Thursday, August 7, 2008

The craziness of gourmet bottled water prices

I've noticed a growing snobbery among certain circles as to the water they drink. People seem to spend phenomenal amounts of money on name-brand bottled water as a sort of "social one-upmanship" game. Quite ridiculous, in my opinion: and the latter has been reinforced by some recent reading.

It seems that water menus are becoming quite the thing in upscale restaurants and hotels. They suggest on how to tailor your water choice to your meal, and offer a wide range of waters from all over the world - at a heck of a price!

Irritated to excess by this stupidity, I decided to see just how much idiots were prepared to pay for water at such establishments, and how the choice was presented. From a host of choices, I selected the water menu offered by Claridges in London. That's certainly a representative internationally upscale dining destination, I think. Anyway, here's a selection from their water menu. I've added prices in US dollars in italics, at a conversion rate of two US dollars per UK pound, just so you can get a feel for the costs involved.


Belu - spring water from Shropshire, England, £5.50 (75cl)

[US $6.94 per pint: $55.52 per US gallon: $14.66 per liter]

Filtered through layers of ancient rock in the remote hills, it has a crisp and pleasant taste and is totally eco-friendly

Elsenham – artesian water from Hampshire, England, £12 (75cl)

[US $15.14 per pint: $121.12 per US gallon: $32 per liter]

Elsenham artesian spring water is decades old and bottled at source from a deep underground chalk confined aquifer. Due to its depth the water is absolutely pure.

Hildon - spring water from Hampshire, England, £5 (75cl)

[US $6.31 per pint: $50.48 per US gallon: $13.33 per liter]

This hard, medium mineral content spring water has a light, neutral, very drinkable taste.
Still and gently carbonated.

Llanllyr – artesian water from Llanllyr, West Wales, £5 (75cl)

[US $6.31 per pint: $50.48 per US gallon: $13.33 per liter]

Llanllyr is a very soft water which comes from sources beneath certified organic fields in West Wales, sources were first used more than 800 years ago and have been in the same family's hands since 1720.

Tau – spring water from the Cambrian Mountains, Wales, £5 (75cl)

[US $6.31 per pint: $50.48 per US gallon: $13.33 per liter]

Tau means silent in Welsh and this is a pleasant, easy to drink spring water from the Welsh mountains, with a low mineral content and an almost neutral pH balance.

Speyside Glenlivet – spring water from Ballindalloch, Scotland, £5.50 (75cl)

[US $6.94 per pint: $55.52 per US gallon: $14.66 per liter]

Good water makes good whisky and from the home of whisky comes Speyside Glenlivet, alkaline spring water from Ballindalloch, Scotland.


Badoit - spring water from St. Galmier, France, £6.50 (75cl)

[US $8.20 per pint: $65.60 per US gallon: $17.33 per liter]

Badoit has a substantial amount of minerals but a very light taste. It is sparkling water for people who never choose sparkling, as it has small and very fine bubbles. The high level of bicarbonate is beneficial for digestion.

Wattwiller – spring water from Wattwiller, France, £8 (50cl)

[US $15.14 per pint: $121.12 per US gallon: $32 per liter]

Wattwiller's source was discovered by the Romans and is today surrounded by a large swathe of protected woodland. It has a high mineral content and offers a pleasant hint of sweetness to the palate making it ideal for drinking with fine foods.

Fiuggi - spring water from Fiuggi, Italy, £9 (1 litre)

[US $8.52 per pint: $68.16 per US gallon: $18 per liter]

In 1554 Michelangelo spoke about the curative effects of Fiuggi spring water. It has a low mineral content, fairly significant carbonation, an almost neutral pH factor and is said to be very popular at the Vatican.

Panna - spring water from Villa Parma, Italy, £6 (75cl)

[US $7.57 per pint: $60.56 per US gallon: $16 per liter]

Hard and slightly alkaline, this still water has been recognised for centuries for its quality and distinctive taste by nobles and locals from the Tuscan Apennines.

San Pellegrino – spring water from San Pellegrino Terme, Italy, £5.25 (75cl)

[US $6.62 per pint: $52.96 per US gallon: $14 per liter]

This water's greatest asset is its very low nitrate level, indicating an unspoiled source and its high mineral content offers a significant source of sulfates and calcium. It has a pleasant light sparkle, which compliments light mediterranean cooking.

Solé – spring water from Nuvolento, Italy, £5 (75cl)

[US $6.31 per pint: $50.48 per US gallon: $13.33 per liter]

Bottled at its Lombard source near the Alps, this water has an interesting combination of high bicarbonate and low sodium.

Glaciana – glacier water from Osa, Norway, £9 (50cl)

[US $17.03 per pint: $136.24 per US gallon: $36 per liter]

Glaciana is glacier spring water from the small village of Osa, at the inland end of the Hardanger Fjord in western Norway. It is remarkably pure with exceptionally low mineral content, perhaps the lowest found in any bottled water in the world.

Iskilde - artesian spring water from the Mossø Conservation area in Denmark £9 (1 litre)

[US $8.52 per pint: $68.16 per US gallon: $18 per liter]

Iskilde means 'cold spring' in Danish and was discovered in 2001 in the Mossø conservation area. The exact age of the water isn't known but it is believed that it could date back as far as the last ice age.

OGO – spring water from Tilburg, Netherlands, £6 (33cl)

[US $17.21 per pint: $137.68 per US gallon: $36.37 per liter]

OGO spring water from the Netherlands contains no less than 35 times more oxygen than regular water does and has a refreshing and revitalising effect on exhaustion especially after a long flight.

