An Aldi own-label eight-year-old Scotch has grabbed a gold medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. Price? Just £13. The judges praised its "complex nose" and "fruit-filled finish".

The cheapie supermarket's Monsigny £12.99 champagne also picked up praise and its £10 gin isn't bad too - say the experts. Do you always get what you pay for?

Scotched competition

The Highland Black 8 Year Old Scotch Whisky is, claims Aldi, made from a blend of the finest Scotch grain and malt whiskies "giving it a rich and sophisticated taste". Think citrus, vanilla and ripe malty notes plus "super smooth flow".

"It's great to see that the world's leading drinks experts agree with us," says Tony Baines, MD Buying at Aldi."It just goes to show that buying world-class drinks doesn't have to cost the earth."

Recession-hit British shoppers may well agree, though the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons won't thank them for acting on it. Recent Kantar Worldpanel figures show the four main supermarket players are increasingly ceding market share to the likes of Aldi and Lidl.

Middle class + hipsters

For the last quarter, Aldi took 3.6% of the UK grocery market while Lidl had 3.1%. Combined, a 6.7% (and growing) take. Middle class shoppers are increasingly spending more per visit too, with Aldi recently taking a +9% gain in per visit from shoppers for the last 12 weeks up to 22 June.

Other Aldi bargains that slipped down well for the experts included Highland Earl Blended Scotch Whisky (70cl, £11.99) and Clarke's Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (70cl, £12.49), both taking home silver and silver outstanding medals at the International Spirits Challenge and International Wine and Spirits Competition.

Whisky is apparently enjoying something of a hipster renaissance, losing the retired, pipe-and-slippers image somewhat, thanks to savvy marketing. There's also a craft and tradition attached to the drink, say whisky lovers, with a growing number of artisan producers.

On another level, it's a simple drink - just barley, water, yeast. The Scots also now have some competition, from the English. Some years ago the English Whisky Company was founded in a Norfolk barn and is now producing 150,000 bottles a year.


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