I do enjoy drinking fizzy drinks but try and limit my intake of them where possible and stick to water or sugar free cordials. When I do indulge in fizzy drinks some of my favorite are the more traditional ones and when I spotted the range of Fentimans traditional drinks in Tesco I decided to treat myself to a couple. The first one that caught my eye was the traditional Victorian Lemonade especially as I saw that it contains ginger which I also love the taste off.
The Fentimans range of traditional soft drinks including this Victorian Lemonade come in 275ml bottles and currently cost £1.19 each in Tesco. I thought that this was reasonable value for money as it makes them no more expensive than purchasing an individual bottle of a modern soft drink.
The lemonade comes in a chunky little clear glass bottle with a silver screw top cap. The labels on the bottle are also in a traditional style and are yellow and blue in colour, you will also see the Fentimans logo of a dog on the label which I was a little intrigued by but on the back label it states the meaning of the logo. The dog is a picture of ''Fearless' , Thomas Fentiman's prize Alsatian and our company logo, is a testament to the fact that you can't teach an old dog new tricks'. I thought that this was a great little addition to the product information and it is nice to see something a little different and unique about a product. It also states on the label that the Fentiman family have been brewing botanical beverages for almost 100 years which made me wonder why I had not spotted these drinks before now.
The lemonade is cloudy and you do you need to make sure that you tip the bottle up before drinking as some of the sediment of the ingredients does tend to settle in the bottom of the bottle. Also anyone who does not drink alcohol may want to take note that this drink may contain some alcohol due to the fermenting process it goes through when making but. But for anyone else you will not be getting drunk easily on this as it contains less than 0.5% alcohol and to be honest until I spotted this information on the label I would not have realized as you certainly cannot taste any alcohol.
I chilled my bottle of the lemonade in the fridge before drinking and served it in a tall glass over ice as I think this is the most refreshing way to enjoy this drink. The lemonade is carbonated so has a lovely fizz which you can hear as you unscrew the bottle. As soon as you pour the lemonade out of the bottle you can smell the lovely zesty lemon scent which really made my mouth water. The taste of the lemonade is just how it smells, fruity, zingy and so refreshing. You can get a very slight taste of the ginger coming through but I think this just helps to compliment the lemon flavor. The bubbles in the lemonade are very light and do not make the drink seem in anyway gassy so you don't get that horrible bloated feeling that you get with some fizzy drinks.
Overall I think this is the best traditional lemonade I have ever tried as you can really tasty the tangy lemons and it is not overly sweetened it actually tastes very natural. Some people may find this a little on the pricy side but for me it is totally worth every penny as it is a gorgeous, refreshing drink perfect for the summer! Just remember to do you bit for the environment and pop the bottle in a bottle glass recycling bin after use.
Fentimans Victorian Lemonade
Description: Victorian Style lemonade / Fermented botanical lemon drink with ginger and herbal extracts.
I had never heard or or tried Fentimans drinks until I moved to Newcastle 5 years ago. Mr Siamese is a proud Geordie and as such, feels obliged to introduce me to what he believes are the best things to come from the area. While I must confess that I may never find the enthusiasm for football (or Cheryl Cole!) that he possesses, I do agree that these drinks are something special.
The bottle is quite traditional looking and made from clear glass with a screw off metal lid. The 275ml glass bottle has a picture of the Fentimans dog logo on the neck and a light yellow label.
The downside of this drink is the cost unfortunately with a bottle retailing for around £1.70. It is delicious though and quite different from most other soft drinks on the shelves.
It is important to shake this drink well before you open it to allow all the ingredients to mix properly. It should also be served chilled. As soon as you open it, you will notice the scent of ginger which is really fresh smelling and mouth watering.
The juice itself is delicious, it has a lemon and a half in every bottle and you can really taste it, it doesn't have the synthetic taste that some lemonades have but the proper sharpness that only fresh fruit can deliver. There is a fab burst of ginger in each mouthful too which is slightly hot and complements the lemon perfectly.
