Monday 27 July 2009

Bitter Kas

Bitter KasMade by: Pepsi-Cola Co

Origin: Spain

Imported into the UK: (tbc- sample bought in Spain)

Kas is a soft drinks company that was founded in the Basque country of North Eastern Spain. It was acquired by the Pepsi-Cola company in 1991.

Bitter Kas is a vibrant cherry red colour, clear and bright. It has purple highlights that develop at the rim of the glass and is lightly sparkling.

The nose is highly aromatic and very different. Campari or sweet red vermouth come straight to mind; with scents of tree barks, sandalwood, cloves, peppermint and violets.

The palate is at first fruity ('estery') with flavours of ripe banana, followed by red fruits: Cranberry, cherry and redcurrant. The sweet spell is soon broken however, with the arrival of a controlled bitterness signalled by flavours of kumquat and red orange peel.

There follows an extraordinarily long, bitter, lingering finish that manages to leave a complex aftertaste of vermouth herbs and spices.

Bitter Kas is a unique drink whose bittersweet flavours deserve a wider audience.

Packaging claims: Aperitif made with natural plant extracts, non alcoholic, refreshing drink made from natural extracts with sugar and reduced calorie sweetener

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, acidity regulator: citric acid (E 330), aromas (including plant extracts), colouring: caramel (E 150d), carmoisine (E 122), ponceau 4r (E 124), preservative: potassium sorbate (E202), sweetener: sucralose (E 955)

Price: Should be about €0.80/£0.70 for a 330ml can. Availability in the UK tbc

Wednesday 22 July 2009


CamilcaMade by: Ulker

Origin: Turkey

Imported into the UK: Sweetworld Ltd

Camilca is a sparkling Turkish lemonade. It is a colourless, clear and bright liquid. When poured out, steady streams of fine bubbles appear from various points in the glass (reminds me of a good sparkling wine).

One the nose the juicy scent of 'super ripe' lemons is mouthwatering. A sweet, clean smell that's lightly dusted with a combination of powdered sugar and crushed Disprin tablet.

On the palate Camilca is one of the lightest drinks we have come across at the Drink Station. A flavour of lemon panna cotta is followed by a warmer, sweeter note (think of vanilla custard). There is a curious tonic-like sensation at the end, possibly quinine, that had me searching through the recipe books.

The short finish arrives all too quickly nonetheless, however in spite of this Camilca manages to be a remarkably clean and refreshing drink.

Packaging claims: Lemon aromated soft drink

Ingredients: Water, saccharose, glucose syrup, citric acid (E330), acidity regulator (E331), nature identical flavours (lemon), preservative (E202)

Price: Should be about £0.70 for a 250ml glass bottle, from specialist retailers

Sunday 19 July 2009

7 Up

Made by: Dr Pepper Snapple Group

Origin: USA

Imported into the UK: Britvic plc

7 Up was originally formulated in St Louis, Missouri, USA in 1929. Until 1950 the drink contained lithium citrate, a mood stabilising drug, and was marketed as a hangover cure. The choice of name remains a mystery the inventor refused to explain. Since 1986 the brand rights have been owned by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

7 Up is a clear, bright colourless liquid. It is carbonated with medium sized, uneven bubbles that soon settle down in the glass after the drink is poured.

Fleeting but enticingly sweet on the nose, the aroma is a mouthwatering fusion of lemon & lime in a familiar dual role, all dusted with powdered sugar.

Light again but satisfyingly flavoured, the first sensation on the palate is an 'up-front' sweetness. Before the sugars can begin to threaten however, the acids cut through to bring things swiftly under control.

As with other lemon & lime flavoured drinks, it's the lime flavours that provide most of the running here, and appear to dominate, with the lemon in support and more closely allied to the sweetness underneath.

Despite 7 Up's modest finish, light feel, and undoubted appeal to sweeter tastes, there is enough balance between the elements and (critically) concentration of flavour to refresh and cleanse the palate.

Packaging claims: Natural Lemon and Lime flavour, no preservatives, no colourings, no caffeine

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, citric acid, natural flavouring, malic acid, acidity regulator (sodium citrate)

Price: Should be between £0.50-£0.60 for a 330ml can, widely available

Wednesday 8 July 2009


LiltMade by: Coca-Cola Co

Origin: UK

Lilt is a sparkling fruit flavoured drink that was launched in the UK in 1975. The original flavour was a combination of pineapple and grapefruit, and it was advertised as the drink 'with the totally tropical taste'.

This drink is a pale yellow colour, cloudy but translucent and with a deep yellow hue developing around the rim of the glass. It's highly carbonated with large, uneven bubbles.

Lilt has a rich, fruity nose that reflects its two main flavouring components. On the one hand, tinned pineapple juice; sweet, milky and rich. On the other, concentrated yellow grapefruit juice sharpens things up with citrus overtones. There is a peppery note where the two flavours meet in the middle.

By comparison the palate is light but adequately flavoured, again with the two contrasting flavours battling it out. The milky, tinned sweetness of the pineapple (almost coconutty) makes the early running, soon to be caught and overtaken by the sharp, zesty grapefruit.

