Interview - Fever Tree Tonic Water & Mixers
When it comes to mixers to use with quality spirits, there should be one name to ask for … Fever Tree. A premium brand that uses only the most incredible ingredients and methods, each product stands beautifully on its own but also makes for the perfect complement to your favourite mixed drinks.
FFW: What is the philosophy behind Fever Tree?
FEVER TREE: It is very simple; Fever-Tree strives to go to the end of the world to source the highest quality ingredients – taste is everything!
We strongly believe that if ¾ of your drink is the mixer; make sure you use the best.
FFW: Your ingredients come from all over the world; what quality assurances can you give to consumers about the quality and safety of the foods?
FEVER TREE: We have the strictest standard when it comes to the quality of ingredients and the safety of food. We cannot claim to be the best if this is not met!
All of our ingredients are hand-picked from our privately owned ingredient locations, e.g. the Quinine. From there we have a stringent quality assurance process that is implemented to make sure the ingredients meet our standards. When the goods go to production in England we have a highly sophisticated facility that produces Fever-Tree to the highest standard that we have set.
FFW: From what countries are you sourcing your ingredients?
FEVER TREE: We source our ingredients from all over the world!
At Fever-Tree, taste is everything which is why co-founders Charles and Tim have travelled to some of the most remote, beautiful and dangerous regions of the world to source the highest quality natural ingredients from small specialist suppliers.
Quinine – This is from the Congo. The brand name, ‘Fever-Tree’, is the colloquial name for the cinchona tree, the bark of which produces quinine, the essential bitterness in tonic. After much research, a fever tree plantation was found in the Congo which produced the purest form of quinine in the world. Being the only drinks company to use this high quality ingredient, Tim Warrillow (co-founder) travelled out to the war torn region to visit the thriving plantation.
Ginger – Fever-Tree’s Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale are created using a blend of three gingers, sourced from three very different locations:
Fresh Green Ginger from the Ivory Coast – The discovery of this ginger was a real ‘eureka’ moment for Charles and Tim. It is light and fresh in its aroma due to the oils being extracted as soon as the ginger is harvested. Charles visited the farmers in the Ivory Coast who are cultivating this unique ginger and distilling the oils especially for Fever-Tree.
Ginger from Nigeria – the Nigerian ginger has an aromatic intensity that adds depth to the ginger flavour.
Ginger from Cochin – uniquely rich and earthy, almost chocolatey in its aroma, this ginger complements the flavour notes in the Nigerian ginger and Fresh Green Ginger perfectly.
Lemon Thyme and Rosemary from Provenance – the team were determined to keep pushing the boundaries for the benefit of consumers. Fever-Tree’s Mediterranean Tonic includes many essential oils of citrus and herbs gathered from around the shores of the Mediterranean. Lemon Thyme and Rosemary are two of the ingredients from Provenance which provide the tonic with its uniquely floral aroma, boosting the subtle aromas of great vodkas and lighter gins.
Sfumatrice Lemon Extracts from Sicily – Some of the world’s finest lemons grow on the fertile slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, extracts of which are used in Fever-Tree tonics, premium lemon and lemonade. To extract the high quality oils from the skin of the lemons, ‘Sfumatrice’ equipment is used to gently hand press the lemons – normally a process reserved for the perfume industry.
FFW: Who do you see as your ideal type of customer? Would you say it’s more male or female oriented?
FEVER TREE: I think our ideal customer is anyone who wants to pay that extra bit to get exactly what they want. In the current market a lot of consumers are picking their spirit for their drink and then it is being ruined by the mixer (which is 3/4 of the drink). Consumers should be picking their spirit and then using a high quality mixer to achieve the high quality drink they were after.
Our consumer split is very equal male and female. Gin & Tonics are making a huge comeback at the moment and our Ultimate Gin and Tonic can be enjoyed by everyone.
FFW: How is the flavour profile different in your drinks compared with lesser quality drinks?
FEVER TREE: The two obvious differences are the bubbles and there is nothing artificial about Fever-Tree.
We have no artificial sweeteners in any of our products (or any artificial flavourings or preservatives). This makes the flavour profile exactly what it should be; when you have the Ginger Beer, you really taste the ginger; there is no lingering after taste of sugar that makes you have to drink more to keep the ginger flavour on your palate.
The champagne bubbles allow you to taste the rich ingredients. A lot of ‘lesser quality drinks’ use larger carbonated bubbles which doesn’t allow the palate to fully appreciate the flavour, it just rolls off the tongue. These drinks also make you feel bloated instantly due to the high carbonation levels; ours does not.
FFW: How does a quality mixer impact on the ultimate result when preparing drinks with high end spirit brands?
FEVER TREE: This mixer allows you to appreciate the taste of the high end spirit brand. A lot of other mixers mask the incredible taste of all of these spirits. These brands have spent a long time perfecting their taste profiles; why ruin it all and spend that extra money for it and then not enjoy it?
Our mixers complement the premium spirits perfectly and we have a mixer to match every type of spirit out there and meet the demand of any palate.
