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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jarritos Variety Pack: Tamarindo

The time has come.

This Jarritos odyssey began, arguably, with a review of Jarritos' Tamarindo flavor. It was a little while after that that I was first contacted by the Jarritos company with their offer to send me a variety pack for review, presumably because I didn't much care for the tamarind flavor.
While the variety pack has held some surprises, both pleasant and not quite as pleasant, I did note that there was a tamarind bottle in it. It was as if Jarritos was offering me a chance at redemption in their eyes, a way to clear the air between us. Maybe they changed the formula! It could be their way of atoning; a humble offering for me to evaluate, to determine if their honor could be restored.

Or maybe it's a chance for personal growth on my part. When I have expressed dissatisfaction with other Weird sodas, readers have written in with vigorously-expressed opinions concerning my comments on their favorite beverages, as well as faith that if I were slightly higher on the evolutionary scale (above, for example, yeast), I would feel differently. These occasions have reminded me that my own journey is hardly at an end, and in my voyaging I may well experience my own alterations and transformations. Perhaps I have reached a new level of maturity in which it is not the Tamarindo which has changed, it is only myself, and I will find that I now understand and appreciate it.

Or, maybe, there is, in fact, no Tamarindo. Perhaps the bottle contains an assortment of vile toxins or biowarfare agents, and upon quaffing I will be reduced into a mound of gibbering protoplasm. Jarritos corporate ninjas will rappel into the Lab from their candy-colored stealth helicopters and plant a sign over my jellied remains, warning any who might see it of the dangers of implying that a Jarritos flavor tastes like "mango armpit".

I have NO FEAR.

Where and when: Donated by Jarritos
Color: Medium tan, semi-translucent. The color reminds me of cantaloupe, although it is a bit darker/browner.
Oddly, although I don't have a comparison bottle to be sure, I think this is significantly lighter than the Jarritos Tamarindo that I had before. Is that a promising sign?
Scent: Tangy, sharp, acid, not very sweet. Surprisingly, not unpleasant; there is an element of muskiness, but it's not all that bad. It's strange...almost meaty, which is kind of disturbing.
K-i-C: "I don't smell anything." It *is* faint, I agree.
Taste: Okay, checklist.
Cup? Check.
Backup tasters? Check.
Emergency supply of caramels? Check.
Here goes.

Hmmm. The dominant flavor is tartness, not as sharp as lemon or quite as bitter as lime. It's got a sort of tangerine feel to it. Hard to pin down. There's a certain mango-y quality, especially to the initial taste and first follower, which is fast.
It's sweeter than the smell, especially right at first. The tart comes right on the heels of that, and is followed about a second and a half later by the fruity. We go from sweet to citrusy to mango-tangerine in the first few seconds.
A few seconds after that, there's the muskiness, but it's muted. Actually, it's a bit like caramel (and no, that's not because I was preemptively inoculating myself from the emergency supply).
In the previous review, I likened it to pre-vomit saliva. On the third quaff, I can feel that a bit; this produces a heavy feel in the bottom of the mouth, but it's not as bad as before.

K-i-C: "Tastes like sweet armpit juice."

Well, I don't think it's as bad, anyway.

A few more swigs later, it's becoming a bit less pleasant. The sour saliva taste is increasing, as is the muskiness. Perhaps this behaves like wine; there may be some sort of oxidation going on as it's exposed to the air, which is changing the flavor. Perhaps, as in so many cases, the K-i-C is quicker to grasp the inevitable truths than I am.

I decide to take some out to the Lead Assistant Tester and .$O", who is again visiting the Lab. I'm not telling them the flavor, though.

.$O": "Well, it looks disgusting."
They swig.
LAT: "Ugh! Bitter!"
.$O": "Mmmmm!" *swigs again*
LAT: "It's all heavy and slimy in my mouth."
.$O": "It's really good! Tastes like...apple cider, but fizzy." Interestingly, he's right; there is a similarity to apple cider vinegar.
LAT: "But it's bitter, like they crushed the stems in, too." *grimace* "It's good, though." *swigs*

From this, I have learned two things. First, that Tamarindo is a complex flavor, and probably an acquired taste. Some folks seem to really relish it; others fear and loathe it.
Second, there is no soda so repulsive that the LAT can't bring himself to enjoy it. He's a born Weird Soda reviewer.

I am concluding that Jarritos Tamarindo isn't as bad as I thought the first time. I could enjoy the first few sips. However, as I went on, I found it less and less pleasant; the muskiness and heaviness became increasingly apparent, masking the crisp tart flavors. It went from an earthy tart sparking cider to the slightly slimy feel of cider vinegar and club soda.
I could imagine, though, that someone who was already fond of tamarind would enjoy this.

Unfortunately, it wasn't so awful as to justify digging into the emergency caramel stash, which saddens me. These disappointments are part of the burden a Quaffmaster must learn to bear.

My thanks to Jarritos for an interesting set of samples of Weirdness to review. In the days to come, we'll be delving deeper into the realms of the Weird. I have a few samples from Mitsuwa, and...shudder...possibly another product of Biotta.

*dramatic music cue* Dun dun DUUUUUUUUNNNNNN!

Quaff rating: 2. There are pleasant flavors in this, but they are adulterated with Weirdness of the bad sort.
Cough rating: Began around 1.5, but rose to 2.5 over subsequent sips. I'm going to give it an average score of about 2. Significantly aversive, but not a threat to one's digestion.

Afterburp update: Earthy. Kind of unpleasant.

Further aftertaste update: Mmmmmmm, caramels.

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