Ingredients are as follows;
Lemon Juice Concentrate (12.7%)
Pear Juice concentrate
Cream of Tartar
Natural flavours: Lemon / Speedwell / Juniper extracts
This drink is expensive which is a shame because it is really refreshing and in my opinion, a little bit special. It is sweet but slightly tart and the hot aftertaste from the ginger is unusually good. If you see this drink for sale then you should definitely try it (and the others in the range too!) and see what you think.
4 Dooyoo stars, simply because of the price.
Who is to argue what Victorian lemonade actually tastes like? Is there anyone out there that has survived the Victorian period that can tell me? Where is Mrs Beetson when you need her?!
At first sight, Fentiman's Traditional Victorian Lemonade looks like an inspiring choice for an alternative cool drink perfect for summer days. It looks interesting because in the cooler store in my local Co Op supermarket, you can see bits floating around at the bottom and clear as crystal or a summer's day, depending on how you see it, it looks like a bottle that definitely needs shaking before it comes alive. It was also a runner up in BBC's Good Food Awards. So you can imagine I was poised to experience something out of the ordinary. Please note that this is a lengthy review.
* Background and Other Products *
Fentimans have been making (or brewing it according to them) botanical beverages for almost 100 years, established in 1905 no less. Pass the Bach Remedy then! Juniper and something called "Speedwell," have been added, extracts of which I am led to believe could well be classed as herbals.
Fentimans make other products too, including Dandelion & Burdock, Ginger Beer, Curiosity Cola, Shandy Beer, Seville Orange Jigger and this product. Although their website is actually beautifully presented there is a guest book which allows people to add their own opinions about Fentimans products.
* Packaging, Label and Claim *
The bottle has a glorious old charm to it, as the bottle is suitably conservative given the product's traditional preparation as well as the fact that you can literally hold it within the palm of your hand. I do like the glass bottle a lot as it reminds me of old style bottles of beer and the like, even if it is clear glass that has been used and not darkened glass.
The label on the neck of the 275ml glass bottle shows a wolf like dog (it is Fentimans label) and underneath this, the word "Fentimans" in capital letters, yellow against a blue background. Travel further down to the main label of the bottle and you will find yourself looking at a lemon drink that has no less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. It's up to you to decide whether you would ultimately give this drink to a child then, but I wouldn't with the alcohol content.
It is supposed to be a "fermented botanical lemon drink with ginger and herbal extracts," or so the small print says and then in even smaller letters above the product claim, it states the alcohol. You can imagine the fun and games kids would have if they got their mitts on this, wouldn't you? Around the middle of the rim of the bottle, the user will be able to see baked on letters similar to bottles of old beer, with the words, "Botanically Brewed" - as if to prove a process has actually taken place.
The bottle has a screw down lid catch similar to beer bottles, but you don't actually need a ring pull mechanism lever to open it. A quick turn with the fingers and admittedly that it may be a bit sore; you can actually prise the lid off the bottle. Top marks for ingenuity there -you don't actually need to bring a bottle opener with you or buy one if you see this product in your local supermarket.
The trouble is, I don't know quite what to make of this product.
For years I was used to my mum and my gran before her, making up glass bottles of home made lemonade; crushed fresh lemons whizzed up in a blender and plenty of sugar and water conjuring up something that looked a little less like clear artificial mass produced lemonade and more to the sight of Robinson's Barley Water. This liquid looks similar but it is only within the look that you could be mistaking it for true home made lemonade.
* The Taste *
I'd advise to chill the drink for a day at least in the fridge to get the fresh pungent promise of lemon, (because I first tried this product lukewarm and immediately spat it out - it did not impress at all) On first tasting and once the lid has been screwed off, I can smell lemon and...well that's about it. Having grown up in a household where ginger is continually used in tea and home made marmalades and chutneys I can't detect ginger, at least not in the aroma section of this product.
So I am prepared to take a step into this unknown product and as I swig from the bottle like a happy old drunk, I suddenly find myself lip smacking because this is really sour. Even when it's chilled! Oh and here's the carbonated water as it swirls around my mouth but there's hardly any sugar, a fact made more obvious that by the time I'm finished this bottle there's nothing clinging to my teeth. As for the ginger I can feel my throat warming up but the lemon is really quite outstandingly horrible!!
