We’ve been focussed on gin lately but what about the tonic?
Charles Rolls and Tim Warrillow – who founded Fever-Tree in 2005 – did so because they thought quality gins were being compromised by substandard tonic. Thus began 15 months of research and expedition. Quinine, a medication used to treat malaria, is a key ingredient in tonic; one Charles and Tim researched thoroughly in their attempt to find the purest strains. The best they could find came from a tree plantation on the Rwanda/Congo border. This is where the name Fever-Tree comes in.
“Fever tree” is actually a nickname for the cinchona tree – and its bark produces quinine. We don’t know when Charles and Tim decided to use the term for themselves but their trip to the plantation convinced them it was the perfect place to do business with.
Once sourced the quinine was blended with spring water and botanicals such as marigold extract and Tanzanian bitter orange. Nothing artificial went near it. The result was Fever-Tree’s Indian Tonic Water, a now award-winning mixer followed by Mediterranean Tonic Water and Elderflower Tonic Water. Each has their distinctive qualities but the quinine always comes from the same plantation. It’s not Fever-Tree’s only source though, and neither is tonic the only drink they specialise in.
Their Sicilian Lemonade contains extracts from some fine lemons indeed. Grown on the slopes of Mount Etna they are then fed through a piece of processing equipment called Sfumatrice. A popular machine in the industry it is able to extract an extraordinary amount of oil from the skin of the lemons. The extract is also used to make Lemon Tonic, Fever-Tree’s version of the soft drink Bitter Lemon. On top of those there’s Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale. Fever-Tree get their ginger from three different locations: Nigeria, South West India and the Ivory Coast in West Africa. The ginger from the Ivory Coast is particularly noteworthy as the African farmers extract its oils as soon as it is harvested. Ginger Beer won a Great Taste Award in 2013.
In fact Fever-Tree have won 5 Great Taste Awards. Their produce was voted Best Mixer at the 2015 Australian Liquor Industry Awards; the respected poll World’s 50 Best Bars awarded them #1 Best Selling and Top Trending 2 years in a row; and this year they won the most prestigious business award in the land, The Queen’s Award For Enterprise.
11 years in and Fever-Tree are proving to be quite formidable.