Soda Water Tasting – Mixer Companion VII

The History

Soda water is carbon dioxide dissolved in water and it was the first carbonated soft drink. Although the water from some natural springs has a light carbonation effect, it wasn’t until the 18th Century that carbonated water was created artificially and bottled for sale.

Artificially carbonated water (or soda water) was invented in 1767 by Natural Philosopher and Clergyman, Joesph Priestley*. It has been suggested that at the time he theorised that it could have been a possible cure for scurvy. He created soda water in his initial experiments by suspending a bowl of water over a beer vat in a Leeds brewery; the carbon dioxide from the fermenting beer dissolved into the water, thereby giving it a fizz. At the time, this was known as “fixed water”.

Priestley never pursued any commercial gain from his discovery, but a jeweller from Geneva, Jacob Schweppe, did.

Schweppe was a self-described “enthusiastic amateur scientist” and spent his spare time recreating experiments that he read about in scientific journals. After recreating the experiments, he decided to continue with them in search of a marketable product. Initially, he gave samples away for free, but by 1783 he was successfully selling them under the Schweppe name.

Today, soda water is created around the world and also known as carbonated water, club soda, fizzy water and seltzer.

The Tasting

Soda water is just soda water, right?

Well, that’s what I thought, until I did a mini tasting of a few varieties and was surprised at how different they were. After that little experiment, I decided that the topic need a closer look.

In addition to tasting the waters on their own, I tasted them in a great soda water cocktail, the Gin Collins. I used Brecon Dry Gin – the only Welsh Gin. Tomorrow, I will feature an article that looks at this spirit in a little more depth.

Schweppes

Made by the company founded by Jacob Schweppe.

Own
This had a high level of fizz and had a slightly chalky, mineral-like quality. Overall, it was quite clean and rather nice.
Gin Collins
Very, very fizzy, this was also slightly musky, with citrus and juniper coming through afterwards. I found this to be quite refreshing, but probably too effervescent for most.

1870

Made by the Silver Spring company, who also make a variety of own-brand supermarket mixers.

Own
On its own, the soda water was aggressively fizzy; almost coarse on the tongue. For some panel members, the powerful fizz made this quite difficult to drink. A very basic mixer that is very effervescent.
Gin Collins
Quite a standard Gin Collins; refreshing, but maybe a bit too fizzy.

Perrier

Perrier have been selling water since 1898. The Perrier spring is located in the Gard district, in the city of Vergèze, which is located in the south of France, between Nîmes and Montpellier. It’s also worth noting that when drinking an Americano in A View To A Kill, James Bond specifies using Perrier, stating that the easiest way to improve a poor drink was by using a good mixer.

Own
Quite different to the soda waters, this had a medium level of fizz and a richer mouth feel. Very fresh and clean. The fizz was very pleasant, reminiscent of Champagne.
Gin Collins
Rather tasty and particularly fresh. Clean, with a decent effervescence that is not overpowering. Top notch.

Fevertree

This is a relatively recent release from the company that started the trend in Premium Mixers, with their lemonade, ginger beer and variety of tonics.

Own
An intriguing, peachy nose and quite intense bubbles made this come across as rather fruity. Fresh and invigorating, this was a definite favourite of the panel.
Gin Collins
Crisp and fresh. This drink had a good balance of fizz, with a few fruity hints from the water. There was also a little touch of chalk, but all-in-all it was really pretty good.

San Peligrino

Own
With a very low level of fizziness, this came across as rather drab and in need of a bit more power. There was also a little bitterness at the end; generally, it was flat and a tad cloying. Some of the panel likened it to dissolvable aspirin.
Gin Collins
Okay and quite fresh, but rather flat; it needed both more fizz and flavour.

*Priestley is  a pretty interesting character and I must seek out a biography of him; in addition to inventing soda water, he discovered/invented the pencil eraser (he called it a rubber) and was a co-discoverer of oxygen.

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About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… www.summerfruitcup.com Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

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