How so? Well traditional lemonade for my pallet has to have enough lemon to satisfy me. I don't mean Fairy Liquid moments where I'm constantly battling with chemically reared lemon additives and that horrible limey after taste. No, on the contrary I love lemons to pass over my tongue, backwards and forwards like an egg in a drawer, pushing out its tartness to all corners of my mouth; cracking up and exploding like an explosion of citrus fireworks going off. For me, that's the truth of a real lemon. Here Fentimans actually put one and half lemons in each 275ml bottle. What a shame then that I can't actually detect this.
The thought of fresh lemons is daunted by the over bearing addition of ginger in its taste. You realise this by the fact that one mouthful can produce such startling effects; allow for example, the juice to swirl around your teeth, tongue and gums without swallowing and you will see what I mean. There's the lemon but its cut short by cutting sharp overtones of ginger.
As for the alcohol content? Well I can taste this and don't blame me if I have a sensitive pallet but it suddenly begins to taste like an alco-pop; I can taste the undertone of dulling alcohol. If the product didn't have so much ginger in it, I'd swear I was drinking lemon flavoured Hooch!
* Price *
I paid £1-45 for this bottle of traditional lemon codswallop.
And there you have it. If you have a pallet for lots of ginger and sour lemons then this could well be the perfect drink for you, but I doubt it will refresh the pallets of many who are sweating it out if next Summer is anything to go by. By all means give it a go, 9 out of 10 cats prefer it, but there are other ways to be cooled down and this cat 'aint impressed. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2008
90 Grey Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
The Famous Five were in a terrible fix. Those dirty rotten working class kids had stolen their ginger beer and crab paste sandwiches. Bother, bother bother said Dick how are we going to have a wizard adventure now. Mr Cooper the light house keeper will not let us on Kirran Island without the mandatory payment of a ginger beer bottle each. What about we go to that new flanged place called Tescos said Julian being very sensible as he was the oldest and wisest. I am sure we can find some delectable refreshment to replace Aunt Fanny's wonderful ginger beer. So the five strolled to Tescos and had to leave Timmy behind as he was not a trained guide dog and found the soft drinks cabinet. Golly gosh said George look at this lovely scrumptious sounding lemonade Fentimann's' Traditional Victorian Lemonade. MMMM lashings and lashings of lemonade but it's not a shilling tuppence. It's £1.09 for a 275ml bottle in new money wailed Anne. Don't be such a baby said Dick as he naughtily kicked his sister.. Aunt Fanny gave us some money from our reward for finding the missing heiress in the castle ruins so we have more than enough for a splendid feast.
The four paid for their purchases and skipped merrily on their way. They unpacked their picnic by a glorious stream , which would be ideal for paddling in llater and sat down to drink their lovely lemonade. It's a rather splendid bottle' isn't it said Anne. Oh look the dog on the bottle neck label looks just like Timmy she squealed. Julian pass me your Swiss Army Knife Uncle Quintin gave you for Christmas, so we can open this delightful looking stuff! . The four took a deep sniff at the pale greeny yellow cloudy liquid. Lemons declared George but maybe not as zesty and natural smelling as some of the other lemonades we have had before. Is that ginger I can smell exclaimed Dick Hurrah for that. I will not miss out on my ginger fix after all he said very excitedly. Well it is a traditionally brewed lemonade made with sugar, carbonated water 12% lemon concentrates rather than freshly squeezed lemons, ginger pear juice for some reason juniper and some yucky stuff called glucose syrup! said Julian examine the label. I'm sure Aunt Fanny just makes hers with lemons, water and sugar
The children poured the contents of one of the bottles into Timmy's bowl so he would not feel left out as he is almost human after all, then sat back to enjoy their luscious drink. Don't you think lemon and ginger is the best combination in the world ever, even better than strawberries and cream wondered George as she sipped her cold drink. It was a lovely gently fizzing drink not too gassy like the American Coca Cola her American School friend Zelda had in her tuck box. At first the lemon was very sharp and tangy. It tasted like the Jiff that her mother put on pancakes but then the ginger taste kicked in counterbalancing the sourness of the lemon. It's heavenly declared Anne. It tastes so refreshing and is a scrumptious nix of sharp lemon and our wonderful ginger beer. This is great for us heroic children but I bet Uncle Quintin and Aunt Fanny would love this. It's a real grown up drink. Perhaps they might stock it in the Kirran Arms for Pott's the chauffeur if he does not want half a shandy!. I can't wait to try their Dandelion and burdock and Curiosity Cola next said Julian . Altogether now three cheers for Fentimann's botanically;y brewed Traditional Victorian lemonade. Hip Hip Hooray 9woof woof added Timmy in agreement)
What do you think of when you think about lemonade? Call me a romantic, but lemonade always makes me think of long, warm summer days, the dreaming spires of Oxford, blue skies, punting, and picnics on a rug with a real wicker basket. Well, I think all that sounds just wonderful and I've been searching for quite some time to find a lemonade worthy of an Oxford picnic, but they just haven't been coming up to scratch. 20p-a-litre own brand lemonade would quite spoil the cucumber sandwiches, don't you think? Anyway, to cut a long story short - here it is. I present Fentimans Victorian Lemonade as THE definitive picnic lemonade.
