Welcome to the ultimate guide for stocking your drinks cupboard straight from the high street. For our first-ever drinks awards, we tested a range of categories from the best gin and rum to canned cocktails and tonic water. Whatever your favourite tipple, we’ve found the best supermarket offering for you.
How we did it
We asked supermarkets to send in the drinks they wanted to nominate for each of our categories. Over a week, our expert judging panel taste-tasted more than 70 products from nine national supermarkets to bring you our definitive list of top drinks buys for 2021. The testing took place both remotely and in our test kitchen, with judges receiving boxes of coded sample bottles arranged by category so they could blind-test from home. In some categories, the judges chose to award a runner up as well as a winner. We’ve also asked Richard Davie and Miriam Nice to provide serving suggestions for each winner.
Read on to find out which spirits, mixers and canned cocktails came out on top in our first-ever Drinks Taste Awards.
BBC Good Food Drinks Taste Awards 2021: results
The Melodist London Dry Gin, £20 (70cl), Tesco
Cardamom is easy to overdo, but here it chimes with citrus and juniper without being one-note.
SERVE: make a G&T in a balon glass garnished with basil and raspberries to counter the spicy notes.
Irresistible Premium Gin, £17.50 (70cl), Co-op
Predominantly a classic juniper-led gin, but with lemon, orange and cinnamon on a light body.
SERVE: the citrus notes will add another layer to a gin fizz.
Best pink gin
The Harmonist Rhubarb & Ginger Gin, £20.49 (70cl), Spar
A rich example of the multifarious pink gin style, loaded with rhubarb and given a welcome complexity with sherbet-like grapefruit and ginger spice.
SERVE: bring out those fruity notes in a classic gin sour.
Best sloe gin
M&S Sloe Gin £15 (50cl), M&S and Ocado
Less sweet than many others on the market, this has a strong whack of sloe on the nose, with a surprisingly dry body and lots of almond on the finish.
SERVE: the comparative dryness of this sloe gin is best enjoyed by sipping neat.
Glen Marnoch 12 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky £19.99 (70cl), Aldi
A fruity nose with baked apple, vanilla and mixed spice, this single malt gives even more depth on tasting, with lots of toasty butterscotch richness.
SERVE: take your time sipping it neat or with a drop of spring water to open it up.
Best Scotch whisky
Morrisons Blended Scotch Whisky £11.49 (70cl)
Opulent, with baked orchard fruits, oak, creamy vanilla and hints of oat and pineapple. An easy-drinking crowd-pleaser. SERVE: serve over ice or in a scotch-based cocktail like a rusty nail.
French Grain Vodka £18.39 (70cl), Spar
A classic, clean vodka with a smooth and slightly creamy body and an intriguing touch of minerality to the nose.
SERVE: try a vodka highball for light refreshment.
St Gérmont Premium French Vodka, £14.99 (70cl), Aldi
A boozy nose and full body with lemon and pepper accents.
SERVE: in a classic harvey wallbanger cocktail.
Best dark rum
Irresistible Pineapple Rum, £20 (70cl), Co-op
A big package jam-packed with tropical fruits on the nose that lead to a massive ripe pineapple hit. Plus, unlike a lot of flavoured spirits, this retains a cocktail-worthy 40% ABV.
SERVE: use in a pineapple & rum cake or serve long with cola for a dark rum twist on a cuba libre.
Caribbean Dark Rum £15 (1 litre), Morrisons
A solid dark rum with deep brown sugar, baked apples and vanilla coming through alongside a slightly under-ripe pineapple element. The vanilla fades into a woody note on the finish.
SERVE: as a long drink with ginger beer over ice, it is especially delicious.
Best white rum
Caribbean White Rum £15 (1 litre), Tesco
An ideal mixing rum, with a light, grassy nose, subtle pineapple and hints of green sugar cane that add complexity without dominating a cocktail.
SERVE: in a classic mojito.
Caribbean Pearl White Rum £11 (70cl), Sainsbury’s
This is a slightly more assertive white rum, with ripe banana esters, dark sugar notes and some heat. Its full mouthfeel balances things out.
SERVE: treat yourself to a more traditional white rum cuba libre – the deep sugar flavour will work perfectly.
Finest XO Cognac £35 (50cl), Tesco
Vine fruits take the lead, with spices, biscuits, orchard fruits, a hint of smoke and vanilla giving way to a little woody note at the finish.
SERVE: an XO should stand on its own merits – enjoy as is.
Aldi VSOP Gold Coated Cognac, (70cl) £24.99
A slightly more aggressive cognac, this showcases hints of leather and tobacco, with peach, walnuts and golden syrup to balance it out.
SERVE: when isn’t a brandy and soda just the ticket, especially when made with cognac?
No.1 Armagnac VSOP £25 (70cl), Waitrose & Partners
A subtle nose with hints of fire. On the palate, this armagnac has a balance of sweetness with baked stone fruits set against some spice, coffee and woody notes.
SERVE: armagnac doesn’t get as much love as cognac, so take your time over a snifter.
The Best Napoleon Brandy £16.50 (70cl), Morrisons
A less in-your-face example, this has upfront sweetness, spice and vanilla, followed by a dry finish with a sense of age about it. SERVE: a French 75 sings when you swap out the gin for a brandy like this one.
Best tonic water
Asda Indian Tonic Water, £2 for eight 150ml cans
This tonic comes with an upfront bitterness that stops it from being sugary. It’s moreish, but leaves enough space to stand up against a classic juniper-heavy gin.
SERVE: if gin doesn’t grab you, pour this over a freshly drawn espresso in an ice-filled glass.
Best flavoured tonic water
Ridge Valley Light Mediterranean Tonic Water, £1.99 for eight 150ml cans, Aldi
There’s enough citrus flavour in this to forgo that lemon slice in your G&T, if you like. It also has a pleasing sharpness and intense carbonation.
SERVE: pour into a classic G&T to add a fresh note. Bump up the citrus with a lemon slice garnish.
Best canned gin and tonic
Tesco Gin & Tonic, £1 per 250ml can
Delicately flavoured, but opens up with a nip of juniper to remind you of the gin in there.
SERVE: well-chilled, with a lemon slice and rosemary sprig or cucumber slice for a fresh garnish.
Best canned berry cocktail
M&S Blackberry Gin Bramble £2 per 250ml can, M&S and Ocado
This fun, fruity cocktail is packed with ripe berry flavours that are balanced by a double measure of dry gin to offset the sweetness.
SERVE: well-chilled, ideally with a handful of crushed ice and a mint sprig garnish.