Stupidity in a Bottle: A Review of Singapore’s Most Expensive Mineral Waters
Thank you, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, for making plain water more accessible in parks and other public places.

Thank you not because I care about diabetes, but because there is a special circle in hell for the people who sell normal H2O as ‘natural luxury artesian water’ at a 1000% markup. They deserve to be waterboarded with Evian for claiming exclusivity, purity and chastity just because their water came from a particularly ulu hole in the earth.

The entire industry gets me riled up because water should contain no more than 5mg of bullshit/100ml, but every luxury water brand adds so much pretense and snobbery to their water that I get kidney stones just by reading the label.

If you don’t want to read a 2000-word manifesto against bottled water, turn away now. If you’re still here, join me on a review of Singapore’s most ridiculous bottled waters.

All quotes taken from their marketing materials.

(1) Speyside Glenlivet: ‘Ours is not an everyday water’

Speyside Glenlivet is not related to Glenlivet whisky. Although both beverages come from the UK crown parish of Glenlivet, that’s as far as the resemblance goes.

Glenlivet whisky is fun one. Speyside is the boring, prudish sibling who married a rich tycoon and now puts on insufferable airs it learned from watching Downton Abbey.

Just read the descriptions. I doubt if Marie Antoinette was half as bitchy and condescending at the height of the French Bourbon dynasty. Speyside wants you to know that it’s ‘not an everyday water’ and is served ‘only in select establishments’ alongside Michelin-star cuisine.

In fact, this water has a superiority complex so strong that it talks down to would-be drinkers. Don’t you dare chug it because Speyside is a ‘fine product’ and ‘it ‘deserves to be treated with respect’, especially by the likes of a filthy peasant like you.

For the benefit of us lowly commoners who don’t know how to drink water properly, Speyside even instructs us on the ‘correct’ way: 12 – 15 degrees, without fruit or ice because ‘additional flavours will contaminate its purity.’

‘You’ll find Glenlivet in the finest establishments the world over,’ we are told. Available for $2.95/bottle on Redmart. Don’t forget to stick out your pinky.

Taste: Watery, but with strong notes of condescension, elitism, and insecurity.

(2) Suisosui Hydrogen Water: ‘It can be consumed orally or applied to the face or body’

Everything the west does, Japan can do better. This applies for whisky, DSLR cameras, and as I now learn – stupidly overpriced waters with dubious health benefits.

Enter ‘Suisosui Hydrogen water soft drink’, a $7.90 packet of ‘very special’ water from Hita City that has been infused with hydrogen. Why hydrogen, I hear you ask. Apparently, Hydrogen is an antioxidant which ‘is best for health, beauty and even slimming’. According to the Hydrogen water literature, Hydrogen water will make your skin glow like Beyonce, speed muscle recovery after the gym, and even halt the advance of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

It is a shame that my grandmother couldn’t get some in time. Although I have a feeling that she would prefer senility to the madness of $7.90 water.

However, price and supposed health benefits are just the tip of this crazy iceberg. If you care to read the translated ‘directions’ for use, you will find the proof that Hydrogen water is invented by certified lunatics. To consume it properly, you need to drink the entire packet at once to prevent all that nutritious hydrogen from escaping. Should you need to breathe in the midst of this process, take care to ‘cover the spout with your finger, the cap or your mouth’.

Once you’re done guzzling, the instructions are to ‘shake the packet for the last remaining droplets to fall out and apply onto wrinkles, scar, wounds or itch’.

To give them the benefit of doubt, I poured the last of my $7.90 water on an itchy armpit. It did not work. And neither did it seem to cure the manufacturer of their moral disorder and/or insanity.

Taste: Watery but with light, subtle flavors. Almost indistinguishable from the taste of normal water. Might present quite a challenge for the novice water drinker because you have to finish the entire packet in one go.

(3) Fiji Water: ‘Purified By Equatorial Trade Winds’

If the world of luxury waters had a basic bitch, it’d probably be Fiji water. The squarish flower-adorned bottles are everywhere and it’s worth understanding why.

Fiji water knows that people will drink even arsenic if you sell them a good enough story. This is obviously quite difficult when your product is plain water but Fiji has managed the impossible: It has weaved a tale worthy of Shakespeare with water droplets playing the part of Hamlet.

In reality, Fiji water is pumped from a hole in the ground. On their magnificent website however, Fiji’s tepid water has a ‘journey’ and ‘it all starts with a cloud’. Not just any ordinary cloud, mind you, but an immensely privileged cloud who has been ‘purified by equatorial trade winds’ near Antarctica because its parents could afford a gap year.

