When I was growing up my grandad Frank was my hero. It didn’t matter what he was up to, I wanted to be involved!:
. Painting and decorating? Yep, hand me a paint brush!
. Watching the Snooker? Sure, I’ll pretend I’ve got a clue what’s going on!
. Washing the car? I’ll bring my own sponge!
Yep. In my eyes, the man was a legend and could do no wrong. That was, of course, until he handed me a teaspoon of his daily dose of honey one breakfast time…I can still remember sitting with it in my mouth for what seemed like an eternity, wondering why Winnie the Pooh has been making such a fuss of the yellow glupe that I was struggling to keep down.
Safe to say then that I was not a fan…
One day, whilst sat in the shed, taking a break from clearing out the clutter (seriously, there was nothing this guy couldn’t dupe me in to doing!), he explained that his love of honey came about from his friend ‘Jimmy’ the Bee.
You see Jimmy used to come and visit my Grandad at his shed on a pretty regular basis. And by all accounts was a pretty social little guy, whiling away the hours chatting to my grandad whilst messing about in the lavender and putting the world to rights. They’d play cards together, share cups of tea and exchange stories.
Now. As I’ve grown older, I have to admit that I have started to question some of Grandad Franks credentials. For instance, if this Bee could talk, why was he knocking about in Dewsbury West Yorkshire when he could have been making mega bucks on the stage? Do bees even drink tea? And how did he hold the playing cards? I’m pretty sure that bees don’t even have opposable thumbs?! The mind boggles.
Buzbee’s; creating a buzz…
But recently I received an email with mention of a honey that I might well be able to get onboard with. And no, it wasn’t from Jimmy (the thumbs, remember?), but from a nice chap called Mark instead:
Would you be interested in reviewing our Premium Tonic Waters? I see on your site a bottle of the fine Fever Tree. However, I have a different offering…
Where most are sweetened with Sugar, we have used natural Honey and enhance the flavour whilst maintaining very low calories. The kicker is then we use a Champagne style bubble to provide the perfect aroma.
I hope I’ve captured your attention”.
Tonic with Champagne style bubbles?! Mark, consider my attention caught…
Buzbee’s Beverages, founded by Managing Director Mark Busby (see what he did there?!), have a primary focus; to deliver quality, healthy products, with a conscience. Working with and having a passion for bees, beekeeping and honey, Buzbee’s offer a whole range of honey sweetened products that not only offer a healthy alternative to other mixers on the market, but also aim to support & improve the environment, nature and the world around us.
Buzbee’s explain that their ethical approach is guided by their commitment to sustainability. The team go on to say that ‘bees are essential to a healthy environment and economy, we rely on them to pollinate most of our fruit and vegetables. Bees are under threat and without them so is our food, that is why we encourage the use of this product to maintain the environment in which we live.’
My food under threat if the bee population starts to dwindle?! Now I know it doesn’t specifically state that drinking Gin & Tonics will protect the longevity of the Pizza & Ice cream trade, but it’s not a chance I’m willing to take. I reached for a glass and some ice cubes. I was about to save the world; one Buzbee’s G&T at a time…
Stinging the tastebuds…
I have to admit, going in to this tasting I was a little apprehensive. I am usually one to shy away from using flavoured tonic waters, for fear of losing my gin in amongst bolder or (worse still!) synthetic flavours. But much like finding a £5 note in your coat pocket, forgetfully placed there during the previous winter, I was pleasantly surprised…My worry that the fruit flavours would be fake or unrecognisable proved to be completely unfounded. The tonics are subtle and play a supporting act – it’s called a Gin AND Tonic for a reason. Yes I want a longer drink, with a good quality tonic. But I also still want to taste the gin that I put in my glass. Buzbee’s achieves this goal tenfold.
‘But I thought you didn’t like honey?!’ I hear you exclaim. Well rest assured that this isn’t a gimmick. The honey isn’t there as an overpowering flavour, but instead acts as a natural sweetener; there are no nasties in sight with Buzbee’s. And at only 14 calories per bottle it acts like a light tonic, without those pesky sugars present to mask the gin flavour profile. Great for the tastebuds & the waist line (if you’re watching out for that kind of thing), proving that healthy doesn’t have to be boring.
