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The Tonic & Mixer Masters 2024 results

While regular Indian tonic is still incredibly popular, brands are increasingly finding success with more characterful expressions.

Which tonics and mixers shone in the 2024 blind tasting?

In a market that has been historically dominated by the likes of Schweppes and Fever-Tree, the tonic and mixer category has expanded and welcomed numerous entrants that are bringing more unusual techniques and flavours to the sector.

The category is also in healthy growth, as seen in the UK, with the soft drink and mixer sector valued at £4.6 billion (US$5.8bn) in the year to 4 November 2023 (a year-on-year rise of 3.8%), according to Fentimans’ Premium Soft Drinks and Mixers Market Report 2024. The premium soft drink and mixer market is worth £450 million (US$569m), and has a 6.3% share of the segment. It’s clear that drinkers are trading up to higher-quality offerings to pair with spirits, or even choosing to consume mixers on their own as demand for flavoursome alcohol-free drinks grows.

Elevate your drinks

But how do you decide which products to elevate your base spirit with in a crowded marketplace? This is exactly what our annual competition, The Tonic & Mixer Masters, is here to do.

This year’s blind tasting was split between two panels, and was held in Bancone Golden Square in London. The first panel was chaired by Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor of The Spirits Business, who was joined by David T Smith, spirits writer, consultant and co-founder of the Craft Distilling Expo, and Allison Strydom, founder of Gin Squares.

Matt Chambers, spirits writer and founder of the Whisky For Everyone blog, chaired the second panel, which was made up of Dan Greifer, bar supervisor at Black Parrot, and spirits judge and consultant Antony Moss.

The first round of the contest, Soda Water, got off to a strong start, with Thomas Henry Soda Water and Poachers Irish Soda Water each taking home a Gold medal. The judges praised Thomas Henry for its “minerality, clean finish and slight dryness” while Poachers was “refreshing with good fizz”.

Indian tonic waters were put to the test next, with five Golds and two Silvers awarded. Gold winner Franklin & Sons Premium Indian Tonic Water impressed Smith with its “freshness, some bitterness, some sweetness, very approachable”. Gold-winning 1642 Premium Tonic Water was lauded for being “sharp and tangy, strong lemon zest feel as well as spices”, according to Greifer, who also enjoyed fellow Gold medallist Hysope Original Tonic Water: “High carbonation, you get the spices and acidity associated with tonic, with the flavours pushing through the carbonation.”

Thomas Henry also took home two more Golds in this round for its Tonic Water and Dry Tonic, while Franklin & Sons won a Gold for its Premium Indian Tonic Water.

Moss said: “The ones that were more expressive were the ones that focused on a specific direction. The Gold medallists could easily be drunk on their own.”

A tasting of low-calorie and light tonics saw Thomas Henry score another Gold for its Dry Tonic, which Chambers said had an “elegant and delicate nose, whiff of lemon zest and something floral, very light and crisp on palate, hint of lemon zest and nice bitterness – very pleasant”. The other Gold medal winner in this flight, Svami Light Tonic Water, offered “solid bright citrus, good bubbles and good texture”. A duo of Silvers concluded the round.

The Tonic Water – Other flight produced the competition’s first Master – Thomas Henry Dry Tonic. Chambers said: “Vibrant and expressive on the nose, uplifting with a hint of lemon zest, super drying on the palate, clean and crisp.” Thomas Henry Botanical Tonic received a Gold and was praised for its “lemon-like aromas” and “woody herbal notes”. A Silver was also awarded to Poachers Citrus Tonic with Irish Rosemary.

The Master standard continued in the Flavoured Tonic Water flight, with Franklin & Sons Rosemary & Black Olive Tonic Water taking the top accolade. Smith praised its “savoury nose with rosemary and olive, some citrus and bitterness, good fizz – ticks all the boxes”. Five brands also took home Golds, including Yuzu Tonic Water, with its “bitter citrus and earthy aromas on the nose, good yuzu notes on the palate, pith and zest, hint of grapefruit, and earthy background notes”. Gold-winning Double Dutch Elderflower Tonic was described as having a “sweet elderflower nose. Slightly grassy. Quite a refreshing taste – slightly minty, with the elderflower coming through”.

