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ter Mountain Spring Water label. Though the Scarbroughs later sold their company, Anniston Water Works continued the bottled water venture until the new owners abruptly ceased operation in February 2010. Does bottled water taste remarkably different from tap water? Is it more pure? Is it better for us? In most cases the answer is no, unless you’re traveling or residing in third world countries. But waters do taste differently if tasted blindly with bottle labels covered from view. At such a tasting at the Cloisters in Sea Island Georgia, out of ten waters, I was able to identify only three, Perrier because of its sparkling minerality, Evian because of its softness, and Sea Island tap water because of its sulfuric aroma. All ten waters including Sea Island tap were perfectly potable, but beyond these three, others were indistinguishable. Even if labels are in plain view, they can be confusing. Water labeled spring water must contain water that comes from a naturally flowing underground water source. Bottled water labeled artesian water must come from an underground confined source

that flows from pent up pressure when tapped. Waters labeled purified can come from any source as long as the water is treated and filtered to remove harmful elements. One interesting source encountered recently is Tasmanian Rain All Natural Drinking Water, “from the purest skies on earth,” says the maker. According to the bottler, this rainwater is collected before it ever touches the ground in custom designed catchment facilities located on the island of Tasmania off the coast of southern Australia. Why do I have visions of thousands of 375ml bottles suspended above the earth, mouth open, waiting to be filled? I found this water to be soft, bland and uninspiring, but I don’t suppose water should be inspiring. As much as I eschew pressure from waitstaff to order special water bottlings, I must confess I am a bottled water junkie. Not because I think it is better for me, more pure, or tasty. It is a matter of convenience. Without it, I feel lost. Something akin to not fastening my seat belt. In the fastest growing beverage business in the world, my addiction makes bottled water executives very happy much to the chagrin of environmentalists whose main criticism of the industry - a valid one - is the environmental footprint left by all the plastic water bottles that end up in landfills. Pat Kettles has taken a break from her regular gig as wine guru.

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Longlead Summer 2010  
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