Let's start at the beginning. Fentimans are a drinks company which began in 1900 when Thomas Fentiman, a tradesman, was given a recipe for "botanically brewed" ginger beer as security for a loan. When the loan was not repaid, in 1905 Thomas Fentiman was able to begin producing ginger beer using the unusual recipe he had obtained. To this day the company makes soft drinks using nearly the same traditional recipes and methods that they used more than 100 years ago.
Botanical brewing is grinding, steaming and fermenting various pungent roots (in Victorian Lemonade they're ginger roots), which give all Fentimans drinks their distinctive natural taste. The only other ingredients used in this method are herbs, natural flavouring, sugar, brewer's yeast and water. Fentimans say that the process allows the natural flavours of the plants to infuse into the liquid, making the drinks especially flavoursome and eliminating the need for artificial flavours and sweeteners. The process takes 10 days and the sediment is left in which adds to the flavour and creates a cloudy drink when shaken up.
Victorian Lemonade comes in a truly wonderful chunky glass bottle shaped somewhat like a beer bottle. It's round and clear so you can see the colour of the liquid and see the sediment mixing in when it's shaken, and on the front is a round label with the name and details of the drink. The metal cap is designed like a beer cap, but cunningly twists off like a screw-cap. Ingenious for when someone's forgotten the bottle-opener.
When you open the bottle (shake it up first!) the first scent is lemon. Real, sharp and tangy lemon, not sweet like some artificial lemonades. Fentimans say they use the juice of one and a half lemons in each bottle - and you can tell! Underneath the freshness of the lemon is a distinctive warm spicy note of ginger, the other ingredient upon which Victorian Lemonade is based. So, the first sip. As it's genuine cloudy lemonade, it's not smooth in the mouth; instead you can feel small bits of the sediment. It tastes straightaway of the lemon, which is actually quite sharp rather than sweet, so if you like your drinks very sugary this might not appeal. However I liked the tartness of it, and after the sharpness you can taste spicy ginger which balances the dry, sharp lemon with a bit of warmth and spice. Yum. I also liked the fact that it's only LIGHTLY carbonated - I really don't get on with drinks that are pumped so full of gas that you can't actually taste the drink. This one's just got a little bit of gas in, enough to make it sparkle but not enough that the bubbles get shoved up your nose!
So that's the taste of it, which is definitely the most important factor, but there's some more info you might want to know. Victorian Lemonade comes in 275ml bottles, priced between £1 and £1.50, which won't break the bank but certainly is a bit much for you to have the drink regularly. It's also fairly hard to find - the two places I have seen it are at Past Times and Sainsbury's, but they don't always stock it so I'd have a look around. Should you find yourself desperate, go on www.realfooddirect.co.uk and order yourself some.
Honestly, I couldn't recommend this stuff highly enough. It's a bit expensive to have regularly, but I certainly enjoy a bottle every now and again as a treat. In terms of taste and experience, though, it's just head and shoulders above the rest - it looks delicious, it tastes delicious, it actually contains lemon juice, it's lightly sparkling and it comes in a truly fabulous glass bottle that goes perfectly with cucumber sandwiches and jam tarts. Don't plan any picnics in Oxford without it.