East Imperial’s line of tonic waters hail from New Zealand. Their products though on the international market for some time, have just started popping up stateside with regularity. With a wide range of flavored tonic waters including their Yuzu Tonic featuring high quality ingredients, East Imperial is the latest to take aim at Fever Tree‘s dominance of the ultra premium tonic water category.
Yuzu is a citrus fruit of Eastern Asian origin. Popular in Japanese and Korean cuisines, the smallish fruit is prized for its aromatic rind. It’s flavor is said to resemble something between a grapefruit and a mandarin. Yuzu has also been incredibly popular in the gin world from about 2017 on. It’s been a featured botanical in several Japanese gins including Roku Gin, Nikka Coffey Gin and Ki No Bi Gin. That Boutique-y Gin Company even gave it the signature botanical treatment in their 2018 Yuzu Gin.
East Imperial Yuzu Tonic is sweetened with cane sugar and uses Java Cinchona Bark for quinine.
The nose is quite true to the fruit. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of nosing pure yuzu before, East Imperial Yuzu Tonic has a nose that is a combination of white grapefruit flesh, Seville orange rind with a slight dash of lemon oil for brightness.
On it’s own, East Imperial Yuzu Tonic is quite a delicious soda. Generous citrus notes early, brightened by a tight, but soft effervescence, it slowly segues into the bitterness on the back. It’s a clean and understated bitterness. The finish is long with the subtle quinine note hanging around long after the first sip.
Further, I enjoy the balanced and muted sweetness. East Imperial Yuzu Tonic is a mere 48 calories per 150 mL/5 oz. bottle. That sweetness comes on gently at the back half, bridging the moment where the citrus begins to diminish and the bitterness comes on.
East Imperial Yuzu Tonic and Gunpowder Gin
East Imperial’s marketing materials suggesting pairing with classic style or citrus-forward gins. But I really love this pairing of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin and Yuzu Tonic. The tea and yuzu marry together beautifully. The yuzu doesn’t overpower the gin, nor does the tea dominate. It reminds me of a slightly sweetened peach white tea, iced on a summer
Overall, East Imperial Yuzu Tonic
One of the best, most balanced flavored tonic waters out there. Those looking for a more subtle alternative to some of the bitter lemons on the market— or those just looking for a citrus-forward tonic water, will not be disappointed.