James Wearmouth’s Things I Just Don’t Understand: 4 – Artesian Water

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I have never been so baffled, bewildered and angered at the same time! Artesian water – I mean what even is it? Well, Wikipedia enlightened me on this occasion:

If water reaches the ground surface under the natural pressure of the aquifer, the well is called a flowing artesian well. An aquifer is a geologic layer of porous and permeable material such as sand and gravel, limestone, or sandstone, through which water flows and is stored.

After a lengthy internal debate I have decided that nothing is quite as pretentious as “artesian water”. So, to prove that it is just a marketing exercise, I did the only logical thing – I bought a bottle. My choice of “artesian” water? I went for Voss. Despite it sounding like a Russian Bond villain’s cat, Voss is a fairly successful artesian water brand in the UK. One can find it stocked in supermarkets such as Waitrose.



So, first glance. The Voss water is contained within a cylindrical glass bottle holding 800ml. Nothing hugely special! However, the sleek glass exterior is very attractive and vaguely sexy – as far as a bottle of water goes! Voss would certainly feel at home on a boardroom table twenty-five storeys high in London. I have come to the conclusion that Voss is simply a statement of wealth. There is no other comprehensible reason why someone would favour a bottle of Voss over a competitor’s offering.

A blind taste test? Well, I’m sure that I couldn’t tell the difference between a glass of Voss, Evian or Volvic. Voss even states on its website that its water is:

bottled at an artesian source in pristine Southern Norway, producing a naturally pure water, low in minerals and incomparable in taste. Purity at VOSS starts with our water and flows through to the pure intentions of our people.

I can assure you that “incomparable in taste” is the opinion of their marketing team only. So, what will a bottle of artesian water set you back? Well, a litre bottle of Highland Spring comes at 61p in Waitrose. So, I know what you’re thinking. Double? Triple? No, actually the cost of a bottle of Voss is four times, yes quadruple the price, of a bottle of Highland Spring.

So, what is the point in Voss? Well, my conclusion would be that it is simply a product for those with too much money. I also tried the sparkling version and could barely tell the difference. I am somewhat outraged that I am £2.40 worse off. The brand claims to be “pure”, but in my opinion the only thing pure about Voss is that it is a pure rip off!