The overall effect is balanced, as the acids counter the early sugar to refreshing effect. The carnival is soon over however as the drink ends in a short finish, leaving behind an odd salty, vaguely metallic taste (possibly a result of the three sweeteners).

Packaging claims: Totally tropical taste; this is a totally tropical tasting pineapple and grapefruit sparkling drink with sugar and sweeteners

Ingredients: Carbonated water, fruit juices from concentrates 5% (pineapple, grapefruit), sugar, citric acid, flavourings, antioxidant (ascorbic acid), sweeteners (acesulfame K, aspartame, sodium saccharin), preservative (E202), stabiliser (E412), colour (beta-carotene). Contains a source of phenylalanine

Price: Should be about £0.50-£0.60 for a 330ml can, widely available

Tuesday 7 July 2009


SpriteMade by: Coca-Cola Co

Origin: USA

Imported in the UK: Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd

The Coca-Cola company launched Sprite in 1961, to compete with 7 Up in the sparkling lemon & lime flavour category. 7 Up's popularity had grown steadily since the 1920s. Sprite was initially marketed as a drink mixer (like bitter lemon or tonic) for use with alcoholic drinks like vodka and whisky.

Sprite is an almost colourless, clear carbonated drink with a very faint yellow hue. It emits a steady stream of fine pinhead bubbles when poured.

The nose is very light, pleasant but fleeting. The aromas, as with the flavours, have been carefully spliced together so as to be almost inseperable. Teasing them apart reveals a sliver of lime marmalade, a drop of Jif lemon juice and a sprinkled mix of powdered sugar and crushed Disprin tablet.

On the palate Sprite is a light (read well-diluted), sweet soda with ephemeral flavours of Key lime pie, Rose's lime cordial and lemon tart filling. The faint powdery aroma (Disprin again) barely emerges in the flavour before the drink disappears in a short finish.

Packaging claims: A fresh tasting, sparkling lemon & lime soft drink; Real lemon & lime flavour, no artificial colours, caffeine free

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, citric acid, acidity regulator (E331), flavourings, preservative (E211)

Price: Should be about £0.50-£0.60 for a 330ml can, widely available

Saturday 4 July 2009

Dr Pepper

Dr PepperMade by: DP Beverages Ltd

Origin: USA

Imported into the UK: Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd

Dr Pepper is one of America's oldest soft drinks, preceding the introduction of Coca-Cola by one year. It was formulated by a pharmacist in Texas in 1885, and served to customers at the soda fountain in his drug store. For a short time it's original name (as given by customers) was 'Waco', after the town in which it was born.

Dr Pepper is an appealing dark chocolate brown in colour, clear and becoming lighter gradually towards to rim of the glass. The lively carbonation soon settles to a steady ticking-over when the drink is poured.

The nose is fragrant and direct: It's all about almonds, with marzipan, Amaretto and Italian almond biscotti coming straight to mind. There is also a darker richness to the aroma (possibly the caramel at work) that reminds me of soft fig rolls and chocolate covered raisins.

On the palate Dr Pepper is light (read well-diluted) by comparison. Having said that, the almond flavours translate well, with the addition of a floral note (think of Parma violets or Turkish delight). The caramel colour provides a drop of treacle midway, and there is a lick of cloves just as the drink ends in a short, softly sweet finish.

Packaging claims: Carbonated fruit flavour soft drink; What's the worst that could happen?

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, colour (caramel E150d), flavourings (including caffeine), phosphoric acid, preservative (E211)

Price: Should be about £0.50-£0.60 for a 330ml can, widely available

Thursday 2 July 2009

Irn Bru

Irn BruMade by: A G Barr plc

Origin: Scotland, UK

Irn Bru (pronounced 'Iron Brew') was originally made under the name of 'Strachan's Brew' in Falkirk, Scotland in 1901. The current name came into being in 1946. It remains the best-selling and most popular drink in Scotland. The advertising line 'made in Scotland from girders' is uniquely associated with this drink, and refers to the Ammonium Ferric Citrate it contains.

Irn Bru is a pale, bright burnt-orange colour, clear and intense in the glass. The brisk carbonation soon settles down after the drink is poured.

The aromatic nose takes in concentrated orange juice and fairground candyfloss, before settling on 'Juicy Fruit' chewing gum (imagine a combination of strawberry and banana syrups, vanilla and icing sugar).

On the palate Irn Bru is lively but light (read well-diluted), with tinned citrus making an early impression on the sides of the tongue, followed by sweet orange squash. Those 'Juicy Fruit' flavours then take over again (reminds me of Chantilly cream), before the whole ends in a short finish, leaving a metallic, citrus tang in the aftertaste.

Packaging claims: Original & Best, Bru'd in Scotland to a secret recipe for over 100 years

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar (carbohydrate), citric acid, flavourings (including caffeine & quinine), preservative (E211), colours (E110, E124), Ammonium Ferric citrate (0.002%)

Price: Should be about £0.50-£0.60 for a 330ml can, widely available