Sunday, February 24, 2013

Victoria's Kitchen Licorice/Mint Almond Water

As many of you know by now, I absolutely love Victoria's Kitchen almond water. Although I was hesitant to try it at first, I fell in love with their original sweet almond water immediately after the first bottle, and then enjoyed the coconut flavor just as much. It would make sense, then, that I was very excited when Victoria's Kitchen offered to send me a sample pack of their newest flavor: licorice/mint.

Having finally learned from my unfounded hesitancy to try the last two flavors, I went into this one without the slightest hint of doubt, and I was not disappointed. I have been very impressed with Victoria's Kitchen so far, and this new flavor is no exception. This is not something that I say very often—even to myself—but I can honestly say that this is one of the best drinks that I have had in quite some time.

Much like with the Almond Water Coconut, the formula of the Almond Water Licorice/Mint is not drastically different from the normal taste of the unflavored almond water. Rather, the flavors are layered into the existing body of the almond water, being sure never to overtake the aromatic flavor of the almonds in the drink. This is fairly impressive, given that licorice and mint are also very aromatic flavors that have a natural tendency to overpower whatever ingredients with which they are paired. It is clear that a lot of time and attention went into getting the flavors just right while still staying true to the original vision of their all-natural almond water taste. The mint and licorice are both very present on the olfactory at first, lingering just long enough to give you the impression of the flavor before mostly dissipating into the tastefully balanced sweetness of the almond water. This may seem odd to some—the idea of a vanishing flavor—but I find that I really enjoy the effect. It offers a variety of independent but cooperative flavor experiences that allows each taste to be picked out and clearly identified, while still contributing to one complete and satisfying whole. Each return to the bottle actively encourages the drinker to keep taking "one more sip" to fully recognize everything that is going on in the beverage. Then, before you are really aware of how much you have consumed, your almond water is gone.

I really like this drink. If my interests were consistent and determinant enough to actually maintain a steady "top beverages" list, I have no doubt that this one would rank very, very high. The drink is made complex with simple ingredients, is interesting while still maintaining an "anytime drink" appeal, and is thoroughly refreshing (in the literal sense) without sacrificing flavor. And, as if there weren't enough positives, each bottle is naturally only 100 calories. While I have had combinations of licorice and mint in foods and candies in the past, this is the first time that I have ever experienced the pairing in a beverage, and after the stellar example set by Victoria's Kitchen, I hope that we start to see more companies experimenting with the flavors in the future. Everything from Victoria's Kitchen is sure to satisfy, but if you are stuck on which of their products to try first, this is definitely the best so far.

In other words, this one has my highest of recommendations. I can't wait to see what's next from Victoria's Kitchen.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Samples sent courtesy of Victoria's Kitchen, LLC.
For more information about Victoria's Kitchen, visit them online at:
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

MiO Fit

Those who have been following Drinkable Review for the last year or two will be well aware of my long, involved history with Kraft's line of MiO water enhancers. I have been sampling new types and flavors of MiO since the original line was released in March of 2011. MiO Fit, intended to be a more economical replacement for conventional sports drinks, is the newest addition to the ever-expanding MiO arsenal.

MiO Fit, as one would expect, operates very much the same as other types of MiO. You simply add as much or as little MiO as you would like to your water, and give it a quick stir or shake to mix everything up. MiO Fit differs from its predecessors, however, in that it is intended to be a replacement for conventional sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and Propel, to name a few. Each bottle of MiO Fit is fortified with electrolytes and B vitamins to help replenish the nutrients that your body burns up during exercise. Although I have not used MiO Fit in an athletic setting (I'm...uh..."taking a break" from my old jogging routine), this is the same approach as most of the well-established "professional" sports drinks. Because they work in essentially the same way, MiO Fit has one distinct advantage over its pre-bottled competition: multiple servings per bottle. For the same price as three 20 oz. bottles of Gatorade (7.5 servings), one bottle of MiO Fit will convert 18 equivalent servings of water into delicious exercise fuel.

And I do actually mean delicious. To be honest, MiO Fit sort of surprised me in that the flavors were good enough to stand alone as tasty beverages even before considering the added functionality. Anyone who has had a sports drink is likely familiar with the lingering, salty aftertaste that is generally only appealing during breaks from heavy workouts during which your only concern is how quickly you can get a liquid of some kind into your face. But Mio Fit has, on the whole, managed to avoid this aftertaste. It is still noticeable if you focus carefully on detecting the flavor, but it is very easy to overlook during regular consumption. This is actually somewhat impressive, as electrolytes are—from a chemical standpoint—essentially just salts. It's fairly obvious that Kraft put some time and effort into hiding the lingering saline aftertaste that haunts so many other sport/performance beverages.

The flavors themselves are also very tasty. The Arctic Grape flavor is very tasty, and while it does smack of artificiality, the grape flavoring is actually fairly subtle and easy to drink. It is not overbearing like many artificial grape flavorings and works well with the mild flavor-altering effects of the electrolytes and vitamins. The Berry Blast flavor, however, is where I was most impressed. I have a long history of generally disliking beverages with the sort of vague "artificial berry" flavoring that has become so common of these sorts of drinks, so I was not particularly excited to try the MiO Fit version of the flavor. But despite my hesitation, MiO Fit is officially one of the first berry-flavored things that I have legitimately enjoyed. Like the grape, the berry was much more subtle and understated than I expected it to be, and the sort of caustic, chemical taste that normally comes with artificial "berry" was surprisingly absent. Both flavors are excellent, and while I prefer the Arctic Grape to the Berry Blast, I do so only slightly. Either flavor would make a great choice when trying to decide which to try first.

Overall, MiO Fit is a very welcome addition to the MiO family. Those who exercise frequently will find a lot to like in the portability and "value for money" of MiO Fit. But even for those who do not follow a regular workout routine, MiO Fit offers two wonderful new flavors to the MiO family. Functionality and appealing taste can often be difficult things to simultaneously work into the same beverage, but Kraft has done so with flying colors. Definitely check this one out.

Verdict: Recommended

Samples sent courtesy of Kraft Foods, Inc.
For more information about MiO and MiO Fit, visit the official website at:
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