There is such a huge selection of gins on the market to sample – with more being launched in the last 12 months than we have been able to review in total – that we have arguably neglected an important branch of the industry: the tonic producers.
This is partly the fault of Fever-Tree for making such a good selection of mixers widely available, and at really quite a reasonable price, though we have occasionally tried others. For instance, the distillers of G-Gin recommended drinking it with Franklin and Sons Natural Indian Tonic, which happily our friends Bill and Lesley had provided us with to accompany the stylish spirit, helping to propel it straight into our Top Ten.
The Fergusons had also returned from a shopping expedition bearing a quartet of different tonics from the range produced by two typically tall, twin sisters from the Netherlands: humorously marketing their products under the name, Double Dutch.
Echoing the words of the centuries old Knight guarding the Holy Grail in one of Indiana Jones’ quests, “I chose unwisely “; and although I did not die a horrible death, the excessive sweetness of that first serve ruined the Black Dog Gin I’d paired it with: condemning the rest to sit in the larder for many months.
However, a recent lust for juniper and a shortage of associated stocks inspired me to take the top off the sisters’ Spice and Oak offering. My; what a contrast it was: sharp and tangy as well as an ideal companion for the large measure of a London Gin I’d poured myself. “A game of two halves,” as football pundits insist on observing? Well four quarters actually – like American Football – since the other two varieties have also now been consumed and enjoyed, so we’ll be talking Double Dutch again sometime soon.
As a patriot I couldn’t put up a piece on mixers without mentioning the quintessentially British brand, Schweppes, whose TV adverts with William Franklyn probably boosted sales as much as Leonard Rossiter did for Cinzano. Schweppes ginger ale and tonic dominated the spirits market for decades until, as for Perrier Water in the 80s, bad luck and strong competition burst their bubble.
It’s worth mentioning here that the big supermarkets generally offer some very reasonable own brand mixers and we have purchased several packs from the German cost-cutters, Aldi and Lidl, over the past six months; including to accompany the latter’s equally good value Finton’s gin.
I ought to disclose that for a long time the increasing value of my shares in Fever-Tree covered the cost of our social life, and at one time touched £40 each. Alas these are distant memories and this week Fever-Tree fell another fiver on the stock exchange. However the quinine kings still make my favourite Indian Tonic so I’m sticking by them for this unscientific comparison.