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Schweppes Tonic versus Q Tonic

Comparative Review: Schweppes Tonic versus Q Tonic
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January 15, 2012

I was visiting one of my favourite Liquor Stores, (Lacombe Park Spirits in St. Albert if you want to know), when Karim, who is one of the owners, asked me to try a Gin and Tonic with a new Tonic Water he had started to carry called Q Tonic. Up to this point, pickings were mighty slim in my neck of the woods for Tonic Water and Schweppes Tonic was pretty much the standard choice amongst my friends and I.

So I let him make me a small sample cocktail, and I have to say, it was pretty good. In fact, I was intrigued enough to make contact with Jordan Silbert, the founder of Q Drinks and asked him if he would like to send me a sample and some information, especially as I have quite a selection of gin review on my website, and the Gin and tonic is becoming one of my favourite summer drinks. In fact, I thought was that it would be fun to make some side by side cocktails with Q Tonic and Schweppes Tonic to see if I preferred one over the other consistently.

Jordan agreed, and I received a few small bottles of Q Tonic in the mail shortly before Christmas. This was good because the gin samples were beginning to pile up, and I wanted to get at them.

So with four different gins, Beefeater 24, Citadelle Reserve, Port of Barcelona and Broker’s Gin, I set out over the next couple of weeks to test the Gin and Tonic Cocktail with both Q Tonic and Schweppes Tonic.

This is a good time to point out that the four gins I was using for this exercise were a pretty good selection for this type of task. Broker’s Gin is a very traditional London Dry Gin which features a classic ‘old school’ taste profile for London Dry Gin. The Beefeater 24 is of course another classic gin, but one with a modern twist which features the added infusions of Chinese green tea and Japanese Sencha tea in the traditional flavour profile. The Port of Barcelona Gin is part of the ‘new wave’ style of gin, and it features very noticeable flavours of absinthe within the gin’s flavour profile. The Citadelle Reserve is a rare barrel aged gin which of course adds the smoothness and the flavours of oak to the gin profile. This meant that I had four distinctive gins, each with their own unique flavour characteristics which provided a great contrast of flavours for the Gin and Tonic Cocktails.

As for Schweppes Tonic and Q Tonic, they both have their differences as well. Schweppes (according to their product website) lists as its ingredients; carbonated water, sugar in the form of glucose and fructose, citric acid, natural flavours, sodium benzoate (a food preservative) and Quinine. According to the serving information every 250 ml of Schweppes Tonic contains 40 mg of sodium (salt) and 24 g of sugar. Q Tonic (according to the label on the bottle), contains a different sort of ingredients list; triple purified water, organic agave (sweetener), handpicked quinine, lemon juice extract, and natural bitters.

The Q Tonic website takes particular pains to point out that their ingredients list excludes high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and artificial flavorings. According to the serving information and adjusting for the serving size, every 250 ml of Q Tonic contains about 10 mg of sodium (less than half the salt contained in Schweppes) and about 12 grams of sugar (again only half as much).

The impression I receive from the label information is that the Q  Tonic not only contains far less sugar and sodium per serving, but it also relies more upon organic ingredients for flavour and its construction than its counterpart. Schweppes seems to be more of a mass-produced or perhaps let me say ‘industrial’ product relying upon a base formulation for construction and natural flavouring agents for flavour. Interestingly, when I checked the ingredients list for Schweppes Ginger-ale, other than the absence of quinine, the ingredients for Schweppes Tonic seem to match very well with the ingredients list which I see upon their Schweppes Ginger-Ale.

My procedure for testing the two tonics was quite simple. I conducted my reviews for each gin just as I normally would do, but I added to the review regimen, the construction of two Gin and Tonic cocktails, one made with Schweppes Tonic and one made with Q Tonic. In each case, I kept track of which of the two cocktails I preferred the most.

As you know, I have finished the reviews of each gin, and they have been published, and of course this means I have finished my side by side Tonic Water comparisons.

And now for the results:

If you have read those reviews and my cocktail suggestions faithfully then I suspect you already know the clear winner, because I tipped my hand when I published my review for Beefeater 24 (London Dry Gin). In that  review, for the suggested cocktail (which of course was the Gin and Tonic), I unabashedly recommended Q Tonic as my new go-to Tonic Water. It was, to be completely frank, just plain tastier in every side by side cocktail tasting I conducted. I am not really sure why it tasted so much better than Schweppes, maybe it was the all natural ingredients, maybe it was the reduced sodium content, or maybe it was the absence of high fructose sugar. But, for a guy like me who enjoys a quality cocktail and who is not afraid to spend a little extra, Q Tonic will be my new go to tonic water when I mix a Gin and Tonic.

Cheers Everyone!!

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