Llanllyr Source is one of the new names in craft tonic waters to burst onto the scene. The brand’s story is that their water comes from the “organic fields of Llanllyr, Wales for over 800 years.” The story says that these natural springs have been known since at least 1180 when Rhys ap Gruffydd arrived in Llanllyr.
The spring’s natural qualities were elaborated on by Michael Mascha in his 2006 book Fine Waters: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Most Distinctive Bottled Waters. “The water is extracted from Llandovery shale, a fine gravel left behind by glaciers retreating from the valley.” Mascha describes it character as “low mineral content, a low nitrate level, and an acidic pH.” [source]
Llanllyr Source has launched a line of mixers including Llanllyr Source Bitter Lemon based on these waters. Llanllyr Bitter Lemon uses lemon juice concentrate, pure sugar and natural flavors. It comes in at 66 calories per 200mL and has a pale translucent lemonade hue with clear lemon sediment visible inside the container.
Llanllyr Source Bitter Lemon has an ebullient effervescence at first; however, has good stickiness once poured. Moderate-to-large sized bubbles adhere in large numbers to both the bottom and sides of the glass. They erupt at a good steady pace.
Pleasant, tart, lemon note on the nose. Perhaps a bit more like bottled lemon-juice than fresh lemon.
When sipped, there’s a lot of bubbles, especially at the front of the mouth on entry. Llanllyr Bitter Lemon has a pleasing texture on the palate. The lemon, though there at very first, becomes loudest about mid-way through. It has a bit of the character between lemon juice and preserved lemons. It has a clean finish, with citrus and a touch of bitterness. The quinine note of Llanllyr Source Bitter Lemon is subtle, but well placed. Nice balance, and very drinkable just on its own.
Ethereal Gin #14 and Llanllyr Source Bitter Lemon
I mixed Llanllyr Bitter Lemon with Berkshire Mountain’s Ethereal Gin Batch #14. The balance is really pleasant and nice. The lemon tonic gives the right amount of space for the gin’s botanicals to be the star, adding only a nice lemon, citrus lift and slight bitterness. The critique of Llanllyr Bitter Lemon might just be that it’s not quite bitter enough. While it is a bit quieter than other bitter lemons, I think that makes it perhaps most ideal for pairing with gin because it doesn’t have such a bold perspective just on its own.
Llanllyr Source Bitter Lemon is a nicely crafted, well-made bitter lemon that pairs nicely with gin. While I can’t say that the core water’s innate purity comes through, I can say that the balance of lemon is an ideal complement to your next G&BL*.
Recommended in its category.
*Gin and Bitter Lemon. Because I like to coin initialisms.