The bubbles are noticeably lighter in the Buzbee’s range – the mixers don’t come across as being overly carbonated. And that’s no bad thing, as I found that it allowed the gin to not be overpowered. If anything, this seems to emphasise the gin and let the booze do the talking, creating a longer drink without the distractions.
A point to note is that the quinine is also much lighter in flavour than in other premium tonics on the market, making this a great introductory tonic for anyone who claims to dislike gin (but has actually fallen victim to the classic ‘cheap tonic’ pitfall). That being said, the ability for the tonic to happily let the gin play a starring role also offers the potential for this tonic range to become the ‘aficionados mixer of choice’.
The birds and the bees…
I went for all classic flavour combos in my tasting line up. And I have to admit…this stuff really works.
Malfy Con Arancia (Blood Orange Gin) with Passionfruit Buzbee Tonic
The bold orange flavours of the gin work in perfect harmony against a passion fruit supporting act, combining to create a refreshing and topical G&T that still leaves you comfortably reassured that there is definitely alcohol in your glass!
Check out more on the Malfy range here: https://theginshelf.uk/2018/07/09/malfy-gin/
Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin with Rhubarb Buzbee tonic
Fun, fun, fun! As a firm fan of this little rhubarb & ginger number already, the tonic brings an additional rhubarb zesty kick to the G&T, with enough ginger heat still allowed to shine through and warm your pallet. A sweeter rendition, more owing to the choice of gin, but just as delicious.
Warner Edwards Honeybee with Elderflower Buzbee Tonic
As if I could sample a honey sweetened tonic range & not find a pairing with the equally fabulous Honeybee Gin from Warner Edwards! Perfect bed partners in their ethics as well as their complementary flavour profiles. The sweet, warming haze of the honey gin and accompanying delicate spice, work incredibly well against the delicate sweetness of the elderflower tonic. A lemon wedge garnish to add a hit of fresh citrus sharpness makes this my pick of the bunch!
For more information on the Warner Edwards Honeybee Gin, check out my previous blog: https://theginshelf.uk/2017/09/27/warner-edwards-honeybee-gin/
Sir Robin of Locksley with Pink Grapefruit Buzbee Tonic
With the addition of pink grapefruit, elderflower and dandelion, Sir Robin of Locksley is a great contender to pair with either the Pink Grapefruit or Elderflower tonics; though I caution to only add a splash of either. This is a delicate gin that demands respect. But treat it right, with a dash of the Buzbee tonic, and you’re in for a treat…
Find my fuller blog on Sir Robin of Locksley here: https://theginshelf.uk/2018/06/09/sir-robin-of-locksley-gin/
G12 with Mediterranean Buzbee Tonic
With inspiration taken from the Mediterranean, the G12 gin was always going to be a contender for a tonic with a touch of the Med! The balance of the herbaceous greenery and citrus undertones of the gin, married against the sweet & herbal suggestions of the tonic, work brilliantly well together.
You can read more about G12 here: https://theginshelf.uk/2018/10/12/g12-botanically-rich-dry-gin-good-things-come-to-those-who-wait/
Closing; a (nice) sting in the tail…
So there you have it. I thoroughly enjoyed my Buzbee’s experience, and am beginning to find myself on the road to being a convert to flavoured tonics. When they’re done this well, I think many would struggle not to be convinced. That said, my classic sensibilities do make me curious to explore the range further, as I have suspicions that the Buzbee’s Indian & Light tonics and the Ginger Ale would be something very special indeed. Whilst a mixer may not always get the plaudits for its role in a cocktail, even supporting acts can win Oscars you know…
You need only meander your way through the company website to understand that this is a project of passion for all involved. Indeed, they go on to state that ‘creating a smile for all our consumers means everything to Buzbee’s’, always striving to improve & push the boundaries of the flavours in their portfolio without compromising on the quality of the end product or the ethics on which they are based.
Buzbee’s make their commitments clear; ‘to always support the bee population, our environment and offer healthy products to our consumers.’
So this ones for you grandad & Jimmy. I’ll drink to that.
With huge thanks to Mark & the team for my Buzbee’s samples!
Be sure to follow the Buzbee’s team across social media @BuzbeesB & @buzbeesbeverages and via their website: buzbeesbeverages.com
And don’t forget to stop by @theginshelf across all social media platforms for more blogs & event updates. Come and say ‘Hi’ & chat gin!