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Cushiedoos tonic launches without quinine

Cushiedoos tonic has launched, made with mountain water and Scottish heather, Scottish silver birch, yellow gentian, wormwood and no tonic water.

Andrew Ligertwood, founder of Drink Better Ltd and the creator of Cushiedoos tonic, explained that while Scotland is on the world stage when it comes to so much of its national produce, there was a glaring absence of any premium tonic made with Scottish ingredients. 

“Scotland has a reputation for excellence when it comes to our amazing natural larder,” he said. “Provenance, sustainable sourcing and supporting local are very high up the value index when it comes to marketing and promotion and buyer motivation. It struck me, as a I was enjoying a gin and tonic – the gin was made in Scotland but the tonic wasn’t – that there was a gap for a premium tonic water made using Scottish ingredients and research then showed me that there was a demand for it.”

Andrew founded Drink Better Ltd in 2016 – the business premise in the name – and, since launching Cushiedoos in April 2018, has established circa 30 on and off-trade accounts including Drinkmonger, Balgove Larder, The Sheraton One Square and 56 North.

The name Cushiedoos originates from the Scottish word for wood pigeon, whose call Andrew overheard when sipping said G&T at home the moment the idea came into his head.

The water is drawn from ancient artesian springs, high in the Cairngorms National Park. Cushiedoos suggests that its chemical make-up lends itself perfectly as a mixer for gin or vodka. Why? Because it has smaller molecules which create a larger surface area for other flavours to interact with.

The Scottish heather and Scottish silver birch are both wild-foraged in the Scottish Highlands and the yellow gentian and wormwood are being cultivated at the Secret Herb Garden, a specialist herb nursery near Edinburgh. For now, Drink Better Ltd imports these botanicals from Europe but Andrew hopes to harvest the first plants within the next year.

He adds: “Everything we use in Cushiedoos is natural: there’s nothing synthetic, nothing has been tampered with.  The botanicals provide the balance between bitterness and freshness, the lack of quinine and lower levels of citric acid means it has an extraordinary smoothness and clean aftertaste.  My aspiration is to have as minimal a carbon footprint as possible, by using Scottish ingredients wherever possible and by managing our entire production process within Scotland. At the moment I have to buy in yellow gentian and wormwood but as soon as the plants being grown by the expert team at the Secret Herb Garden reach maturity they will be put straight into use.”

The only other ingredients that go into Cushiedoos are citric acid and British beet sugar – the low sugar means it’s only 24kcal per 100ml, which is 24 per cent less sugar than some other tonic waters.

Cushiedoos is sold in packs of 24 at £1.20 RRP per 200ml SKU – available to the on-trade via Inverarity Morton, JW Filshill, Royal Mile Whiskies, Huffman’s, Luvians and Dunns Food & Drink.

27 July 2018 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, news editor