If you haven’t already heard (or were too busy drinking the Christmas gin collection) M&S and Aldi are once again locking horns following Cuthbert-gate after the budget German retailer launched a similar festive product to the British retail giant.
For the Christmas season, both supermarkets released light up ‘snow globe’ gin liqueur bottles in plum and clementine varieties, but does one fare better than the other?
Both gins have been extremely popular, selling out in stores ahead of December 25 – and it’s easy to see why. Having been gifted a bottle of each for my 24th birthday (the perks of a December birthday means your Christmas booze stash is sorted), and my ‘expert’ knowledge gained from an annual subscription of Craft Gin Club, I thought myself to be in a pretty good position to give my verdict on the glittery tipples.
The first obvious difference between the two rival products is the price. M&S’s clementine light up snow globe gin liqueur is marked up at £20, while Aldi’s ‘The Infusionist’ 23ct gold flakes clementine gin liqueur comes in at £13.99, just over £6 cheaper for the same sized 70cl bottle.
Both bottles have a similar dome shape with a round neck and cork stop, with a paper tape seal. Looking down on the bottles, you might say Aldi’s looked more expensive with a gold leafed logo on top of the cork, however, when you take a look at the designs on the bottle itself, M&S is a clear winner.
M&S’s festive design has a nutcracker ballet theme this year, having first launched the product in 2019 with a winter pine illustration. The gold and orange design offers a very festive feel, with traditional nutcrackers, bells and holly. On the opposite side of the bottle to the nutcracker is an empty circle, intelligently designed so that when you shake the bottle and hold it up to eye level, the nutcracker really does look like he’s inside a snow globe.
Meanwhile, Aldi’s bottle features a white and orange winter woodland scene, with Santa’s sleigh flying over the logo and a Christmas tree. While lovely and festive, I found M&S’s to have a bit more wow-factor and thought put into it. Not only this, but you might also find that the Aldi gin has a security sticker which leaves a residue that’s quite difficult to remove.
One of the show-stopping features of these bottles is that they light up, showing off the 23ct gold flakes suspended in the gin – which, looking at them, M&S’s gold flakes do appear slightly larger than Aldi’s. Both bottles have a button at the base activating the light up feature, which is where there are some real differences.
M&S’s light has one setting – on, or off. You can press the button to illuminate the bottle, and press again to switch it off – or leave it for 45 seconds and it will go off on its own.
On the other hand, Aldi’s does have a rather exciting addition of a flashing setting. Press once for a solid light, or press it again to see the light flicker on and off like Christmas lights. However, this one will not go off on it’s own so you’ll have to do this manually.
Aldi’s light colour is very warm, and paired with the design, it gives off a rather orange glow, while M&S’s is a much softer, neutral light which looks warm as it bounces off the gold flakes and orange design. Both look beautiful with the lights dimmed, but in terms of aesthetic, M&S takes the proverbial caterpillar cake on this one.
Now, I do believe that the M&S gin is suitable for vegans, but Aldi does get brownie points for clearer labelling and stating so on the website.
In terms of scent, the M&S gin smells boozier, and you can certainly get notes of clementine and juniper, whereas the Aldi gin does have a stronger zesty clementine fragrance.
Both drinks are a festive delight to drink – sweeter than gin being liqueurs, with a thicker, syrupy texture. The Aldi gin has a thicker mouthfeel, whereas the M&S version is smoother, but both go down easily neat, without a shudder or making a sour face. In a blind taste test between three family members, M&S won for taste two votes to one, but everyone said both were lovely, they just preferred the M&S version.
These drinks are both delicious served neat over ice, with lemonade or your choice of tonic, or even in your prosecco for a clementine Bellini – perfect for starting off your Christmas morning.