The Gin Bandits
Montgomery Donald's Proper Tonic
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
The views in this review are our own opinions and have not been influenced by anyone at Montgomery Donald's Proper Tonic.
Last week we got the opportunity to review a “tonic in a bag” kit after being sent a sample from Nick at Glasgow based, Montgomery Donald’s Proper Tonic. Gin and Tonic is a big hobby for Mrs Bandit and I, but this was something our youngest daughter Marlie was allowed to get involved in and something she really enjoyed (Especially getting to lick the pan clean after the making of the sugar syrup!).
We received a tidy package which contained a full set of instructions giving you day-by-day steps to follow. We hadn’t seen anything like this before, or even ventured into the world of tonic syrup, so it was completely new to us and we were looking forward to experimenting. The main ingredients were packed into a small muslin or cheesecloth which gave off a beautiful aroma as soon as the package was opened.
This bag is then submerged into water and shaken every day which changed the water’s appearance from an initial yellow hew, to a rich rusty orange. On Day 4, we created the syrup, and on the advice of the instructions we opted to use golden caster sugar with water which was the favourite part of the adventure for our youngest daughter Marlie. We then removed the Proper Tonic bag from the water and mixed in the sugar syrup. Once it had cooled, we served 25ml of the syrup with some Aviation Gin and some sparkling water. Upon first taste we found that it needed more sweetness for our liking, and as this is a create-your-own, that’s exactly what we did and added some more syrup. This tonic really surprised us as it has lovely herbal flavours, but also that classic tonic flavour from the cinchona bark. To give yourself the best G&T we suggest pairing your syrup with a well carbonated sparkling water, our initial taster was a bit flat due to the sparkling water choice. The whole process took around 72 hours in total which was longer than expected, but having to wait actually added to the excitement.
Ta Da - The finished product
We also caught up with Nick himself and asked him a few questions about Montgomery Donald’s Proper Tonic.
What made you get into the wonderful world of tonic?
My eyes were opened to the world of possibility that Proper Tonic can offer following a night out in Bermondsey in 2012. Until I had had a gin and tonic in The Bermondsey I had no clue that really tasty tonic was a possibility. I thought the only options were Schweppes and the like.
I could see that a lot of people were taking care of the gin but no one seemed to be looking after the tonic. I looked into developing a tonic business but it wasn't scalable without compromising the authenticity of the traditional recipe which we loved. The costs of packing and shipping small batches of bottled tonic syrup were also prohibitive. I put my tonic business dreams on hold in 2014.
What sparked the idea up again after the initial attempt?
My dreams were reawakened in October last year following a visit from my sister. She was a fan of the tonic but having none ready for her to take away I put the raw ingredients in a bag and gave her a set of instructions. She was able to easily make it up at home and so the idea of the dry Proper Tonic kits were born.
How did you come up with your final ingredient choice - are they from flavours that you prefer?
Following my awakening to the world of tonic, I looked around for recipes online and started experimenting to find the perfect flavour profile for us and our friends who are mostly fans of the old school dry gins.
The original recipes used fresh ingredients so when designing the kits we needed to re-tune the recipe to use dried ingredients which was a lot of fun. The end result was gratifyingly superior to the fresh.
So, you must drink a lot of Gin and Tonic, what is currently your favourite pairing with Proper Tonic?
My favourite pairing is The Isle of Harris Gin. It's been my number 1 for a while. It also pairs very well with Makar Original Dry Gin from the Glasgow Distillery (revealing my Scottish roots).
Who's the little star on the label, is this the legendary Montgomery Donald?
Yes indeed. We were looking around for a distinct brand for the business and found Monty our 15 year old Border Terrier was the epitome of the Victorian gentleman and an ideal mascot, and so Montgomery Donald's was born.
We added a bit more of the sugar syrup to our finished product to suit our taste, could this be something you would look at in the future, i.e. different flavours and styles of tonic?
One of the huge benefits of our kits is the level of control our customers have over aspects of the tonic, particularly the level and source of the sweetness. I typically use golden caster to make my syrup but customers are free to use natural sugar alternatives like honey, agave or artificial sweeteners like Xylitol.
We are currently experimenting with other recipes and hope to have other kits in our shop soon. We are also discussing creating bespoke tonics for cocktail bars and flavour matched tonics for distillers to really create that perfect serve.
Lastly where can our readers buy a package of Proper Tonic?
We have established an online Tonic Shoppe at www.montgomerydonalds.co.uk* we are also looking for resellers for the tonic if any of your followers are interested.
*Montgomery Donald's Proper Tonic have given our followers 10% off any purchases from their store using the above link.