An Update from Thomas Henry – Innovators in Tonic

Anyone who has spoken to me about tonic water, the natural partner of gin, in the last year or so will have heard me sing the praises of Thomas Henry, a German soft drinks brand. Thomas Henry was an apothecary from Manchester, England. He is attributed with the first production of carbonated water (the first fizzy drink/soda) in 177.

Not only do Thomas Henry make great traditional mixers (Tonic, Soda, Bitter Lemon, Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer), but they are also tonic innovators, starting with their Elderflower Tonic and continuing with two new products: Tonic Bitters and Companion Cookies.

Tonic Bitters
These were developed along with The Bitter Truth, who are well-known for their range of historical bitters, liqueurs and waters.

The Pink Gin & Tonic (a Gin & Tonic with a few dashes of bitters) is a popular variation on the classic drink that I was quite a fan of for a long time (it was my go-to drink after a long day in retail).

Companion Cookies
“What are Companion Cookies?”, I hear you cry. Well, they are little biscuits that have been designed to accompany a Gin & Tonic. They contain neither gin, nor tonic, but are meant to complement the drink.

A small batch were originally made by a bakery-confectioner near Thomas Henry’s HQ and such was their success that multiple batches have since been made.

I tried them out at a recent Juniper Society and they went down well; I also tried them back in the SummerFruitCup tasting room.

I decided to try both the Bitters and Cookies with a few different gins:

1. Classic London Dry (Hayman’s)
with Bitters:
Rather tasty – the bitters add some hints of spice, such as nutmeg and cloves. Also, an extra gentian-like bitterness. This adds something to an already classic Gin & Tonic, complementing the strong juniper notes.

with Cookies:
The biggest contrast out of all of the gins that I tried, but it still works well. The very dry flavours are the exact opposite of those of the cookies, but they nonetheless pair well with the dry, piney juniper of the Gin & Tonic.

2. Classic Style from the USA (BIG Gin)
with Bitters:
A lovely, mellow drink with an extra spicy flavour. A really, really tasty drink; rather luscious. The Bitters add a slight sweetness to the drink, but not too much.

with Cookies:
The gin has a fair dose of juniper and then some cardamom; this spice works well with the cookies in a take-a-sip, have-a-bite and repeat function.
particularly if you try taking a sip of the gin, then having a bite of cookie, and repeating.

3. Contemporary American Dry (Bluecoat)
with Bitters:
Even with only three dashes, the Bitters really changes the character of this drink, making it much more bitter, as well as more clean and crisp. The citrus of the gin is still very present. I think that this drink, more than any of the others, illustrates the difference that Bitters can make.

with Cookies:
This is a different sort of gin, being very heavy on the citrus, and the synergy with the Companion Cookies just isn’t there to the same extent as it is with the others; the cookies almost seem too sweet for it.

4. Contemporary New Western Gin (Aviation)
with Bitters:
The smokiness comes through much more with the Bitters, as do the lavender and cardamom, and the sarsaparilla (nutmeg and cloves) on the nose come through a lot less. The Bitters certainly seem to modify and enhance, rather than add, flavour in this drink.

with Cookies:
The rather intense flavour of the gin is balanced nicely by the simple, but tasty flavour of the biscuits; they manage to contrast, but complement at the same time. The sweetness works well, just as olives do, with Aviation; you could even try a mixture of the two.

5. Austrian (Lebensstern Dry)
with Bitters:
The Bitters create a more herbal and jammy Gin & Tonic, along with a balancing bitterness towards the end. The sweet spice in the Bitters works subtly with the gin’s jamminess, making for a well-rounded drink.

with Cookies:
This gin is quite rich and so the buttery cookie, with a hint of chocolate, balances out the rich, jammy notes of this drink. After tasting the cookie, the Gin & Tonic refreshes the palate, readying you for another bite! There’s a very pleasant symbiance between the two with this gin.

Glorious Milk

A rather interesting bonus product “glorious milk” which has created some intrigue online, it turns out that is is a sort of energy drink with 32mg of caffeine per 100ml and it is made in Austria. As I don’t speak German I am unsure if it has any dairy in it but (perhaps it is just suggestion) I do get a little creaminess towards the end. Overall the drink tastes like a cross between RedBull and Crema Soda.

Thomas Henry tonic water Bitters are available for around £15 for 200ml from TheDrinkShop.com

Tonic Update: Thomas Henry’s Elderflower Tonic Water

A little while ago we tried and reviewed Thomas Henry Mixers and it would be an understatement to say we were impressed. Of the varieties we tried the Tonic Water was, in my opinion the best and beyond that of the 60+ tonic waters I have tried it is one of the, if not the, best.

So imagine how excited I was when I found that they had released an Elderflower Flavour Tonic Water.

From The Thomas Henry Website

“Known for centuries for its healing powers, the blossoms, also known as of the lilac or elder, are shrubs that are currently on everyone’s lips – whether as a syrup, liqueur, in cocktails or in champagne.

First in a limited edition only, the Elderflower Tonic will be included into the regular Thomas Henry beverages range depending on the corresponding positive feedback.”

Own
nose: fresh, juicy elderberry and dry elderflower
taste: initially jammy flavour-like elderberry then an intense clean bitter hit from the quinine followed by a dry floral elderflower finish. Well made and tasty balanced and not cloying very much an adult drink.

With Plymouth Gin
Really nice, still obviously a gin and tonic but with a sweet fruity note from the tonic. Juniper and coriander and other botanicals from Plymouth comes through well and there is plenty of breathing space for the gin. Reminds me of Lebensstern Dry and tonic (the jammy notes).