Characterful tonic water and mixers were celebrated by the judges

The judges also gave a Gold to Ekobryggeriet Rhubarb Organic Tonic Water, with its “clean, crisp rhubarb notes”, the “bold and refreshing” Poachers Wild Tonic with Irish Elderflower, and Hysope Cucumber Tonic Water, for its “uplifting palate with delicate greenness and fresh cucumber notes”.

Smith was positive about the round: “There are exciting things happening in flavoured tonic now; there’s only so much demand for non-flavoured tonics. The innovation is happening in flavoured tonic, it’s at the forefront of what’s going on. Some will stay and some will go.”

Franklin & Sons secured its second Master in the next round, Flavoured/Infused Carbonated Mixer, for its Pink Grapefruit Soda. Moss noted its “pale pink/zesty precise thiol character, compelling and masterfully expressed”. Chambers enjoyed its “tangy and zesty pink grapefruit on the palate”.

A trio of Golds were awarded to Thomas Henry for its Pink Grapefruit, Mystic Mango, and Wild Berry expressions. Of the mango variant, Chambers noted “fresh mango flesh on the nose, delicious mango notes on the palate, something slightly green and vegetal in the background”. Six Silvers marked the end of the flight.

Smith noted: “It’s quite an exciting category, full of surprises, and with a great range of flavours. A lot of scope for innovation in this category, particularly in the lower-sugar area.”

Sharp and zingy

Meanwhile, three more Masters were discovered in the fruit-based non-carbonated mixer flight. The first, Mikks Yuzu Elder, was praised by Greifer, who said: “Sharp and zingy, the elderflower pops at the end and is delicate and well-integrated. Once diluted, it wasn’t too sweet.”

Strydom enjoyed Master winner Mikks Sour Lemon, noting its “cloudy appearance, lemony nose, lovely fresh zingy flavour with a good balance of sweetness”. Completing the string of Masters was Mikks Ginger Mint, which impressed judges for being “spicy, gingery, fresh and minty”. The round ended with two more Golds for Mikks Coldbrew Cacao, with its “creamy, sweet coffee flavour”, and Mikks Passion Lemon.

Smith said it had been a strong round: “If we look at it from a modifier point of view, these products are a really great way of being able to add quite complex flavours without necessarily having to use fresh fruit. Good application for both on- and off-trade, and for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.”

Moving on to Bitter Lemon, and a Gold was given to Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon, with its “lovely bitter lemon zest on the nose”. A commendable Silver went to Double Dutch Double Lemon.

Three Golds and two Silvers were found in the following flight, Lemonade. Among the Gold winners were Poachers Lemon Soda with Irish Mint, which was “bursting with lemon and mint”; East Imperial Yuzu Lemonade, enjoyed for its “clean and fresh flavours” and “floral nose”; and Franklin & Sons Natural Rose Lemonade, described as having a “floral, red berry nose”.

The Ginger Beer round was a delight for the judges who found a Master in Thomas Henry Spicy Ginger Beer. Chambers said: “Spicy, peppery ginger on nose, earthy aromas, lovely warming ginger spice on the palate, great delivery, fresh ginger.” Three Golds went to Poachers Ginger Beer with Irish Chilli, Hysope Spicy Ginger Beer, and 1642 Ginger Beer.

Greifer said of the Poachers Ginger Beer: “A delicate nose, where the ginger doesn’t knock your socks off. The palate has the right amount of sweetness, and the ginger still pops through, without being overwhelming.” Hysope Spicy Ginger Beer was described as having “classic fiery ginger on nose, slight fizz and good fresh grated ginger on the palate” and 1642 Ginger Beer was lauded for being “extremely fiery, punchy” with “solid ginger notes and citrus”. Two Silvers were also given out.

gin in travel retail
High-quality mixers that elevate spirits are in demand

In the final round, Ginger Ale, Golds went to Double Dutch and Thomas Henry. Double Dutch Ginger Ale was enjoyed by Chambers, who said: “Good ginger cordial aromas on the nose, light fizz and nice warmth; gingerbread with evolving spicy heat, delicious hot and dry finish, good complexity.”

Meanwhile, Thomas Henry Ginger Ale was relished by Moss, who noted: “Ginger comes through on the nose, good fizz and subtle ginger flavour with a little sweetness.” Two Silvers were the final medals to be given out.