Voss – artesian water from Iveland, Norway, £9 (80cl)

[US $10.65 per pint: $85.20 per US gallon: $22.50 per liter]

It comes from the country's south coast – specifically, the remote, thinly populated Iveland area, northeast of Kristiansand. Rock and ice have protected the artesian source for hundreds of years.


Finé – artesian water from Shuzenji, Japan, £15 (72cl)

[US $19.72 per pint: $157.76 per US gallon: $41.67 per liter]

Finé is artesian water from Japan. Its bottle is modelled on a traditional sake one and it is a perfect companion to sushi, sashimi and caviar. Finé has low mineral content and a slightly sweet taste due to its pH balance and an amount of silica.

Fiji – artesian water from Yaqara Valley, Fiji, £6.50 (1 litre)

[US $6.15 per pint: $49.20 per US gallon: $13.00 per liter]

The remoteness of the island ensures that this exquisite still artesian mineral water is uncontaminated by artificial substances. It has a low mineral content, is high in silica, slightly sweet with an overall smooth sensation on the palate.

Waiwera – spring water from Waiwera Resort, New Zealand, £9 (1 litre)

[US $8.52 per pint: $68.16 per US gallon: $18 per liter]

Waiwera Mineral Water was first bottled and sold in the 1870's, when people travelled many miles to take the waters' at Waiwera Thermal Resort in New Zealand.

Antipodes – artesian water from Otakiri, Whakatane, New Zealand, £9 (1 litre)

[US $8.52 per pint: $68.16 per US gallon: $18 per liter]

New Zealand's Rotomo Hills are totally free of industry and very nearly of people, so serve as a pristine source for Antipodes soft, low mineral content, artesian water with a neutral taste.

420 Volcanic - spring water from Tai Tapu, New Zealand, £21 (42cl)

[US $47.32 per pint: $378.56 per US gallon: $100 per liter]

Sourced from a spring, the Tai Tapu, at the bottom of an extinct volcano 420 Volcanic bubbles to the surface through 200 metres of age old volcanic rock.

Cloud Juice – rainwater from King Island, Australia, £9 (75cl)

[US $11.36 per pint: $90.88 per US gallon: $24 per liter]

Cloud Juice is rainwater, bottled at one of the most remote places in the world, King Island, Tasmania. With the Cape Grim Weather station nearby, King Island enjoys the cleanest air in the world and the cleanest rainwater.

Berg – iceberg water from Newfoundland, Canada, £15 (50cl)

[US $28.39 per pint: $227.12 per US gallon: $60 per liter]

Berg from Newfoundland is pure, fresh iceberg water from one of the cleanest and unspoiled regions of the world. Iceberg water is unique. This water's journey started over 15,000 year's ago in the ancient glaciers of western Greenland. Isolation has made its source totally inaccessible to man. Only when a large piece of ice breaks into the sea, can it be harvested'.

Lauquen – artesian water from San Carlos de Barilouche, Argentina, £9 (75cl)

[US $11.36 per pint: $90.88 per US gallon: $24 per liter]

Lauquen spring water begins as ice and rain in the remote Andes and travels upwards under its own pressure, emerging in a hollow in San Carlos Barilouche, Patagonia.

10 Thousand BC – glacier water from Hat Mountain Glacier, British Columbia, £15 (75cl)

[US $18.93 per pint: $151.44 per US gallon: $40 per liter]

Locked in an icy vault for over 10,000 years, 10 Thousand BC water comes from melted glacier ice, sourced in the pristine Coastal Glacier Range in British Columbia, Canada.

Mahalo Deep Sea Water – deep sea water, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, £20 (71cl)

[US $26.66 per pint: $213.28 per US gallon: $56.34 per liter]

From Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, this rare deep sea water, was orignally a freshwater iceberg which melted thousands of year ago and, being of different temperature and salinity to the sea water around it, sank to become a lake at the bottom of the ocean floor. The water has been collected through a 3000ft pipeline off the shores of Hawaii.

Just Born Spring Drops – spring water from Nilgris Mountains, India, £21 (1 litre)

[US $9.94 per pint: $79.52 per US gallon: $42 per liter]

Bottled at source to maintain its purity and freshness, Just Born Spring Drops is from the Nilgris Mountains in India. It is naturally filtered through the mountain layers and is suitable for all ages, particularly people with sensitive digestions, new born babies, children, pregnant ladies and the elderly.

Well, there you have it. People who'll willingly pay such prices for common old H2O are, in my not so humble opinion, stark staring bonkers! I can fill the 25-gallon gas tank of my pickup for a whole lot less than some of these prices!

I'm going to make a cup of tea, I think - using good ol' tap water!




Andrew C said...

Penn and Teller did an episode of Bullshit! on this topic. The video is very entertaining.

Unknown said...

Description of Mahalo Deep Sea Water is bullshit indeed. This water is really desalinated deep sea water.

Christina RN LMT said...

I get horrified looks every day when people at work see me drinking tap water.

Anonymous said...

50 dollars a gallon for water and they complain about four dollars a gallon for gas. Morons

Anonymous said...

How many people in the world would step over their own mother for clean water of any origin? You wonder why everyone hates affluent westerners with (far, far) more money than brains.

Unknown said...

Voss tastes ok:) And the bottles are so cool!