With Knockeen Hills Elderflower
This is lovely, so so smooth, fresh, light and flavourful.Some strong elderflower and citrus to start and then the finer flavours of the gin. Simply superb!

With Vodka
Quite nice, the quinine seems a little curbed here and there is some fresh sweet floral notes. Despite the added flavour and sweetness the drink is still quite clean.

This is one of the best flavoured tonics around.

Thomas Henry Mixers Review – Tonic Water, Bitter Lemon Etc…

Thomas Henry Tonic Water is just one of a range of mixers produced by this German firm that we shall be reviewing today.

I’ve long been interested in tonic water and, after a recent tot-up, I realised I have now tried over 50 different varieties; so you can imagine my intrigue when Simon Difford’s digital version of Class Magazine gave first place in their Tonic Water tasting to a product that I had never even heard of, let alone tried.

Needless to say, I quickly got on the phone to Germany to find out more about it. I spoke to Sebastian Brack, who told me that, in addition to the acclaimed tonic water, they also make Bitter Lemon, Ginger Ale, Ginger Beer and Soda Water; he was kind enough to send me samples of the first four of these.*

Thomas Henry was an apothecary from Manchester, England. He is attributed with the first production of carbonated water (the first fizzy drink/soda) in 1773; he made this  in 12-gallon barrels. The technology he used was based on the system by Joseph Priestly (who invented/discovered carbonated water in 1767). It wasn’t until 1794 that Jacob Schweppe started production of his sparkling water.

Tonic Water

1) Own
Clean, crisp, fresh and light. This is not too heavy in terms of citrus and has a balanced sweetness. It has a high-to-medium level of fizz and a good depth of flavour, with some earthy bitterness and a touch of sweet citrus at the end.
2) Gin & Tonic
i) As always in my tonic water tastings, I used Plymouth Gin for this Gin & Tonic. The drink was excellent: the full flavour of the gin comes through, with added bitter and fresh characteristics from the tonic. It was clean and crisp, with a brilliant balance; exactly how a Gin & Tonic should be.
ii) For a second G&T, I used Knockeen Hills Elderflower Gin. Superb; I was surprised at how much of the flora and fruity elderflower notes from the gin were brought out by this tonic water. There was a touch of sugar at the end, but the cocktail is neither too sweet, nor cloying. This was a great way to enhance the gin and a very tasty Gin & Tonic.
3) Vodka
I used Beluga Vodka. With Thomas Henry Tonic, this made a pleasant drink, with the underlying vodka coming through. This drink seems quite clean and refreshing, and citrus notes are more prominent. Once again, the mixer complements the spirit, rather than overpowering it.

Bitter Lemon

1) Own
Good levels of citrus, sweetness and bitterness. Medium fizz with a full, but not overpowering, flavour. There’s also a good tang at the end, as well as a crisp bitterness, rather than a nasty cloying effect.
2) With Xoriguer Gin
This is a traditional way to drink this Xoriguer Mahon Gin, from Menorca; the floral and herbaceous flavours of the gin are very strong and cooling, and the bitter lemon provides a crisp, citrus finish. This gin can also be used to make a great Gin & Tonic.
3) With Sloe Gin
I used the Marks & Spencer Sloe Gin (made by Boudier, In France) Delicious; a gentle way to lengthen your sloe gin in the summer. The bitter and tangy citrus contrasts nicely with the sweet, fruity and marzipan characteristics of the sloe gin.

Ginger Ale

1) Own
Thomas Henry’s Ginger Ale has a typical ginger ale nose, with ginger, citrus, and a hint of sugar, all of which are quite light. It has a medium-to-high fizz and quite light flavours, including subtle ginger. There’s good effervescence, although it’s a touch cloying. Still, it is a fresh and unobtrusive mixture that should work well with most spirits.
2) Gin Buck
Quite nice, with a ginger-nut biscuit fieriness. Flavours of the gin come through strongly and the drink is not too sickly, although in vast quantities it may become so.
3) Horses Neck
An unobtrusive mix: the ginger ale gives the brandy room to breathe and the flavours come through. For my taste, it’s a tad sweet and could do with some more fire, but it’s still rather good.

Ginger Beer

1) Own
A very familiar nose of a good standard ginger beer. Reminds me of my standard when using the soft drink, D&G’s Old Jamaica. A cool start, with medium-to-high fizz, musky ginger and then sweeter, with medium fire from the ginger. A very good mixer and comparable to Old Jamaica, but not better.
2) Moscow Mule
Works well; the ginger beer is not too intrusive, but does add something to the mix. The drink isn’t sickly or overpowering and is a good standard for the Moscow Mule, but not spectacular.
3) Dark ‘N Stormy
Pretty tasty. The ginger beer let’s the dark burnt sugar of the rum through, whilst adding the fresh combination of lime and ginger, as well as a fiery kick. Very tasty and above average, but not exceptional.

In Conclusion

I think that it’s clear from my review that I am impressed with Thomas Henry mixers overall, the Ginger Beer and Ale being of a good standard and the Bitter Lemon being better than most of its competitors (it was the bitter-sweet balance that did it). But Thomas Henry’s Tonic Water was the real gem of the tasting; it is truly exceptional and possibly the best I have ever had (a blind run-off of my top 5 is in order, I think).
Overall, this is an excellent range. I hope that they find a UK distributor soon so that we can all get a chance to try and enjoy them.

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The Thomas Henry Products are not available in the UK but if you are and importer/distributor and think it may be of interest please Contact Them Here.

.* Sebastian seemed a little bemused at how much e-mail interest he had been getting from the UK in the previous day; once I had explained about the article (and e-mailed him a link) it became much clearer.