Pennyback Tonic Water hails from Austin, Texas and is the latest in craft approaches to Tonic Water. The Pennyback Tonic website describes their market as the “[customer] grown tired of sweet syrupy products traditionally available in the mixer marketplace.” [Source]
Pennyback Tonic uses two sweeteners— cane sugar and agave; however, it’s still only 80 calories a bottle.
Another nice design choice worth noting is the bottle size. It’s perfect for two gin and tonics.
A hint of tart citrus on the nose and a clean, slightly clinical note of quinine.
On the palate there’s a pleasant albeit brief carbonation. The bubble texture is tight. Pennyback Tonic Water has a strong quinine note with a tart, nearly pucker-worthy citric acid tang. The citrus reminds me of a very sour white grapefruit, especially the pith.
The finish is long and palate clearing. Especially after two sips, just on its own, the bitterness is pronounced and clean. Though don’t be surprised if it dries out your palate in the way that unsweetened chocolate may— or sucking on a grapefruit rind.
Pennyback Tonic is pleasantly simple on its own with a nice flavor and effervescence.
London to Lima Gin and Pennyback Tonic
I tried Pennyback with the quite excellent Peruvian London to Lima Gin. The nose was pleasantly gin-forward though there’s a tart citrus note that wasn’t there with the gin on its own.
Pennyback Tonic certainly gives the gin plenty of space to shine, though the bitterness is a bit stronger in the background than other tonic waters. Peppercorn, pink peppercorn, and grapefruit flesh dominate. The finish is bitter with notes of grapefruit.
Pennyback Tonic Water has a strong, albeit complementary perspective. It doesn’t try to bring the notes that your usual gin will bring. Instead if brings a nice bitterness, a round but not cloying sweetness and a tight, front-loaded effervescence.
The tart citrus perspective makes it ideal for gins which lack strong citrus components. Overall, Pennyback Tonic is a worthwhile alternative to mainstream tonics.