The Boise, Idaho based East End Tonic are no strangers to unusual ingredients in their tonic water. For example, their flagship tonic syrup is sweetened with Monk Fruit and features the bark of the Pau D’arco tree. Their Maqui Berry Tonic is no different.
Maqui Berry is a strong antioxidant and is one of many “superfruits.” These small dark colored berries were a part of the native peoples of what is now Chile’s medicine. They’ve now entered our modern day natural-healing culture as a potential helper for everything from your heart’s health to dry eyes.
Chris Killiam upon trying the berries in 2011 wrote, “One thing I discovered is that maqui berries taste delicious. They are sweet, bursting with flavor, and something I would be happy to eat every day.” Emilia Benton wrote for PopSugar, “Maqui berries offer up a tart flavor similar to blackberries and cherries.” Before East End Maqui Berry Tonic, I’ve never had them.
In addition to maqui berry, East End Maqui Berry Tonic features elderberry, bilberry, lemon oil, orange oil, spices and is sweetened with sugar.
East End Maqui Berry Tonic is deep burgundy in hue, almost akin to a sweet Vermouth. The nose is plump and jammy with an aroma of huckleberry preserves. A dry flat woodiness sits in the background with a slight, almost smoky cherry wood note.
On the palate unmixed with soda, it’s quite sweet with a moderate round tartness. Hints of nutmeg and cinnamon especially mid-palate move into a plump, fat berry flavor. At first it’s a bit more cherry and over-ripe blackberry; later it’s heavy with prune and plum notes.
East End Maqui Berry Tonic’s quinine notes is subtle. There’s a faint woodiness in the background, but sipped neat it doesn’t have a ton of quinine character.
Diluted with zeltzer, East End Maqui Berry Tonic it remains jammy and bright with berry flavor. I get much more elderberry mid-palate, but it similarly returns to a prune and plum finish. It’s a bit heavy with sweetness, but the flavor is really quite nice. As a soda on its own, this is something I would drink.
East End Maqui Berry Tonic and Southern Strength Gin
I mixed it with the quite excellent 52% ABV Southern Strength Gin from Never Never Distilling Co.. Juniper and ripe cherry on the nose. The palate is pleasantly juniper forward while the finish has a lemon oil and juicy damson note to it. It’s lovely and refreshing, albeit a bit jammy.
I wish there was a bit more quinine in here to bring out a touch more bitterness. It’s delicious, but slightly less tonic-like than I was hoping.
Overall, East End Maqui Berry Tonic
If you’ve been craving more superfruits in your tonic syrups— East End has you covered. But if you’re thinking more on flavor, Maqui Berry Tonic is a bright, plump counterpoint to a bright, plump gin in a G&T. It’s going to overshadow meeker gins because of its strong flavor profile. If you don’t mind a tonic syrup lighter on quinine and heavier on sweetness and flavor, East End Maqui Berry Tonic is going to be something worth checking out.
Recommended in its category.