Tonic Review Series: Fentimans

This weeks tonic water is brought to you by……. Fentimans! Ok, enough with the cheesy TV introduction. Let’s get onto the important stuff!

Fentimans have a long history of providing top quality soft drinks and mixers. I first remember coming across them as a child when I became obsessed with their ginger beer. In fact, it was their ginger beer that began the company in 1905.

In 1905, Thomas Fentiman, and iron puddler from Cleckheaton, England was approached by a fellow tradesman for a loan. A deal was struck and a recipe for botanically brewed ginger beer was provided as security. The loan was never repaid so Thomas became the owner of the unique recipe.

3Some time after this, Thomas began producing the ginger beer and selling it door to door, using a horse and cart as transport. He stored the produce in stone jars, which were known as ‘Grey Hens’ and featured an image of Thomas’ pet dog, ‘Fearless’, who interestingly enough had won the Crufts obedience class in 1933 and 1934. The brand quickly established itself and over time, further factories opened in the North of England as the family business went from strength to strength.

In today’s ever changing world, you won’t be surprised to know that the produce isn’t sold from the back of a horse and cart! Fentimans produce an array of different products, from traditional soft drinks such as ginger beer, cola and dandelion and burdock through to pre-mixed alcoholic drinks and craft beer.

Our focus is of course on their mixer range, and specifically their tonic water. Interestingly, they also offer a light tonic water and a herbal tonic, which we hope to profile in a future review.


The old school nature of the green bottle and old fashioned label is simple and effective. I like the fact that they reference their history in this way and vintage is very in these days. The bottle itself features embossed ‘1905’ and ‘botanically brewed’. The bottle top features ‘Fearless’ himself.


Their tonic water features a number of botanicals together with quinine, which are as listed as follows:

  • Juniper Berry
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Orris Root
  • Lemon Grass

Smell: You get a strong hit of lemon, together with hints of juniper.

Taste: Wow! Lemon. Lots and lots of lemon. Dare I say it, too much lemon. This is quite a sweet tonic water and in some ways closer to a ‘posh lemonade’. The quinine is there along with a little bitterness.

In a G&T: What a difference a gin makes! This becomes a totally different beast in the hands of a gin. I went for Boodles and the heavier nature of the gin really made this a pleasant drink. I would definitely recommend not adding any citrus garnish with this tonic as it is not needed.

After tasting this tonic on its own, I was quite dubious. The heavy lemon nature of it really makes you wonder if you’re drinking tonic water, but as I found out, it is very pleasing with the right gin. I later tried this with Hendricks and some cucumber and it stood up to the test of a lighter gin very well indeed.

This will tonic will probably not be for traditionalists, but I can certainly see some great combinations if you are prepared to do a bit of experimenting! I also think this would be a great choice of tonic for newer gin drinkers or those that prefer less quinine.

Finally, Fentimans has a fantastic website with lots of great content. Give them a look at

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