A few months ago, I was introduced to Calpico when I decided to try the mango flavor. I ended up liking it a good bit, so I recently decided to go back to the store and give the original variety a shot. For the uninitiated, Calpico is a Japanese, milk-flavored, non-carbonated soft drink that tastes about as different from the American norm as it sounds. But this is a good sort of different; the sort of different that makes me wish that more big, American soft drink companies would start experimenting with adding more "unexpected" flavors into their beverages.
Anyway, before I get into a rant about the tedious state of America's mainstream beverage market, let's talk about Calpico. Much like my previous experience with the mango variety, the regular Calpico has a taste that is sort of hard to describe. It definitely tastes like a milk beverage, but it is much thinner than most other drinks that have their roots in dairy. This is likely due to the usage of dry milk in the formula rather than unaltered, liquid milk. Although this does cause the drink to have a slightly dry aftertaste, I think that this was a great decision, as the resulting lightness of the liquid makes Calpico much more readily drinkable than many of its much thicker dairy-based relatives. As is accurately claimed on the front of the can, the drink is "refreshingly sweet and tangy." It is sweet without being overbearing or heavy (as many dairy-based things can often tend to be), and there is a hint of acidic bite to the flavor. Before trying Calpico, I would have simply assumed that combining acidic and milky tastes would have been a recipe for flavor disaster. But I would have been wrong, as the pairing actually works quite well.
Now, I'm not sure that the above would remain true were the dairy to be any thicker. But that is not the case, and since it makes little sense to sit around on a beverage review blog analyzing what could have potentially been wrong with a drink, I will simply conclude by saying that as the drink stands, the balance and overall drinkability are very good. It's definitely different, and some may find it a bit too unusual for their tastes, but I like this one a lot, despite its very "sometimes drink" nature.
In other words, it is very good and you should try it.
Purchased: Asian Market [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 11.3 fl. oz. [335mL]
Price: Unfortunately, I don't remember. Somewhere between $0.99 and $1.50