Friday, 26 June 2009

Calpico Original Flavour

Calpico Original FlavourMade by: Calpis Co Ltd

Origin: Japan

Imported into the UK: Calpis Co Ltd Europe

Calpico is a Japanese cultured milk drink combining milk with lactobacilli. Its creation in 1919 was inspired by the sour (fermented) milk drinks a Japanese explorer encountered in outer Mongolia.

Calpico is a still, cloudy white drink, opaque but fading to a pale watery rim at the edge of the glass. Once opened a very fine mousse of pinhead bubbles appears on the surface of this drink, however these disappear gradually and cannot be detected on the palate.

The nose opens with aromas of lemon and orange citrus, followed by the rich sweetness of condensed milk (think of rice pudding). There is also a sour lactic note akin to mild plain yoghurt.

On the palate it is light and refreshing, combining milky lactose and lemon flavours in a gently tangy, sweet-sour alliance. There is a fine chalky texture reminding me of a soluble aspirin (think of Disprin). The finish is short and clean, with an excellent balance between the elements.

Packaging claims: Refreshingly sweet and tangy

Ingredients: Water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, non fat dry mik (treated with a lactic acid culture), lactic acid, natural and artificial flavours, citric acid, soy fiber, sodium citrate

Price: Should be about £1.00 for a 335ml can, from specialist retailers

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Tree Top Apple Juice

Tree Top Apple Juice Made by: Nemeco

Origin: France

Imported into the UK: tbc

Tree Top is made from Starking apple juice. Starking is a variety of red dessert apple that originated in the USA, and is notable for it's sweet, aromatic fruit.

This juice is a bright golden amber colour, non-carbonated and very lightly cloudy due to a fine apple pulp in suspension. Once opened a very fine mousse of pinhead bubbles appears on the surface of this drink, possibly as a result of it having been canned under pressure to protect it during transport and keep it fresh. These bubbles cannot be detected on the palate.

The nose combines aromas of apple compote, apple tart (reminds me of a good shortcrust pastry) and caramelised apple. On the palate this juice is fresh and gentle, revealing light but not dilute flavours of ripe dessert apple. The short, clean finish disappears to leave a trace of caramel in the centre of the palate.

Packaging claims: 100% Apple juice, no sugar added, no additives, the choicest fruit, half a century of tradition

Ingredients: Apple juice (Starking)

Price: Should be about £0.70 for a 330ml can, from specialist retailers

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Grace Ginger Beer

Grace Ginger Beer Made by: GraceKennedy Ltd

Origin: Jamaica

Imported into UK: Grace Foods (UK) Ltd

When poured Grace ginger beer is a lightly cloudy, translucent drink with a very pale yellow hue that becomes watery towards the rim of the glass.

The lively carbonation soon settles, and on the nose a spicy, peppery ginger note catches (think of wasabi). The warmth of the ginger is lightened by a fresh lemon citrus, reminding me of lemon barley and citronella.

By the time this hits the palate the carbonation is creamy, and the flavours open on a very light, sweet lemon citrus theme. Again the texture reminds me of barley water, marked by a touch of oil. Then the ginger flavours make a late entrance and gather in strength, to explode finally on a long finish containing warm notes of chilli pepper and cordial.

Packaging claims: Quality since 1922, Jamaican style, Great Caribean taste

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, flavourings, citric acid, preservative: Sodium benzoate

Price: Should be about £0.50 for a 330ml can, from specialist retailers

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A & W Root Beer

A & W Root Beer
Made by: F & N Coca-Cola Pte Ltd

Origin: Singapore

Imported into the UK: Cadbury Schweppes plc

Root beer originates in Philadelphia, USA, where it was first developed as a herbal tea formula and then as a soft drink marketed to miners and the mining community, from where it's popularity grew. Root beer is still strongly associated with North America, however related drinks made using roots, tree barks, herbs and spices exist in many countries (examples being Ginger beer and Dandelion & Burdock in the UK). The original flavouring components of this drink were Sassafras tree root bark, together with Acacia bark. As health concerns gradually surfaced with the use of Sassafras, Sarsaparilla and other complementary herbs, spices and fruits were introduced to flavour the brew.

This root beer is an intense chestnut brown colour, bright and clear, lightly carbonated and fading to a slightly lighter shade of brown at the rim of the glass.

The nose is fragrant and very particular: Menthol (reminds me of Deep Heat cream), while aromas of sticky toffee, vanilla and milk chocolate Digestive play supporting roles.

The palate is sweet at first, with very light (read well-diluted) flavours of molasses, soft brown sugar and earthy caramel leading to menthol and lavender. These then disperse in a short finish, leaving behind a lightly mouth-numbing sensation of menthol and clove in the aftertaste.

