The Proper Tonic Tale

We are a small, family owned and run tonic business based on the banks of The White Cart Water on the south side of Glasgow.

Our mission is simple: to produce the finest traditional-style tonic water using eco-friendly methods.

We produce ready-to-make tonic bags for you to make yourself at home. This approach gives you greater control over your tonic taste and source of sweetness.

Our tonic bags are shipped in the post and arrive through your letterbox ready-to-make. It takes a little bit of time, typically 24 hours, for your tonic to be ready, but the wait is worth it.

Our History

In the beginning

We started making Indian Tonic Water in 2012 following an eye-opening weekend tour of London's gin bars.

The gin industry was booming with artisan and craft gin companies popping up all over the UK. But the same boom was not apparent in the tonic world.

The main tonic offering back then was Schweppes, sickly sweet with the power to destroy the taste of the new premium gins hitting the market. FeverTree, today's staple, was just starting its meteoric rise to domination in the premium tonic space.

We'd always been huge Gin & Tonic fans and knew that there had to be a crafty and more natural way to deliver the perfect GnT serve.

We did some digging, found recipes for traditional tonics, and began sourcing botanicals and experimenting with flavour combinations. With a bit of work we hit upon our favourite; a quinine rich syrup with a balance of citrus, spice and floral notes. It has served us well and complements most dry gins brilliantly (if we say so ourselves).

Failure to launch

Being a bit entrepreneurial, we started looking into growing our kitchen experiments into a business. Everyone who had tried it loved the taste. “How hard can it be to take it to market?” we thought. Well, a lot harder than we’d expected, it turns out! We quickly hit a few stumbling blocks, mostly related to scaling a business in a sustainable and eco-friendly way.

We could not grow effectively without losing the craft-style authenticity we had worked so hard to attain. It would also require shipping a lot of heavy expensive glassware over the world, massively adding to the costs and the carbon footprint.

With too much on with our other businesses, we reluctantly decided to park our tonic business dreams and get on with the day jobs.

We still continued to make and enjoy our tonic with family and friends.

It's in the bag

Fast-forward a number of years to October 2018 and a family visit showed us how we could distribute our authentic flavoured Proper Tonic in a scalable and sustainable way.

It was painfully simple. The hard part in making tonic is sourcing ingredients and the recipe development. The easy bit is the infusion and the sweetening.

So, we adapted our recipes for distribution in muslin bags, wrote up the instructions and recruited a number of testers to run the process and taste the product. The result was a resounding success so we set about building the brand.

Have it your way

One of the huge benefits of the make-it-yourself-at-home approach is that you decide on how your tonic is sweetened. Some tonics have over seven spoons of sugar in a single serve. With our tonic, you can choose the source and strength of sweetening, giving you control over taste and calories.

The birth of Montgomery "Monty" Donald

When branding our new tonic water business we were looking for the epitome of a victorian gentleman to emphasise the traditional distribution model and classic taste. We soon realised we had the perfect candidate in our 15-year-old Border Terrier, Monty. Not only did he have the perfect name for the job, he also had the aristocratic look - especially when wearing his favourite top hat and moustache. And that was it; Montgomery Donald's Proper Tonic was born.

Thanks for joining us on the journey.