East Imperial Tonic Water review

This might be the tonic water you might not find directly. To be honest, I haven't heard of it before.

When Florence from our supplier Classic Fine Foods asked me for a meeting, she made quite a mystery about the product, she wanted to let me try. We sat down and I tried - first of all neat - and than with gin [and ice].

I will spare, to bombard you with another story [which might or might not be created in a marketing department]. But you want to know how it fares?

The Presentation:
This is just wow. The label coloured in a purple with silver fonts, is just beautiful. The funny thing is, that it comes also in very small bottles - 150 ml. But while the 125 ml of Fentiman's is really too short, the 150 ml seems really to work much better! Kudos to them - they really might have thought about it! However I still would prefer a bottle which is around 180 ml - I love my G&T double - and for a double, 150 ml might just be not enough!

This tonic water seems directly quite "root driven". It is tough - it smells almost blunt like faded brown spices [but nothing bright like cinnamon], a bit dusty - and the taste is very similar. Very unique... not everyones taste... or lets say it like that - a person who is drinking from time to time some tonic, will refuse to accept it! Strangely - it doesn't seem to have any acidity in it.
A positive note - carbonation is awesome! Nice fine bubbles [or should I say perlage?], it isn't at all flat as e.g. Fevertree.

With Bombay Sapphire:
Bombay Sapphire [47% abv - the good stuff!] is a very versatile gin, very bright, very friendly. And it takes a bit the edge of it - but it is far from being agreeable - it just doesn't have the freshness a G&T is gonna give you. If you are adding lime or lemon [squeezing several wedges!] it gets suddenly better. It not only becomes drinkable, but definitely enjoyable and unique in a positive way.

With GinMare:
GinMare is also a pretty unique product, rather playing on the savoury notes of gin [e.g. they use olives as part of the botanicals]. Combined with the East Imperial tonic it becomes unbearable. Really. Add some lemon, it is better. But not great.

With Tanqueray Rangpur:
Well, I have a slightly bit left, after a staff party, where it went almost awol [the guys just took it, instead of the new bottle of Bombay Sapphire - idiots] - I know, it is still a rare find - but as Tanqueray is keeping it on their website, I guess, it will be available?! I just wanted to use a very citrus driven gin and Rangpur is pretty much the most citrus driven gin, you can drink. But even then, without lime/lemon, the gin&tonic is pretty... weak. Yeah - drinkable - but not great. However add some lemon, and it becomes alive. One very tasty G&T indeed!

What do I think:
Stay away of this tonic, when you are lazy. When you are just pouring a glass of gin and some tonic and some ice into the glass, but you don't like to cut a fresh lemon or lime. Stay away of this tonic, when you like juniper driven and/or spicy/vegetal/savory gins. Your volume tonic water would fare much better in this case. But... I just love it. I like the corkiness - and that it is not conform like any other product.
Look, there are a lot of tonic waters out there nowadays, and sometimes I am suspicious, that the producer are buying the commercial products and just bottling them into their unique [and often beautiful] packaging/bottles. But East Imperial is definitely not like that. It taste so different that it is head turning! But... I don't understand them. On the ingredients list the only acidic ingredient is ascorbic acid - which is definitely used as antioxidant [more or less, it is vitamin C] - but not as flavour agent [ascorbic acid is brutally bitter]. No citric acid. At all. No citrus juices - at all!
Adding citric acid to it, makes a bit less different tonic water - but definitely much more enjoyable.

...Did they just forgot the citric acid???

I guess, it will be also an interesting drink ingredient. Unfortunately one tiny bottle, which I tried in our meeting and just another tiny bottle was not enough, to try it in a cocktail [it was barely enough, to taste it with 2 gins...]. As there is almost no acidity in it, it will not modify the balance of a drink too much - you could use it in a Gin Rickey [you call it then Tonic Rickey?] or Gin Tonic Fizz. By the way - sweetness is there, but very subtle - one of the least sweet tonic waters around!

East Imperial is a great tonic water in the light, that it is not just a repackaging of a known taste. However it needs some serious tweaking, when served! But as we are talking about bars, some lemon or lime and a careful selection of gin, shouldn't be a problem.

By the way, they also offer a club soda and a ginger beer. The ginger beer, hasn't landed in Dubai yet - if I will try it, I will let you know. The club soda is rather pointless. Don't get me wrong, the water comes from New Zealand, and it is quite enjoyable - with a good fizz - however it is just pointless, to pay a premium for forced carbonated sparkling water!!!


  1. Do you know where to find east imperial in Dubai?

    1. Dear "Unknown" (really? can you please add your name, if you want to know anything?

      Check out the East Imperial website - I am sure, that Kevin will let you know, where you can have it here in Dubai...

    2. And I checked our procurement: Classic Fine Foods LLC are distributing East Imperial in Dubai.

  2. Thanks for the review!

    Do you happen to know if you were tasting the East Imperial "Old World Tonic Water" or the East imperial "Burma Tonic Water"?

    1. Thanks for reading my article - sorry just seen now your comment. Please consider to use your name for the comments!

      I have reviewed the original (purple) East Imperial. Given that it was a review from 2014 - and this was the tonic they started with.
      I tried also the Burma tonic and I have to say it is interesting - but not as ground breaking. It is far more your “everyday tonic” with a bit more “root’y” aromas. Also good though but not so versatile, when it comes to mixology.


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