The toast of the drinks industry gathered in London for a lavish ceremony at the Banking Hall on Monday night to celebrate the inaugural The Grocer Drink Awards– created to reward and recognise excellence in terms of quality, taste and value in own-label and branded alcoholic drinks across 12 categories, including Beer, Lager, Cider, Wine, Vodka, Gin and Cocktails. So read on to find out who won what, and why…
Our expert judging panel was won over by this “well balanced” brew’s “richness of flavour”. Consumers liked the 5.2% abv beer’s “bittersweet” taste and “creamy” aftertaste. They said the goblin embossed bottle added a “quality touch” to the drink, which is made with chocolate and crystal malts mixed with hops, while the label was described as “fun and exciting”.
Silver winner: The Green Gecko IPA, Lidl
Henry Westons Vintage Cider
This traditional cider had an “authentic feel” to it with a “nicely balanced” taste, said our judging panel. Our consumers said its upmarket look helped justify the premium price point (rsp: £2/500ml). They gave the cider extra points for delivering a “very fruity and refreshing” flavour, despite its 8.2% abv, and deemed it suitable for a variety of occasions.
Silver winner: Strongbow Cloudy Apple, Heineken
Ice & Easy Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri Slushy
The Ice Co
The winner brought “a sense of fun” to the category and offered a “more genuine” flavour than rival products, according to our expert judges. This was echoed by our consumers who were impressed with its “fruity, refreshing and summery” taste. The pouch cocktail mix was also singled out for its “innovative and appealing” packaging.
Silver winner: Ice & Easy Frozen Margarita Slushy, Ice Co
Fruit Wine Rose
Blossom Hill Fruit Bloom Hints of Cherry
Treasury Wine Estates
“Not too sweet” with “nice hints of vanilla and subtle froth” – the ideal choice for a summer evening (rsp: £4.99/700ml), said consumers, who thought its 5.5% abv gave it “broad appeal”. Our judging panel liked the attractive packaging and said the slight fizz added a “refreshing twist”.
Silver winner: Blossom Hill Fruit Bloom Summer Fruits, Treasury Wine Estates
Fruit Wine White
Blossom Hill Fruit Bloom Hints of Elderflower
Treasury Wine Estates
Our judging panel loved the “balance” of this flavoured wine and said it provided “good reflection” of the elderflower, without tasting “too artificial”. The drink’s “subtle and clean” elderflower taste was also a hit with consumers, who said the light sparkle took it into “celebratory wine” territory.
Silver winner: Lambrini Always Original, Halewood Wines & Spirits
Rock Rose Gin
Dunnet Bay Distillers
“Beautifully packaged” with a “superior taste” said our judging panel. The tipple (rsp: £34/700ml) received equal praise from our consumers, who awarded it a near perfect 49/50 overall score. The presentation was regarded as “classy”, while the Scottish provenance added interest. It met with expectations of more than 80% consumers.
Silver winner: Whitley Neill Gin, Halewood Wines & Spirits
Glen Marnoch Highland Single Malt Whisky
This “easy to drink” malt was “great value for money” (rsp: £17.99/700ml), said our judges, who were also impressed with the packaging of Aldi’s limited edition release. The “golden colour, spicy taste and buttery sweetness” added “depth and character” to the 40% abv spirit, according to our consumers.
Silver winner: Glen Scotia Double Cask, Loch Lomond
Holy Grass Vodka
Dunnet Bay Distillers
The handwritten label made this spirit “immediately compelling” and gave an instant premium impression, said our consumers. They also thought the vodka (rsp: £34/700ml) had a “warm aftertaste” and offered something different to the big brands. The spirit had a “richness” to it, with the citrus flavours making it stand out from the crowd, agreed our judges.
Silver winner: Smirnoff Red Label, Diageo
Rum & Brandy
The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum
The Duppy Share
This posh 40% abv spirit (rsp: £29.95/ 700ml) scored well above its competitors in terms of quality in the consumer testing and our judges agreed they would “happily” splash out on it. The squat 700ml bottle was a key feature, with 78% of consumers rating it excellent or good, while also loving the “fun eye-catching” label with its strong Caribbean theme.
Silver winner: Old Hopking Spiced Rum, Aldi
Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur
Half of our consumers said they would definitely buy this old favourite, which they credited with being “creamy and smooth”. The “top quality classy” bottle made it “very hard to resist” and made the premium price point (rsp: £20/one litre) “acceptable”, they said, awarding it a maximum 50/50 overall score. The judges commented on the “mellow and well integrated” taste.
Silver winner: Crème de Cassis, Aldi
Chosen for its “crisp, refreshing” taste, our consumers deemed this lager the ideal choice for “any drinking occasion”. A strong performer across all key measures, the premium 4.1% lager from the Heineken stable also provided “good value for money” (rsp: £2/650ml), they said. The judges also enjoyed the brew, applauding it for its “golden colour and light refreshing” taste.
Silver winner: All 4 One, Aldi
Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer
Halewood Wines & Spirits
Consumers liked the “excellent taste and quality” of this “strong and fiery” alcoholic ginger beer. Nearly three in four said they would buy the 4% abv brew. And our expert judging panel said the tipple provided “better delivery and value” than rivals with its £1.79 price tag per 500ml bottle.
Silver winner: Stone’s Ginger Joe Alcoholic Ginger Beer, Accolade Wines