Friday 17 June 2011

Tonic Water Review: 1870 mixers

I've been waiting to try Silver Spring 1870 tonic for a little while now, but it has been difficult to come by. So, as you can imagine, I was quite pleased when I saw today that my local Waitrose had started to stock both the Regular and Light (diet) varieties. At £0.69 a bottle (1ltr), I thought it was worth a try.

1870 Tonic is produced by Silver Spring of Kent, a company that was founded in 1888 as a mineral water company. They produce the rather tasty Perfectly Clear (a range of flavoured water) and make a variety of own-brand soft drinks for British supermarkets (Morrisons, Asda & Tesco).

According to their website, the 1870s mixer range started to be developed during the 19th century (hence 1870?). The tonic waters are the result of Brazilian Essential Oils being expertly blended with pure sparkling spring water.

The Rather Pleasantly Packaged 1870 Tonic Waters

The Taste

This had a medium fizz, but was rather artificial in its sweetness and cloying. There was also a harsh, soil-like bitterness. Of the 30+ tonic waters I have tried, this is below average. It improved when gin was added, but still had a cloying aftertaste and lacked any depth of flavour.

There was obvious artificial sweetness form the outset; the kind that sticks to your teeth. This tonic water left a really nasty taste in my mouth. Once again, the taste slightly improved when gin was added (frankly what doesn't?), but this didn't hide the fact that the drink was off-balance and unpleasant. If it hadn't been for the use of Plymouth Gin (a waste on reflection), this would have been one of the worst Gin & Tonics I have ever had.

Upon looking at the ingredients list, it appears that both the Regular and the Light versions of the tonic water contain the artifical sweetener Aspartame. Whilst I can accept its use in a low calorie version, its inclusion in the regular version seems hard to defend. Even if costs were an issue, it should be noted that Waitrose's Regular own-brand tonic water contains no artificial sweeteners and is actually sold for only £0.47 per litre.

In Conclusion
It is unusual that I am overtly negative about a product, but in this case I'd avoid these two products and if you are in Waitrose, buy their brand instead.

Waitrose Tonic is available at around £0.47 for 1 litre (diet and twist of lime and twist of lemon varieties are also available).

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