Review: Fentimans Tonic Water

Continuing my interest in tonic waters, I decided to review another brand which is appearing on store shelves: Fentimans Beverages. You may have seen their other products, such as Curiosity Cola, Shandy, and Victorian Lemonade.

Fentimans describes their tonic as “An organic grain base, milled quinine bark and lemongrass from Asia are brought together to create a natural tonic water that is distinctly zesty and brewed to perfection. There is a sharpness derived from the bitter, woody aromas of quinine bark, mixed with a light dose of cane sugar.”

Comparing it to other botique brands, it runs about $2.75 a bottle, compared to Q tonic’s $2.25 and Fever-Tree’s $2.50.

To refresh your memory, here is the ingredient list from my tonic water review along with Fentimans.

  • Fentimans: carbonated water, cane syrup, citric acid, tonic flavor, quinine.
  • Q Tonic: purified water, organic agave (for sweetening), Peruvian quinine, Lemon juice extract, natural flavors.
  • Fever-Tree: spring water, cane sugar, citric acid, natural flavors, Rwanda/Congo quinine.
  • Schweppes: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate, quinine.

‘Tonic flavor’? The fine print describes it as water, lemon oil and ethanol. Mmm!

So how does Fentimans tonic taste? I immediately noticed a chemical/medicinal taste, followed by an overwhelming sweetness. The balance of lemon was off, and pithy flavors dominated. It seems a bit fizzier than the other tonics. To be honest, I’d put it in the same class as Schweppes. To me, it had none of the depth and smoothness that both Fever-Tree and Q Tonic posses.

As I said before, When it comes down to it, the tonic you are going to like depends on your personal taste and what brand of liquor you want to mix it with. The biggest question is whether the boutique versions are worth the price. For Q Tonic and Fever-Tree, I’d say yes. However, I don’t think I would buy the Fentimans again. Furthermore, I would continue to make my tonic water, before I would buy any of them!

You can see my review of Q Tonic and Fever-Tree tonics here, including some reflections on gin.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. courtney says

    couldn’t agree more. i tend to trust the guys at my local wine & cheese shop, but they eagerly recommended me Fentiman’s over Q Tonic (the discovery of which was a life-altering revelation last summer!!), describing the latter as far sweeter. i was pleased with the thought, as i like my G & T very fresh & dry & herbal. instead, i found Fentiman’s as lemony as a lemon lime soda and far sweeter than Q Tonic. reading your other reviews, i am excited to give Fever Tree a try next. and you should give Death’s Door gin a try if it makes its way to the northwest. it’s a delightful match for a nice tonic.

  2. Beth says

    Interesting… this is the second time I have seen Fentimans described as overly sweet… in another review, it came in behind Canada Dry, which was number one! Canada Dry has traditionally been one of my go-to tonic waters, but only for ease of access, as it’s sold pretty much everywhere. (I also like Polar, which may be more of a New England thing.) However, I find Canada Dry cloyingly sweet from the high fructose corn syrup. My favorites are now Fentimans and Fever Tree “Naturally Light” Tonic Water, which is sweetened with fructose. Fentimans is my number one because I just prefer a bit more “old fashioned” flavor, which comes from cane sugar. (Yes, you can tell the difference. Coke with cane sugar is the coke of my childhood, coke with corn syrup is… different.)

  3. Axl says

    I don’t know… Comparing Fentiman’s and Schweppes…really… Fentiman’s is classic style tonic, old fashioned tonic if you will, Schweppes is just sugared ( fructosed) water. Comparing Fever with Fentiman – yes, two different styles but worthy participants both. I personally like Fentiman, but also enjoy the somewhat lighter Fever Tree. By the way, the Fever Tree Mediteranean ( light blue label) is a very enjoyable summer tonic.

  4. Tgrippaddler says

    Hopefully discriminating readers will try all three of the brands described in the original post/OPIONION!!! I for one, disagree with the reviewer completely. And since the internet allow everyone to be an “Expert” I will too. Fentimans is by far the best. Try them all side-by-side as I have and you may agree. Here’s the ingredients (as if anyone cares, except someone with the need to blah blah blah)

    To refresh your memory, here is the ingredient list from my tonic water review along with Fentimans.

    Fentimans: carbonated water, cane syrup, citric acid, tonic flavor, quinine.

    Q Tonic: purified water, organic agave (for sweetening), Peruvian quinine, Lemon juice extract, natural flavors.

    Fever-Tree: spring water, cane sugar, citric acid, natural flavors, Rwanda/Congo quinine.

    Schweppes: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate, quinine.

    • says

      Based on the ingredients alone, I’d go for Q Tonic. Once something like “tonic flavor” is added, I start thinking about chemicals.

      That being said, thanks for the comment!

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