Friday, February 07, 2014

Vanilla Coke - the return (plus so much pop it's sickening)

So, anyone who has had the misfortune to dip into this on again-off again
blog may know that the frequent soft drink reviews sprang up as a result of
the withdrawal of Diet Vanilla Coca Cola from UK distribution, my favourite
chemically flavoured carbonated water drink of All Time. After I sourced
the last few bottles I could find in London, from the now closed
convenience store that used to be opposite the Trocadero on Shaftesbury
Avenue, I set off on a quest to try new drinks and new flavours.

Then, in Spring 2013, Coca Cola deigned to reintroduce Vanilla Coke to
Britain. You'd think that this would be a call for celebration, seeing me
throw the parties this year that I didn't for the jubilee or Olympic Games
last year. But no, because those evil capitalist pigs at Coke in their
infinite wisdom have decided not to bring back the Diet version.

So, after being available for over a month, I finally caved in and
bought myself a bottle of full-fat 6-teaspoons-of-refined-sugar tooth decay
that is Coca Cola Vanilla.

Opening the bottle there is a barely traceable whiff of vanilla, but almost
undetectable. I decided to decant a morsel into a plastic cup to see if a
larger surface area would improve the olfactory impact.
A slight increase but still akin to a whiff of perfume brought to you on
the wind from across an industrial estate's car park.


I'm one of those people who insists they can tell the difference between
Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi etc. and I have to say I prefer the
chemically sweeter taste of Diet Coke to the sugar version.
In this case it's no different - there's a dark acidity in full fat Coke
that disagrees with my palate and the slight hint of vanilla flavour
doesn't skew the flavour into a favourable direction for me. Similar to the
smell, the vanilla taste is so slight as make me suspect some sort of
homeopathy was in action at Coke HQ.

Whatever, my dreams are dashed, hope is gone, light put out from the world
etc. etc. etc.

I could stomach the stealing of water sources in developing countries for
their sticky fluid, their implicit acceptance of the murder of trade
unionists and various other global corporation-scale crimes, but bringing
back the Vanilla with no Diet option? Sacrilege.
Also - 53g of sugar in a 500ml bottle. 53g! 58% of your RDA! It seems crazy
that this can be sold without being labelled as a poison.


My ongoing sampling of fizzy pops is starting to wind down as I come across less examples of thus far unsupped beverages, but here's a quick roundup of ones I've tried in the last year:

Fentiman's cherry tree cola
A little hiss once the cap is twisted; the smell is very similar to cola bottle chewy sweets, but with a fruity hint. The taste is pretty much that; very nice, though after half the bottle I had an odd, rubbery after taste.

Barr Red Kola
Open it up, and there's a stale boiled sweets smell.
On pour the fizz dissipates quickly. First taste you get that smell again but more fruity, but the taste is only slight, not overpowering,  with a rubbery after taste and a very sugary feel. The fruity taste is garbled, nothing standing out or separately hanging back. I'm not quite sure how this relates to cola, it's a vaguely fruity pop with little distinction.

Free & easy Sarsaparilla
Rooty smell, as in root vegetables. Gross taste, a rubbery, beetrooty sweetness.
Somehow bitter without being bitter? Confusing. 

Pepsi Max Cherry
Faint cherry smell on opening. Has that distinct Pepsi taste beneath a slightly sickly sweet cherry, almost  feeling like it leaves a teeth-coating residue despite the lack of sugar. 

Heritage diet cola
A bit thinner in the colour than most colas, unsurprising for a budget offering. Fairly weak odour, it smells as you'd except. 
Slight taste, a little cloying despite the lack of sugar, it's definitely well below the par of the main contenders, but it's a sliver above most own brand store colas I've tried.

Belvoir ginger beer
Weak flavour but a substantial heat provoked at the back of the throat. The smell is a bit artificial lemon, the flavour doesn't increase later but the heat dies on.

Fruity once the top is off,  that remains once decanted into glass, but the taste is altogether somethig else. Bitter sweet, with a taste that seems to come from the roof of the mouth. A sickly sweetness lingers there, but it's hard to place the origins of the bitter flavour, it doesn't have the earthiness found in other kola nut colas.
The blurb is odd. Inspired by a 12th century taoist recipe, but with Amazonian Guarana. As it's 98% apple juice I can see with hindsight that the bitterness comes from the acidity.
Can't see myself ever drinking this again. 

Ginger Grouse 
Nice smell, smooth taste with slight ginger bite. Pleasant but maybe slightly too sweet. Citrus is evident but not overwhelming but the advertised whisky is very hard to detect.

Wychwood Brewery Ginger Beard
Smells like proper beer: bitter and acrid. Tastes like beer too, but milder with a sweet gingery mask over the bitter undertow of the barley malt. This is a beer infused with ginger as opposed to a ginger beer infused with alcohol, but this should be no surprise as it states this on the label. Woe is me and my sweet, sweet tastebuds. 

 Crabbies Strawberry and Lime
So, I like Crabbies ginger beer, but the limited Strawberry & Lime version is absolutely and totally foul, the worst combination of sickly sweet and slimily sour.

Crabbies Orange
Another limited edition of Crabbies, this time the orange flavour is unwholesome but not as immediately foul as the Strawberry and Lime monstrosity.

No comments:

Post a Comment