Packaging claims: Since 1919, Product of Singapore

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, caramel colour, flavourings, preservative (sodium benzoate), citric acid

Price: Should be about £0.70 for a 330ml can, from specialist retailers

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Elephant Cream Soda

Elephant Cream SodaMade by: Ceylon Cold Stores Ltd

Origin: Sri Lanka

Imported into UK: Universal Suppliers Ltd

Cream Soda is derived from 'ice cream soda' and is believed to have originated in the UK, whereby a sweet carbonated soda was first served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream floating on top. As this melted it created a thick, soft and lasting foam on top, adding a creamy texture and vanilla flavour to the drink. Today the drink is popular and made to different recipes in many countries worldwide, with many still sharing a vanilla flavour in common.

This cream soda is clear, bright and has a very pale greenish yellow colour. The colour fades to a watery rim at the edge of the glass and the drink is very lightly carbonated. On the nose it is perfumed with aromas of soft marshmallow, candyfloss, whipped vanilla cream and containing a metallic note (think of a dessert mixing bowl).

The palate is very light (read well-diluted) and sweet, with ephemeral flavours of blackcurrant fool and clear honey. A nascent creamy texture then disappears without trace in a short, sweet finish.

Packaging claims: None

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, sugar, essence cream soda, liquid heading (E999), preservative E211, colour E102

Price: Should be about £0.60 for a 325ml can, from specialist retailers

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A-Tip Tamarind Drink

A-Tip Tamarind DrinkMade by: C & A Products Co Ltd

Origin: Thailand

Imported into UK: DY Eastern Foods Ltd

Tamarind is the pod-like fruit of a tropical tree often ascribed to India, but which in fact originates in East Africa. The name is derived from the Arabic 'tamr hindi' meaning 'Indian date', since the fruit first travelled back to Egypt and Persia from India. Tamarind fruit is highly versatile and is consumed in many forms, from drinks to candy. It's sweet-sour and acidic properties make it a key ingredient in many savory dishes, chutneys and sauces (for example, Worcester and HP sauces). Thailand cultivates a strain of Tamarind that is notably sweet, with a lower acidity, making the fresh fruit especially popular there.

This drink has a light red-brown colour, is cloudy and still, and contains a fine fruit pulp in suspension. The nose carries an earthy caramel aroma (think of malt extract or molasses), along with spiced orange and a grassy, sappy note of mint (reminds me of Grass Jelly at this point).

On the palate the sweet arrival develops rapidly into a sweet-sour theme. There is a satisfying texture and weight here also, combining elements of both pear and prune juice. Fresh and balanced now the earthy citrus flavours gather, only to dissipate leaving a warm, sour yet oddly refreshing citrus tang on the short finish.

Packaging claims: None

Ingredients: Water 82%, Tamarind Pulp 10%, Sugar 8%

Price: Should be about £1.00 for a 35oml can, from specialist retailers

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Marks & Spencer Cloudy Lemonade

Marks & Spencer Cloudy LemonadeMade by: Marks & Spencer plc

Origin: UK

The final new release in the M&S trio is this Cloudy Lemonade. With a very pale yellow colour, cloudy yet translucent and gently carbonated, it fades to a clear rim at the very edge of the glass.

It has a light, bright lemony nose (reminds me of lemon curd), with a 'freshly squeezed' yet powdery character (think of bitter lemon).

The initial impression on the palate is again light (read well-diluted) and sweet at first, before the 'bitter lemon' flavour takes hold. This increases its grip, with excellent balance now between the elements, before collapsing in a short finish and leaving a mild trace of bitterness in its wake.

Packaging claims: No artificial colours, no artificial flavourings, Vegetarian, traditional since 1934, a traditional recipe

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, lemon juice from concentrate (8%), lemon fruit from concentrate (4%), natural flavouring

Price: £0.63 for a 330ml can, from Marks & Spencer and Marks and Spencer Simply Food outlets

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Marks & Spencer Ginger Beer

Marks & Spencer Ginger Beer
Made by: Marks & Spencer plc

Origin: UK

The second new release from M&S is this pale, cloudy Ginger Beer. In the glass it's gently carbonated, translucent and showing a watery rim at the edge of the glass. As it settles the nose is treated to the warm, spicy aroma of freshly grated ginger root.

On the palate this is light and sweet at first, then spicy and warming with a little more creaminess in the middle, with the peppery ginger, encouraged by a marked sweetness, becoming resurgent on the finish.

Packaging claims: No artificial colours, no artificial flavourings, Vegetarian, traditional since 1937, a traditional recipe

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, natural flavouring, citric acid, preservative E202

Price: £0.63 for a 330ml can, from Marks & Spencer and Marks and Spencer Simply Food outlets