Following a gin and tonic tasting in New York, Charles Rolls – who built his reputation running Plymouth Gin – joined forces with Tim Warrillow, who had a background in luxury food marketing, to analyze the composition of mixers. They discovered that the majority were preserved with sodium benzoate or similar substances, while cheap orange aromatics such as decanal and artificial sweeteners (such as saccharin) were widespread. And so started a 15-month journey. Days in the British Library researching quinine sources from as far back as 1620, trips to find the purest strains of this key ingredient and 5 iterations of the recipe were tasted before Charles and Tim were happy with the result and the first bottle of Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water was produced in 2005.
HISTORY OF THE ‘FEVER TREE’
Legend has it that the bark of the fever tree was first used by the Spanish in the early 1630s when it was given to the Countess of Chinchon, who had contracted malaria (known colloquially as the ‘fever’) whilst living in Peru. The Countess recovered and the healing properties of the tree were discovered. Despite this success its reputation was slow to catch on, it was imported to Europe under the name ‘Jesuits Powder’ which proved a very poor selling strategy in Protestant England. Even when Charles II in 1679 was cured of the ‘fever’ its popularity was not assured as its use remained the secret of his physician (Robert Talbor). However, the healing power of this remarkable tree only became world-renowned in the 1820’s when officers of the British Army in India, in an attempt to ward off malaria, mixed quinine (the extract from the bark of the fever tree) with sugar and water, creating the first Indian Tonic Water. It was made more palatable when they added a little expedient of gin to the mixture. The original gin and tonic was thus born, and soon became the archetypal drink of the British Empire, the origins of which were firmly planted in the fever tree.
At Fever-Tree, it’s all about taste. Which is why co-founders Charles and Tim have travelled to some of the most remote, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous, regions of the world to source the highest quality natural ingredients from small specialist suppliers.
Quinine is the key ingredient, and the essential bitterness, in tonic water. The brand name Fever-Tree was chosen as it is the colloquial name for the cinchona tree, the bark of which produces quinine. After much research, a specific type of fever tree plantation (known as cinchona Ledgeriana) located on the Rwanda/Congo border, was found to be producing the purest quinine in the world. For Charles and Tim, there was no other option but to source Fever-Tree’s quinine from this plantation – the only drinks company to be doing so.
Some of the other natural ingredients include :
- Fresh Green Ginger – From The Ivory Coast
- Nigerian Ginger – From Nigeria
- Cochin Ginger – From South West India
- 'Sfumatrice' Lemon Extracts – From Sicily
- Lemon Thyme And Rosemary – From the shores of the Mediterranean
- Natural Sugar – Natural cane sugar or fruit sugar
- Soft Spring Water – From The Elmhurst Spring
- Bitter Orange – From Zygoma, Tanzania
Here is a short presentation of Fever-Tree beverages