Until Oogave, I had sworn off many of today's alternative sweeteners as not much more than "passable." Agave nectar in particular has been seeing an increase in popularity lately as one of these said sweeteners, and while it has seen its fair share of abuses in the hands of experimenting companies, Oogave sets itself apart from the competition with a fantastic product that avoids many of the downfalls of the viscous, golden substance.
Oogave recently sent me a sampler pack of their sodas (one of each flavor, as seen here), and I must admit that I had some mild doubts at first. I have had beverages in the past that were sweetened with agave nectar (cocktails, primarily), and they are usually just too sweet and syrupy for my tastes. I am glad to say, however, that my initial reservations about the product were blown to pieces upon tasting the beverage. Oogave is, in a lot of ways, the perfect soda. There are a lot of things that Oogave does right, and several of their flavors were absolutely exemplary of not just appropriate usage of agave nectar as a sweetener, but also of the flavor in general. The agave nectar is balanced in such a way that the flavor of the nectar itself is not prominent in the beverage. It is still there if you look for it, but it does not rebelliously stand out like in many of the other agave-sweetened drinks that I have tried.
Most people consider the following statement to be a distinction without a difference, but I believe that the purpose of a sweetener is to sweeten the beverage, not to make it sweet. To me, "sweetening" something means to add sweetener so as to bring out the natural flavors of the other ingredients and add a bit of drinkablility to an otherwise bland or bitter beverage. To "make a drink sweet" means to intentionally add sweetener so as to make a beverage that someone would not normally enjoy sweet enough to palate. A perfect example of the latter would be the way that people in the southeast U.S. drink their tea. Very few people who I have met in the area enjoy unsweetened tea. In fact, many have a strong aversion to the beverage. However, once so much sugar is added that the liquid is no longer recognizable as tea, it becomes the cultural beverage of choice and people drink it as though their body's chemical make-up depends on it. Over-sweetening is a pitfall that I feel many mainstream companies find themselves stumbling into time after time, and it is always refreshing to find a company like Oogave that understands this difference and keeps its sweetener on the right shelf (so to speak).
Anyway, Oogave tastes great. Each flavor (Root Beer, Watermelon Cream, Mandarin Key Lime, Ginger Ale, Grapefruit, and Cola) is crisp, easy to drink, and well-balanced, and the flavors used are clearly very natural. The mandarin key lime stands out particularly in this regard, as both the mandarin and the lime taste like natural citrus rather than their typical, candy-like counterparts. The only flavor that stuck out to me as odd was the root beer. It is by no means bad, and is definitely better than any mainstream competition that I've had, but the agave nectar and root beer flavoring just didn't seem to mesh with each other quite as well as the others.
The ginger ale, on the other hand, is absolutely perfect. I have been searching for essentially years now for a natural ginger ale that has the taste of real, fresh ginger, but does not leave my throat burning after each sip. Oogave has rescued me from my long-running series of failed attempts, and I think that it is safe to say that I have, at long last, found "my" ginger ale.
All in all, Oogave is pretty incredible. I don't want to do the brand injustice by trying to describe it too carefully with mere language. This is definitely one that everybody should experience for themselves, and I highly recommend picking one (or as many as you can hold) of these up when and if you have the chance. Oogave has developed a spectacular beverage, and I can not wait to try whatever they come out with next.
Verdict: Highly Recommended
Purchased: Whole Foods [Check your local health food markets, as well]
Size: 12 fl. oz. [355 mL]
Price: About $1.50 per bottle
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