As with every blind tasting, the panels resipped all of the Master winners to decide which was their standout expression of the day. Taking the revered Taste Master award was Franklin & Sons Rosemary & Black Olive Tonic Water, which was praised for bringing out the two flavours of rosemary and olive – said to be a unique, savoury combination.

What was evident in the competition was that producers are going to great strides to deliver high-quality liquids that can shine alongside a spirit pairing, and the more unusual flavours – like yuzu and olive – are taking innovation in mixers up a notch.

Soda Water
Company Product Medal
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Soda Water Gold
Poachers Drinks Poachers Irish Soda Water Gold


Indian Tonic Water
Company Product Medal
1642 Sodas 1642 Premium Tonic Water Gold
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Tonic Water Gold
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Dry Tonic Gold
Hysope Hysope Original Tonic Water Gold
Global Brands Franklin & Sons Premium Indian Tonic Water Gold
Svami Svami Original Tonic Water Silver
Poachers Drinks Poachers Classic Tonic Silver


Company Product Medal
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Dry Tonic Gold
Svami Svami Light Tonic Water Gold
Global Brands Franklin & Sons Premium Light Tonic Water Silver
Poachers Drinks Poachers Light Tonic with Irish Rosemary Silver


Tonic Water – Other
Company Product Medal
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Dry Tonic Master
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Botanical Tonic Gold
Poachers Drinks Poachers Citrus Tonic with Irish Rosemary Silver


Flavoured Tonic Water
Company Product Medal
Global Brands Franklin & Sons Rosemary & Black Olive Tonic Water Master & Taste Master
East Imperial East Imperial Yuzu Tonic Water Gold
Hysope Hysope Cucumber Tonic Water Gold
Double Dutch Double Dutch Elderflower Tonic Gold
Poachers Drinks Poachers Wild Tonic with Irish Elderflower Gold
Ekobryggeriet Ekobryggeriet Rhubarb Organic Tonic Water Gold
Ekobryggeriet Ekobryggeriet Spruce Organic Tonic Water Silver
Global Brands Franklin & Sons Rhubarb & Hibiscus Tonic Water Silver


Flavoured/Infused Carbonated Mixer
Company Product Medal
Global Brands Franklin & Sons Pink Grapefruit Soda Master
Global Brands Franklin & Sons Pineapple & Almond Soda Gold
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Pink Grapefruit Gold
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Mystic Mango Gold
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Wild Berry Gold
East Imperial East Imperial Grapefruit Soda Silver
Italfood Qualita e Scelta Fi-Ga Fiori di Guarana Silver
Italfood Qualita e Scelta Fi-Ga Light Fiori di Guarana Silver
Double Dutch Double Dutch Pink Grapefruit Soda Silver
Blends Intelligence Juniper Toronja Silver
Poachers Drinks Poachers Grapefruit Soda with Irish Sea Salt Silver


Non-Carbonated Mixer – Fruit Based
Company Product Medal
Mikks Mikks Yuzu Elder Master
Mikks Mikks Sour Lemon Master
Mikks Mikks Ginger Mint Master
Mikks Mikks Coldbrew Cacao Gold
Mikks Mikks Passion Lemon Gold


Bitter Lemon
Company Product Medal
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon Gold
Double Dutch Double Dutch Double Lemon Silver


Company Product Medal
Poachers Drinks Poachers Lemon Soda with Irish Mint Gold
East Imperial East Imperial Yuzu Lemonade Gold
Global Brands Franklin & Sons Natural Rose Lemonade Gold
Double Dutch Double Dutch Refreshing Lemonade Silver
Svami Svami Salted Lemonade Silver


Ginger Beer
Company Product Medal
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Spicy Ginger Beer Master
Poachers Drinks Poachers Ginger Beer with Irish Chilli Gold
Hysope Hysope Spicy Ginger Beer Gold
1642 Sodas 1642 Ginger Beer Gold
Blends Intelligence Juniper Ginger Beer Silver
Global Brands Franklin & Sons Brewed Ginger Beer Silver


Ginger Ale
Company Product Medal
Double Dutch Double Dutch Ginger Ale Gold
Thomas Henry Thomas Henry Ginger Ale Gold
Poachers Drinks Poachers Ginger Ale with Irish Apple Silver
East Imperial East Imperial Dry Ginger Ale Silver

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