The Potawatomi first peoples of Wisconsin believed that the abundant nearby springs had medicinal properties. Being that water was a central part of Potawatomi oral tradition, it’s no surprise that the natural, bubbling, and slightly alkaline waters would be considered precious to the region’s peoples. They called this area “much good water.”
And thusly, it shouldn’t be of surprise that when Europeans encountered the Potawatomi, they too would learn of the waters’ reputed power. In 1871 Pharmacist H.M. Colver founded White Rock Beverages to market the waters— but he was far from the only one. “Come and drink ye of this nectar… and have your physical (and political) disabilities removed,” proclaimed Dr. Swan who owned several acres of nearby springs.
Though the Wisconsin medicinal water rush would fizzle nearly as quickly as it started. By 1906 Dr. Swan’s healing spa had closed, White Rock continued to market the spring waters.
Notice this 1910’s/1920’s White Rock Advertisement— it’s not simply about the taste, but it implies that those unhappy-morning-after-drinking-too-much feelings (i.e. Hangovers) might be ameliorated simply by your choice of mixing water.
White Rock, now based out of Whitestone, New York, has since released a whole line of sodas including White Tonic Water. But they still appeal to the notion of medicinal and healing waters, with their logo featuring a winged woman gazing from a white rock into a pure, sparkling springs.
Poured, White Rock Tonic Water has a pleasant effervescence. The nose is a slightly citrus tang, but vague in terms of what citrus exactly is called to mind.
Palate wise, there’s a nice burst of fizz at the front. It lasts well through the back of the palate. There’s a pleasant, rich quinine flavor. It’s slightly metallic as some of the supermarket and plastic jug tonic waters can be; however, I think it’s richer and more balanced all throughout the palate.
The sweetness is assertive, but it mostly comes on a bit late with the quinine notes. So although it’s quite sweet (30g / 12 oz of cane sugar!), it doesn’t taste as sweet as others.
White Rock Tonic is certainly one of the better supermarket brand tonics I’ve had.
White Rock Tonic and Junipero Gin
I tried this tonic mixed with Junipero Gin. Lots of juniper concentrated in the front of the palate, with pleasant notes of orange and piney juniper on the finish. Good quinine tang in the background, but some of that metallic quality I had from just sipping on its own, is gone.
White Rock Tonic Water is a good, and very affordable complement to gin. If you’re going to spend a bit more, I still think you’ll get a better quinine flavor and more balanced sweetness with a tonic water like Fever Tree (for example). However, at the price of 99¢/L it’s hard to find fault in this for the niche it seeks to fill. It’s a good, inexpensive supermarket tonic that’s far better than store brands at nearly the same price point.
Recommended in its niche.