Clearly the highest quality Scotland is rapidly gaining a formidable reputation for the quality of its natural mineral water, and there are healthy brand extensions into flavoured and sparkling lines. Sarah Hardcastle reports In a recent survey to find out which European country has the purest natural mineral water, Scotland led the field with 36% of the vote (NOP for Highland Spring). France came second (16%), followed by Wales, England and Ireland. Highland Spring is Scotland's leading natural mineral water and the largest British brand with the highest household penetration (TGI). This year it acquired the premium Gleneagles Spring Water noted for its g' water brand in a stylish glass bottle which has listings in most of the multiples. "The addition of Gleneagles' bottling facility will enable us to exploit niche sectors and invest in new product development in the long term," says marketing director Liz Breckinridge. Highland Spring is also doubling output this summer, having invested over £12m in a new bottling facility. Last month it launched Looney Tunes Water, the first bottled water to target primary school age children. Featuring Warner Bros characters and a sports cap, the 330ml bottle aims to make water fun to drink and is targeted at children's lunchboxes. Scottish Border Springs' Purely Scottish brand is after the same market for its new Fruit'N'Vits, a range of three naturally fuit flavoured still mineral waters with added vitamins. Designed as a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks, the range comes in 250ml sports cap bottles for children, and a 500ml version for adults. Flavours are orange & tangerine, peach and blackcurrant. The Purely Scottish brand draws its water from the Bransley Spring deep within the Lammermuir Hills on the Scottish Borders which owes its crystal clear quality to natural filtration through ancient red sandstone. It forms the brand's core range of still and sparkling mineral water, as well as the base for an expanding range of healthy soft drinks. These include a new range of naturally fruit flavoured sparkling mineral waters with added vitamins that are sugar free and come in peach, apple, strawberry, lemon & lime, blackberry and raspberry flavours. As part of its drive for expansion, the company has recently re-branded all its products and says it's now seeing a dramatic sales increase as a result. Although a relative newcomer to the market, it already has listings in Sainsbury, Safeway, Asda and Woolworths. Sangs (Banff) sales director John Donald says sales are up 30-40% this year as a result of the company's recent spate of soft drink and flavoured water innovations. It has recently introduced MacB Still, a still variant to complement its MacB Sparkling sugar free flavoured water range which is listed in Safeway nationally, and in Asda and Sainsbury in Scotland. The still variant comes in peach, lemon & lime, apple & black-currant, strawberry & kiwi flavours, and is initially being offered with 50% free (500ml for 330ml at rsp 39p) in Safeway which is the first to list the new sportscap version. A similar offer is being run in Somerfield (Scotland) which is listing still and sparkling versions from August. Sangs has also targeted the children's market this year with Jetpops, a sugar free drink in a 330ml sportscap in raspberry, blueberry, pineapple & orange, lemon & lime flavours. "Demand has been so strong, we're planning a blackcurrant flavour," says Donald. Its other recent development, Justadash of MacB Concentrate, enables consumers to create five litres of flavoured water at home for 99p. In Scotland, it is listed by Asda, with trials in 20 stores planned by Safeway. Of the other leading Scottish brands, Strathmore has recently invested £2m in its Forfar factory to double output and has added Autumn Cranberry to its Clear flavoured water range. And Caledonian Clear has revamped its range with a strong blue and green tartan livery to reinforce the brand's Scottish personality. {{Z SUPPLEMENTS }}