1642 Tonic Water, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Alcohol 0%, Sugar 73 g/l) Website and various stores around Ontario – Prices vary (275ml bottle) 

I’ve always been a little bit partial to a decent Gin & Tonic, but I’ve never found the more common Tonic Waters to really be all that much to write home about; they tend to be so utterly basic in the most pejorative sense. Fever Tree is a step up, for sure, but this new Tonic from Montreal’s 1642 has to be one of the most intriguing I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

I’ve always found regular Tonic Waters -and I’m including Fever Tree here- to be almost undrinkable by themselves, with the Quinine component working with the (almost always) excess sugar to create a cloyingly persistent and wholly unenjoyable bitter profile, especially if one is a touch hungover and/or dehydrated. This is not the case with this particular Tonic. Quite the opposite, actually.

1642’s Tonic Water uses the bark of the Quassia amara tree as its bittering agent, and although Quassia is 50 – 60 times more bitter than the aforementioned Quinine, the end product seems to sit in perfect balance and is an absolute delight to drink all by itself. It’s also a handy substitution if you happen to be one of the growing number of people with Quinine-related hypersensitivity.

It appears that Quassia still has many of the medicinal benefits of Quinine, both for digestion and in treating fever, but I find the flavour profile to be so much more appealing. This may or may not have something to do with the inclusion of both spruce and lime in their “secret” mix of botanicals. 

The marketing uses the terms “subtle” and “Nordic”, and both of those seem wholly appropriate here, as there’s certainly a sense of Nordic reserve and a wonderfully pleasant freshness in each sip, the effervescence being tuned perfectly for the tasks at hand.   

It appears that I’ve finally found my perfect tonic water, and I can’t see myself ever purchasing that stuff with the yellow labelling ever again.

They also have some other interesting mixers in their portfolio, so I’ll try to check those out over the coming weeks.

(Four and a half out of a possible five apples)