Here at America’s favorite Soda Blog, we felt that it was time to finally go international! Powered by the advice of our vast* European readership, we decided to take a virtual trip to Scotland in order to sample their favorite soft drink. Will their fizzy fluid hold up to our American ingenuity and complete lack of any common decency? There’s only one way to find out: we filled our Amazon cart with bubbly goodness and had it flown over to The States to save at least one 6-pack from the head-scratching madness that is Brexit. Our passports are stamped, so let’s set our sights on a globe trotting Soda Blog adventure!
*The term “vast” is used with plenty of artistic license
Irn-Bru, pronounced “Iron Brew” in the King’s English, is regarded as the top soft drink of Scotland by some…and with absolutely no research on my end to back that up I’m just going to confirm that as fact. I’ve best heard it described as “what the Scots drink whenever they’re not drinking scotch” and that’s good enough of a sales pitch for me! Before we even address taste, the first thing I notice about Irn-Bru is its unique advertising over in the UK. After simple google search, I found a few ads and I was hooked.
In America, a crazy ad campaign is usually the sign of a less than perfect product. Jones Soda is really “neat” from a collector standpoint, but most of the flavors simply taste like ass. So, how the hell is this one going to taste? The bottle and orange liquid give me initial thought to a nice Orange Crush or Fanta, however those dreams were quickly dashed with a left hand turn of the blue cap. The carbonation and the sound were familiar, but the smell told a far different tale. The only real conclusive smell I can equate it to is…cough syrup. The medicine-y shiver courses through my body as I soon realize this badly needs to be iced down. I take an unadulterated sip and while the flavor is interesting, I can’t escape the overwhelming Robitussin sensation. For anything close to enjoyment, this bad boy is going to need some ice. After a deep chill down with good dilution, the sharpness of the flavor can finally enter the conversation. It’s a bit ironic that Scotland’s second favorite drink requires ice for a proper flavor profile with the opposite being true for its more famous contribution. Think of the tinge of a ginger beer without the burn. When you live in a country where the only other option is straight whisky, I can see where a taste like this would be a welcome change of pace.
Now I know what you might be thinking: pour in a handle of single malt, blast some Belle and Sebastian and call the cocktail “Her Majesty’s Case for Scottish Independence” or some shit. You weren’t thinking that? Sorry, guess it was just me. For the alcohol portion of this Soda Blog entry, it seemed more appropriate to just keep it simple. Bacardi Oakheart is an old friend of mine, and mixed with Coca-Cola I was practically fueled by the stuff in my mid 20s. With Irn-Bru’s sharp taste, the spice of the rum was set up to compliment it well. Pouring in a quick shot with ice gently mixed…and that’s all, it works. I really wish there was a joke or wild observation I could make, but it just matches up perfectly. The medicine element is eliminated by the rum, and any roughness by the rum is canceled by the soft tang of the Irn-Bru. Bacardi needs to stop selling that nasty “Oak and Cola” in a can and put in a call to whichever hilarious sounding town name Irn-Bru is from instead. We’re on the cusp of something beautiful here, and I need the world to know about it. Like the old Oakheart ads used to say: a thread can break, a needle can bend…but together they form an unbreakable bond. It’s time to reconsider the hard soda market with this concoction at the forefront, if only to save us from ourselves.
Follow Matt on Twitter for more passing thoughts on the world of soft drinks and the occasional conspiracy theory.