Sam Wylie-Harris goes on a juniper journey and mixes different tonics with gins to celebrate World Gin Day (June 10).
Gin may be one of the fastest growing artisanal spirits, but it’s also one of the few spirits we don’t sip neat.
But thanks to the current gin craze, the tonic water industry is flourishing and the mixer you put in your G&T can be a real game changer.
“Choosing the tonic is as important as the gin or garnishes,” says Matt Coates, gin expert, Portobello Road Gin. “Gone are the days of heavily bitter, powdery tonic waters, instead they come in an array of flavours, infusions and styles, which all pair with different gins and garnishes to create entirely different serves.”
“Bubbles are the engine of a gin and tonic,” declares Tony Conigliaro, drinks expert, “and this is where Schweppes excels – its bubbles fizz on the tongue, mixing together citrus and quinine flavours to carry the full taste, flavour, and aroma of the gin. In short, Schweppes’ mixability with gin is hard to beat.”
Tonic is integral to gin’s drinking pleasure and Schweppes just happens to be the nation’s favourite.
But if you’re a serious gin lover, World Gin day on June 10 is a marvellous excuse to raise you gin game and try some other perfect partners…
:: Portobello Road No 171 Gin (£26, 70cl, Waitrose) and Merchant’s Heart Hibiscus Tonic (£1.75, 20cl, www.harveynichols.com)
“Merchant’s Heart Hibiscus works perfectly with Portobello Road No 171 as it’s less bitter and is a well-balanced tonic,” says Coates. “It’s lighter than most tonics and while it has a lower sugar content than most gins, it still has a long-lasting sweetness. The rich fruity notes of the tonic work really well with warm, spiced botanicals in Portobello Road, such as the nutmeg and Cassia Bark.”
:: Martin Miller’s Gin (currently £21, 70cl, Sainsbury’s) and Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic (currently £1.50, 50cl, Sainsbury’s)
“With the alchemy of citrus and earthy botanicals, separately distilled to give a fresher aromatic mouth feel, the flavour profile of Martin Miller’s Gin can be enhanced with Fever Tree’s Elderflower tonic,” says Dan Tripp, brand ambassador, Martin Miller’s Gin. “The floral notes of the tonic brings the citrus notes to the fore in this award-winning gin – making it the ideal combination for the most thirst quenching G&T.”
:: Greenall’s Wild Berry Gin (currently £12, 70cl, Tesco) and Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic (currently £1.50, 50cl, Sainsbury’s)
Joanne Moore, master distiller, Greenall’s, also has a penchant for Fever Tree. “I would always recommend Fever Tree Indian tonic as it’s clean & fresh with a citrus and aromatic hint which, when blended with Greenall’s Wild Berry, allows the subtle Scottish raspberries and blackberries to come through on the nose and taste.
“That said, it works quite nicely for me with the Mediterranean tonic as I find the hint of thyme, citrus and rosemary brings out the more green, brambly flavours of the gin.”
:: Edgerton Original Pink Dry Gin (£30.11, 70cl, Amazon) and Fentimans Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water (£1.80, 50cl, Waitrose)
“I think the Pink Grapefruit flavour tonic from Fentimans goes perfectly with Edgerton Pink Gin,” says Martin Edgerton. “Not only does the tonic enhance the pinkness of Edgerton, but the flavours complement each other perfectly. I would recommend serving it over ice and finishing with either pomegranate seeds or pink grapefruit!”
:: Whitley Neil Rhubarb & Ginger Gin (£25.99, 70cl, www.drinksdirect.co.uk) and Lamb & Watt Tonic Water (£1.19, 20cl, www.drinksupermarket.com)
A true classic style of tonic, Whitely Neil cite Lamb & Watt as the most suited pairing with Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger and Whitley Neill Gin (original). They suggest the astringency and bitterness of the quinine are perfectly balanced with sweetness, making for a lightly effervescent tonic that can be drunk over ice or with spirit.
:: Gin Mare Gin (£31.60, 70cl, Waitrose) and 1724 Tonic Water (£5.95, 20cl x 4, 31dover.com)
A Mediterranean gin, Gin Mare recommends 1724 Tonic Water as the perfect match, made by the same producer, it’s hardly surprising this tonic pairs particularly well. It originates from 1,724 metres above sea level on the Peruvian Inca Trail and perhaps it’s because the Mediterranean botanicals complement the bittersweet taste of the tonic, or because the bubbles are finer and more akin to those of champagne, which suit the herbal nature of the gin. Regardless of why, they certainly think it’s a perfect match.
Trivento Reserve Malbec 2016, Argentina (£7.98, Asda) have launched their latest campaign as The Official Wine of BBQ and with its jammy, fruity notes, sweet tannins and velvety finish, it’s a sure winner with any summer sizzler.
The International Wine Challenge (IWC) has announced its IWC Cellar Door shortlist to shine the light on England’s best vineyard experiences, so if you’re heading down south in the summer holidays, it could come in handy.
As part of a new initiative in partnership with VisitEngland, six English wineries have been named on the final shortlist to be awarded IWC Cellar Door of the Year for England.
“Wine Tourism is a huge visitor experience worldwide – and it’s great to see English vineyards excelling in this area too,” says Chris Ashton, events director, International Wine Challenge.
“With the help of VisitEngland, the IWC wishes to highlight the places to visit in England where visitors can enjoy a day out, but also try some wonderful English wines.
“We expect English vineyards to continue to grow significantly in popularity as a tourist destination over the next few years, as the wine scene in Britain continues to mature.”
The IWC Cellar Door Award showcases the best places they have identified as ‘must visit’ estates in 2017 and here are the six Gold Medal Winners:
:: Rathfinny Wine Estate (rathfinnyestate.com)
:: The Bolney Estate (www.bolneywineestate.com)
:: Hush Heath Estate (hushheath.com)
:: West Street Vineyard (www.weststreetvineyard.co.uk)
:: High Clandon Estate Vineyard (www.highclandon.co.uk)
:: Denbies Wine Estate (www.denbies.co.uk)