Bored of chillaxing and posting fitspo Instagram stories, Fiji-cloud settled on a pacific island where the rainforests are pristine and the rocks uniquely volcanic. There, it lives like a cloistered nun, ‘untouched’ by ‘external elements’ in a ‘natural artesian aquifier’ until someone digs it up and flies it halfway around the world for the benefit of people who want to feel pure after fucking their yoga teacher and snorting pure colombian spirulina.

Nevermind that all aquifers are natural by definition. Nevermind the ridiculous delusion that wind can purify clouds. This water truly inspires me as a writer because who knew you could write a Bildungsroman about groundwater? I’m surprised they haven’t won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Taste: Watery, with crisp notes of sea coconut, ocean, and new-age bullshit.

(4) Antipodes Water: ‘Sometimes Lonely Is Good’

The word Antipodes has 2 meanings. Firstly, it’s an old term referring to Australia and New Zealand (where the water originates). Secondly, it means ‘direct opposite’.

I.e. Antipodes water and logic/common sense/science are antipodes.

Let me qualify this statement with choice excerpts from Antipodes’ marketing copy. This is a water that sells itself on loneliness.

That’s right, Loneliness.

Unlike other more sociable bottled waters found in crowded places like Singapore or Berlin, Antipodes is made in sparsely populated NZ. This is a good thing because people contaminate water with ‘industrial/commercial activity’. The exception to this rule is obviously Antipodes, a company apparently staffed by elves, fairies, and sentient unicorns, all working in harmony to operate a water bottling business which runs on pixie dust instead of electricity.

But how else would the world get a bottled water with a ‘gentle, silky texture’ and a ‘unique clean and subtle taste’?

Honestly, hypocrisy is not even my main gripe with Antipodes. The biggest problem is the company’s attempt to reinvent the fucking wheel. Most bottled water is designed to fit snugly in the palm of your hand, but Antipodes wants to be special so they made a bottle shaped like a anal suppository; a bottle so fat that it is constantly threatening to slip from your fingers and shatter into a thousand pretentious pieces.

Taste: Watery, but the experienced drinker might detect a subtle but noticeable taste of hypocrisy. Best served with fresh kiwis by a person with freakishly huge hands.

(5) Tapped Birch Water: ‘Filtered By Nature’

Tapped Birch water is ‘tree-tapped’ ‘pure organic’ water that comes from the inside of a Birch tree growing in Finland.

But why would anyone go to the trouble of visiting a forest and drilling holes in the trees to collect water?

The answer is both simple and not. The short version is that birch sap sweetens the water and adds useful minerals like manganese, making Birch Water a healthful but delicious drink. The long version? The consumer goods industry is so desperate to reproduce the success of coconut water that it has tricked itself into thinking that Birch water actually tastes ‘delicately sweet’.

Either a) The Tapped people are suffering from vivid hallucinations because of Finland’s long winter or b) my tastebud-less colleague Justin Vanderstraaten secretly runs a hipster water empire.

In which upside-down universe does this water taste of anything but ‘watery’? Sure, there’s a weird woody smell that recalls an Ikea showroom but calling Birch water delicately sweet is like calling Daryl Aiden Yow a Photographer.

In truth, Birch water could be quite pleasant if they didn’t hardsell the water’s miraculous properties or simply charged reasonable prices. As it stands, one tiny chrysanthemum-tea-sized 250ml carton costs $3.95. This is because birch sap only appears for a few weeks every year and there is no way to harvest it apart from paying a Latvian farmer to go around stabbing trees with a screwdriver.

Well congratulations Finland, this is truly a worthy successor to Nokia and Angry Birds. A brilliant step on your national trajectory towards the utterly silly.

Taste: Like an Ikea showroom, but more expensive and somehow less practical.

I can’t believe there are no laws against this.

In recent years, we have cracked down on infant formula manufacturers for claiming that their product improves IQ/Cognition. We have banned ‘Pussy’ brand energy drink from our shelves and KFC has removed plastic straws in the name of environmentalism.

But the luxury water industry continues to thrive, living off the ludicrous notion that certain waters have a ‘silky texture’ or is ‘softer and easier to drink’ just because it came from somewhere exotic and inaccessible. Every day of every year, millions of air miles are wasted to feed the delusion that some H2O molecules are superior to others; and that premium artesian water can confer upon its drinkers the abstract virtues of ‘purity’, ‘wellness’ and ‘sophistication.’

I’m sorry, but this is bottled bullshit. A beer or chocolate manufacturer at least has a unique recipe and adds value to its raw materials. But luxury water is just water, 100% identical regardless of its pedigree or alma mater or a previous relationship with Chrissy Teigen.

And if we’re launching a crusade against sugar, fake news, and plastic straws, I don’t see why ‘premium artesian luxury natural’ water should get a free pass.

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