A TOP South African brand has launched in the UK. Reporter Alice Kavanagh went along to the launch party in York to try out the drinks.

With a whopping 780 million units sold worldwide, Fitch & Leedes (F&L) is already the top selling tonic in South Africa and hopes to corner the UK market this summer – offering a premium alternative to other popular mixers.

Describing itself as ‘bespoke mixers for the discerning individual’, the brand was inspired by two intrepid pioneers of the 16th Century, who left English shores to discover new and exotic flavours from around the world before bringing their findings back home.


The launch took place on May 17 at the Biltmore, in partnership with local spirits company Ellers Farm Distillery (based in Stamford Bridge), and saw revellers in high spirits with a multitude of different tonics on offer to those looking to upgrade their usual drink offering.

Paul Durham, who is heading up the UK distribution, said: “The stock actually arrived around Christmas, but we decided to hold off until now as Fitch and Leedes is positioned to be the perfect summer drink.

York Press: Fitch & LeedesFitch & Leedes (Image: Newsquest)

“We’re hosting a number of launches across the UK but decided to have the first here in York.”

My first tipple of the night was the arguably the brand’s most unique offering (and a favourite of the event host, Paul) – a bright blue tonic, flavoured with blueberry and hints of cardamon, that paired perfectly with the Ellers Farm gin. It was fruity and sweet but still with a tonic flavour.

I also tasted the pink tonic, which balanced rose and cucumber to create a drink perfect for a girlie summer day out, and the grapefruit tonic, which complimented the gin perfectly and would be spot on for any grapefruit lover.

As a fan of a classic vodka cranberry, I found myself partial to the ‘cheeky cranberry' – a ‘true to fruit’ cranberry flavour, infused with chilli, that tasted closer to the actual fruit than the sweet juice typically found at bars.

York Press: Fitch & LeedesFitch & Leedes (Image: Newsquest)

It also came with the added surprise of being a mild energy drink, a welcome alternative to a vodka Red Bull for those seeking a ‘pick me up’ whilst out drinking.

All the tonics felt like high end options and were very drinkable, leaving behind very little aftertaste and complimenting the spirit perfectly without overpowering it.

The cans are also unique – being the only brand in the world to offer on the spot mixology options, with a QR code taking revellers to a site where they’re able to browse recipes and get inspiration for the drink they want to create.

F&L also stocks a range of alcohol free ‘classic’ cans – which can be used both as mixers and drunk alone in their own right. These include passionade (passion fruit and lemon), ginger beer, lime twist, and a rock shandy, with lemon and bitters.

Fitch and Leedes is set to launch in bars and shops across the UK soon but for those wanting a piece of the action early, cases are available on their website and through Amazon.