Denver based mixers brand Strongwater doesn’t simply make ordinary tonic waters. While their orange blossom version is more obviously “less traditional,” even their Strongwater Signature Sparkling Tonic Water innovates a bit on the theme.
They add five botanical essences to their tonic water: sage, dill, makrut lime, lemongrass and other citrus. It is sweetened with cane sugar and includes both citric acid and quinine.
One can of 200 mL is 60 calories; the 15g of added sugars suggest a sweeter craft tonic water.
Aroma: Fresh green dill leaps from the can when opened. Lemon, lime and a more general citrus takes over as the dominant aroma after a few seconds
Fizz quality: Poured, the bubbles are tight and quickly explode. Only a few bubbles hang at the side of the glass. However, they are plentiful on the palate, though tightly and highly concentrated on the entry.
Flavor: Surprisingly herbal with some aquavit notes that call to mind some American brands. I get some citric acid tartness early. Mid-palate a very dominant herbal character comes through with slight hints of camphor, dill weed and even oregano.
Finish: A bit less sweet than expected, though a moderately assertive bitterness occupies the finish. Camphor and quinine combine to give Strongwater Tonic a somewhat herbal soda note.
Strongwater Tonic and Tenjaku Gin
The sage and dill notes from the tonic water are powerful and definitely will hit your palate as somewhat dominant flavors. However, because I chose a gin that was light in its herbal profile, these notes round out the gin and lend it complexity, rather than overpowering it. The juniper and yuzu notes come through, but they feel somewhat secondary.
Overall, Strongwater Tonic Water
While I love the flavor, the complex and strong flavor profile can come to dominate a shyer gin.
However, in the case of gins that don’t feature strong herbal notes, it can become an asset and add life to an otherwise banal or light flavored gin.
Ultimately, Strongwater Tonic Water is a good product; however despite it’s more typical (gold/yellow) coloring, it should be treated more as you would a flavored tonic water. Choose it for signature pours where an herbal note might elevate the drink. Take for example a gin like Gordon’s. This tonic water is ideal for elevating it and adding notes that are not there. But take heed not to pair it with other herbal gins like Wheeler’s— the sage/camphor can overwhelm and be almost too much.
In other words, Strongwater Tonic Water might be more successful if marketed as Strongwater Herbal Tonic Water. It’s good, but it’s more a flavored tonic water than a plain old tonic water.