FFW: Can you explain ‘champagne-style carbonation’ to our readers?
FEVER TREE: The simple science behind the bubbles is that they are smaller than every day bubbles!
The process normally happens during fermentation of champagne and carbonic gases naturally occur, however we carbonate our mixers with high end equipment to mimic this effect. This highly carbonated mixer makes the taste very smooth and supports the fuller mouth feel of the natural ingredients that Fever-Tree use.
FFW: How do you see the positioning of Fever Tree?
FEVER TREE: We see Fever-Tree as THE high end premium mixer. When we came to the market in 2005 there was no competition here. We see ourselves as the mixer drink specialist. Pioneering a new premium mixer drink category worldwide, we’ve averaged two new products per year, each taking a similarly intrepid attitude to sourcing the highest quality ingredients.
Gin & Tonic - The quintessential British long drink, and the world’s most popular cocktail. Yet, over the decades, the tonic, ¾ of this iconic drink, has been neglected and commoditised by a succession of conglomerate owners, more concerned with cost cutting than quality.
FFW: What issues do Fever Tree drinks solve for consumers?
FEVER TREE: The main issue we solve is consumer demand. Consumers have been drinking mixed cocktails for a very long time now and not fully appreciating the flavour of the spirit or even the mixer that makes up ¾ of that drink. Now consumers can go out and really enjoy their drinks and appreciate the hard work that has gone into their creation.
FFW: Have Fever Tree products received any interesting reviews?
FEVER TREE: I wouldn’t say that Fever-Tree has received any interesting reviews, however it has seemed some amazing reviews from prestigious people.
Some Awards to consider – 2011 Great Taste Award, Cool Brand 2011, Drinks Company of the Year 2011; 31st fastest growing privately owned company in the UK; 32nd fastest growing export company; Gold award at the prestigious Sofi Awards in San Francisco; Best Product at Tales of the Cocktail à just to name a few.
Reviews – Class Magazine ‘Risking life and limb for a decent G&T. That’s an ethos I can definitely sign up to.’ Sunday Telegraph – ‘Best tonic is Fever-Tree which has revolutionised the G&T in recent years’. Listed by Restaurant Magazine 2013 - ‘Proudly served in 7 of the top 10 restaurants in the world’. Financial Times – ‘The era of the dismal mixer is over’. Ferran Adria, El Bulli – ‘Fever-Tree is an outstanding mixer.’
FFW: Do you provide your customers (retail and foodservice) with education about the ingredients, or serving suggestions, recipes or positioning guidance?
FEVER TREE: Of course we do; we provide a sample box of all of the range for all suppliers to test the products and also recommended serves in various presenters.
However at the end of the day it is up to the consumer how they want to consume the product, the world is their oyster.
FFW: What kinds of retailers stock your products?
FEVER TREE: Fever-Tree is stocked nationally, in all major banner groups, including Dan Murphy’s.
FFW: And what kinds of foodservice businesses are serving your products to their customers?
FEVER TREE: Fever-Tree is served in a variety of venues from small bars, e.g. Baxter’s Inn (Best Bar in Australia 2013) to a high end premium cocktail bar e.g. Eau De Vie in Sydney. We are also stocked in a variety of hotels across Australia from the QT, to Hayman Island to the 6 star Palazzo Versace in Queensland. We are not just meeting the demands of premium customers; every customer is falling in love with Fever-Tree and once they try it, they cannot go back.
FFW: Has any one product been embraced in Australia more than others so far? Does there seem to be a seasonal variation in which products outsell others at certain times of year?
FEVER TREE: The Indian Tonic is definitely the favourite of all consumers; this is probably because of the rise of the Gin & Tonic. However during the winter period the Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale have definitely come into their own. With their warm flavours and appealing palate, consumers have definitely chosen to pick this one up.
FFW: What are the most compelling virtues of your brand?
FEVER TREE: We strongly believe that if ¾ of your drink is the mixer; make sure you use the best à we are the best.
FFW: What is your favourite Fever Tree product and how do you enjoy it?
FEVER TREE: My favourite Fever-Tree product would have to be the Mediterranean Tonic. I am a big lover of the Gin & Tonic and this adds the perfect twist to the traditional serve due to its floral notes. I recommend a Hayman’s London Dry Gin with the Mediterranean Tonic for the perfect modern twist on a traditional serve.
FFW: Are there any new products, flavours or other exciting developments in the pipeline?
FEVER TREE: We are looking to bring 500ml bottles over to Australia, the 4-packs don’t seem to keep the demand at bay for long enough. So consumers will be able to pick these up in retail outlets in the near future.
FFW: And just for fun, if you could have any person in the world as the Fever Tree brand ambassador, who would you choose and why?
FEVER TREE: Kate Middleton – she probably already drinks the stuff! She is the quintessential English female who would always be partial to a Gin & Tonic. Also she is a very well trusted figure internationally and captures the hearts of everyone.
This would be a perfect match for the brand and really continue to push the brand in the premium market and yet it would be seen as reachable to everyone.