UNICORN and parma violet flavoured tipples are the gin-thing this summer – but are they really worth all of the hype?
The flavoured gin market has grown by a 751 per cent since 2017, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, so it’s not wonder that discounters through to posh boutiques are jumping on the trend.
On the high street, prices range from a tenner up to £30 for a bottle of the botanical spirit but just because it’s more expensive doesn’t make it taste better.
A team of four tasters took on the task (all too willingly) of trying out these bottles of flavoured booze to find you best tipple for your buck, and more importantly, work out what on earth “unicorn” even tastes like.
We scored them out of 10, taking into account the look, taste, alcohol content and price tag.
Here, we find out if the novelty tipples are as gin-credible as they sound and which ones are better of in the gin bin.
3 Pugs Rise of the Unicorn Pugs – 7/10
20 per cent ABV, 500ml, Masterofmalt.com, £26.50 – buy now
The neon colour of this gin makes it look like it could have come from Chernobyl while the branding seems to be playing into every fad in the book. Unicorn pugs – really?
Even so, it scored the most in our taste test thanks to it’s mildly sweet taste.
Thankfully, the colour calms down once you’ve mixed it with the recommended summer berries and a splash of tonic.
At more than £26, it’s the most expensive out of the lot but worth the money if you’re looking for the best taste.
Imaginaria Unicorn Dreams – 6/10
20 per cent ABV, 500ml, Masterofmalt.com, £20.20 – buy now
The wax seal on this bottle gives a luxurious start to the drink, like you really are tucking into something magical.
When mixed with tonic, this gin has the pleasant taste of Love Heart sweeties making it an ideal aperitif.
It’s the right side of shimmering pink too making it perfectly Instagrammable at a hen do over the summer.
But it’s sweet and once you’ve finished your glass, you won’t be wanting more.
Unicorn Tears – 5/10
40 per cent ABV, 500ml, B&M, £25 – buy now
We know what you might be thinking – how does B&M make a unicorn cry?
At 40 per cent ABV, the boutique Unicorn Tears drink is the most alcoholic out of the lot, but scored the second lowest.
Unlike it’s competitors, the tipple is a shimmering white instead of pink which disappointingly resembles dirty dishwater when you add tonic.
It’s the least sweet, and to be honest, it tastes like a normal gin – not something you expect if you’re paying premium for unicorn flavour.
Manchester Drinks Mystical Unicorn Gin Liqueur – 4/10
20 per cent ABV, 500ml, Home Bargains, £7.99 – Buy now
The Home Bargains drink is probably the best looking bottle out of the bunch, with it’s rounded shape, pink hue and silver shimmer really does make this bottle look magical.
But it’s a sugary sensory overload that tastes like kid’s cough medicine and really touches the sides of your throat on its way down.
It’s probably best to hold on to your cash with this one to avoid disappointment.
Parma violet flavoured gins
Manchester Drinks Parma Violet Gin Liqueur – 9/10
18.7 per cent ABV, 500ml, Home Bargains, £7.99 – buy now
This budget plonk scored the top marks in our comparisons due to its subtle flavours and purple colouring.
You can smell the retro sweet aroma from the moment you pop the cork without it being overpowering.
It’s not too sweet and, a bit like Pimms, you can definitely knock back a couple of these with friends in the garden over summer.
The Infusionist Violet Liqueur – 8/10
20 per cent ABV, 500ml, Aldi, £9.99 – buy now
The discounter’s take on the summer tipple is ideal over ice and also has a subtle taste of parma violet.
The fancy bottle tells you it’s from a “small batch” which makes you feel like you’re sipping on something special and limited edition.
It was only just pipped to the post by the bottle from Home Bargains as it was £2 cheaper.
TW Kempton Parma Violet Gin Liqueur – 6/10
20 per cent ABV, 500ml, Tesco, £14 – buy now
This mid-range gin is sold exclusively at Tesco but we’ve got to admit that its floral label and cylindrical bottles does make it look a bit like a reed diffuser.
There’s no doubt that this one is inspired by parma violets as the smell hits you the moment you uncork the bottle – it’s almost overpowering.
But it calms down a bit if you add tonic, and while the taste is subtle, it’s not as fruity as the others.
Whitley Neill Parma Violet Gin – 6/10
43 per cent ABV, 700ml, Tesco, £26 – buy now
This is the most expensive gin in the test at £26 although you do get more for your money – not to mention the most alcoholic at 43 per cent ABV.
That’s because unlike the others, it’s not a liqueur which means it’s been distilled with the parma violet flavours rather than mixed with them afterwards.
Even so, it was disappointing to realise than the lavender colour actually comes from the bottle and the liquid is actually clear.
It’s aromatic and tastes okay, but if you’re looking for fun then you’ll probably be disappointed.
Zymurgorium Sweet Violet Liqueur – 3/10
18.7 per cent ABV, 500ml, John Lewis, £25 – buy now
If you’re after the sweet taste of Swizzles delights then this might not be the tipple for you.
No doubt, it’s pretty purple blush resembles a bath bomb in water – but unfortunately it tastes like one too.
The smell of booze mixed with the sugary liqueur gives it a soapy, perfume-like taste.
You’re better off spending less on one of the earlier bottles and you won’t have to compromise so much on taste.
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