Just The Tonic
The modern gin scene has undergone a transformation. Locally, it all started about six years ago now with the likes of Twisted Nose, watercress-infused gin from Winchester Distillery, and Dorset Dry Gin from Conker Spirit. The local gin success story continued this year with River Test Distillery picking up Best English London Dry Gin in the World Gin Awards 2020.
However, when you want to create the perfect local G&T, where are the local mixers? New Forest Spring Water has come to the mixologist’s rescue, launching a new range of truly local tonic waters.
Kevin Cowell, Director, New Forest Spring Water, explains: “This is the only tonic range to have New Forest Spring Water as a main ingredient. The inspiration for the range was the desire to have a locally based tonic which offers an alternative to big national brands, featuring flavours and products sourced locally. We have received support and encouragement from our local council, New Forest District Council, who also proposed the idea of a New Forest Tonic Water, which prompted us to progress the project. We are proud to be part of the New Forest community and want to work with other local producers and foragers to develop new and exciting flavours, building on a core range of tonics which we have tried and tested with our loyal customers.
"We commenced the project over two years ago. We were fortunate to be awarded a grant from LEADER funding which allowed us to buy the necessary machinery, however the development of the products and the refinement of the process to get the tonics into bottles has taken time. We have learnt a lot about temperature, the effects of sugar on foaming and strange terms like Brix [the sugar content of an aquaeous solution], which had previously been unknown to us.
"The choice of our core flavours was through a process of market evaluation and analysis of UK tonic sales. This gave us a range of flavours which might be of interest to customers. As this is a new venture, the approach we have taken is to start with a core range and to introduce new flavours and products gradually. Thus we have Classic and Light tonics - the bedrock of any tonic range. We then added Elderflower and Rhubarb because these were flavours we knew could be locally sourced: Elderflower is foraged in the New Forest and Rhubarb is grown by some of our local producers."
So, how would Kevin pair his tonic waters with some local gins? "Local gins will work well with all of our tonic varieties. Personally I like to pair Wyrd Dry Gin, for example, with our Elderflower Tonic Water as it complements the botanicals in the gin. Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin works really well with the Rhubarb Tonic Water as they both have distinct and robust flavours. Isle of Wight Distillery's Mermaid Gin pairs well with the Classic and Light Tonic Waters as they evoke the spirit's subtle tones."
Those not drinking alcohol can be delighted - simply pour your choice of Tonic Water over ice and add a slice of lemon, lime or orange. Otherwise add a local juice such as Cox & Bramley or Pear & Apple, both from Hill Farm Juice, for a delicious, refreshing long drink.
New Forest Tonic Waters can be bought direct or find at varied stockists throughout Hampshire.