Did you know that some tonic waters have as much sugar in them as a fizzy drink does? With more people watching the calorie count of their drinks, more tonic makers are introducing light versions of their tonic, or making this the centre of their brand. One such brand is Gallybird, who embrace a healthier way of life. Their tonic has no sugar in it, instead they spent two years experimenting in their kitchen in Sussex (hello neighbours!) to make a sugar free, zero calorie, natural tonic water. Instead of sugar, they use Stevia leaf from South America which has been used for centuries and is suitable for diabetics and vegans, as well as containing anti-inflammatory and antioxident properties. So, essentially, it’s good for you. They have designed their tonic to enhance your favourite spirit, rather than overwhelm it.
Note: The Artisan Drinks team sent me some samples to try, but I will always let you know what I really think.
Who are The Artisan Drinks Co.?
The Artisan Drinks Co. started as all good partnerships start – when a group of people met in a bar. Steve, an entrepreneur who previously created Feel Good Drinks, and Alan, a Yorkshire based artists, met Mikey, an award winning bartender, and the Artisan Drinks Co. was formed. They created their drinks in the bar as accompaniments for their favourite spirits. They use 100% natural ingredients and produce in both the UK and Australia in some damn fine bottles. So what is their range?
Note: The team at Glacier Fire tonic sent me some samples to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I really think
What is Glacier Fire tonic?
Based in Iceland, Glacier Fire produce a range of tonic waters (alongside a host of soft drinks, spirits and beers) using glacier water which has trickled its way down the mountains towards Reykjavik. This water is naturally filtered as it comes down through lava fields and so is free of pollution. They use responsibly sourced, non-gm quinine from Africa and all their tonics are sugar free. Alongside an Indian tonic, they also make a fiery tonic (with chilli), elderflower tonic, volcanic tonic (ginger and cinnamon), botanic tonic, and a berry tonic (both of which I am trying today).
Note: I contacted the Cushiedoos team and they kindly sent me some samples to try but as always, I’ll let you know what I think.
Cushiedoos is a new brand of tonic water from Edinburgh, but there’s something about it that makes it very different to everything else. This tonic water has no quinine in it. Which made me think, does it actually count as tonic water? They say it does so until I’m told otherwise, we’ll go with yes. Cushiedoos start with Scottish mountain water from the Cairngorns National Park which is then blended with Scottish heather and silver birch, plus some gentian and wormwood for bitterness (replacing the quinine) and British sugar beet to balance this with a touch of sweetness. They have an eye out for the environment, ensuring that all of their ingredients are close to home – plus as it is all natural and contains no added sugar, there is around 24% less sugar than other premium tonic waters. Cushiedoos is a Scottish word for a wood pigeon, who apparently partner up for life, like gin and tonic… Also fun fact for you: the samples arrived just as I was leaving to go on holiday to Edinburgh, and I spent the beginning of my gin tasting talking about the brand which they then bought out for us to try. Small world. Anyway, on with the tasting!
Note: I met the Doctor Polidori team and they kindly gave me some bottles to try, but as always I’ll let you know what I REALLY think.
Doctor Polidori tonic comes from Germany from the same people that make Ferdinand’s Saar gin, and I think we’re all thinking the same thing. Who the hell is Doctor Polidori? To know this we have to open our history books to around the time of Lord Byron, Polidori’s client and travelling companion (and originator of the vampire-fiction genre). His records formed the foundation of this modern interpretation of tonic. They have two tonics in their range – the dry tonic which is infused with botanicals such as basil and thyme and a cucumber tonic which includes (funnily enough) cucumber extract which makes the tonic “a refreshing experience beyond compare”. So, how do they taste?
Note: I contacted Ledger’s as I wanted to try their tonic and they kindly obliged with some samples, as always this won’t affect my review!
Ledger’s tonic is so named after Charles Ledger who discovered quinine in Peru back in 1862. Their range features four flavours, all of which are low in sugar and sweetened with stevia – a natural sugar substitute which means they are one of the most calorie friendly tonics on the market. Today we’re drinking their premium Indian tonic, tonic with liquorice, tonic with tangerine and finally their tonic with cinnamon.
Remember the days of premixed drinks? My drink of choice as a teen was Smirnoff Ice, because I was classy. Nowadays, premixed drinks are making a comeback with all of the big brands and supermarkets getting in on the trend with tins of premixed gin and tonic (always go for the M&S pink gin FYI). Entering this market is the London-based collaboration between Sacred gin and BTW tonic. The bottle is certainly distinctive – the colour of BTW tonic comes from the use of natural quinine in their product. Sacred gin comes from the smallest commercial distillery and has quite the extensive range of flavoured gins to its name and this premix highlights the pink grapefruit to add a freshness and a bright citrus flavour.
Today I continue my quest to explore the world of tonic water with Distillers Tonic. I tried their tonic in the tonic taste here (which you can read here). Distillers Tonic was owned by Bramley & Gage (of 6 O’Clock gin) but was sold to a group who want to focus on bringing out the best of every gin. They expanded the range and now have two tonics: Original, the clean, fresh tasting tonic which is low in sugar and balances the natural quinine with lemon and lime; and Dry which has half the calories of the original with only a trace of sugar.
In case you didn’t know this about me, I live in Brighton. Well, Hove actually. Regency Tonic come from three roads away from me (and after chatting to co-founder Rich, it turns out he used to live just three doors away from me, small world). Regency’s aim was to create a tonic low in sugar so that you can #tasteyourgin – their original gold tonic contains just 1.3g per 100ml which is less than the Fever Tree Naturally Light tonic. Rich admits himself that this is quite divisive for consumers – the dryness of the tonic doesn’t compliment every single gin and needs to be paired with a slightly sweeter one to balance it out. So, to widen their reach they have just launched their new blue tonic. This has a higher sugar content to make it taste more like a traditional tonic and hopefully to appeal to a wider market. Continue reading