Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rhino's Relaxation Drink

From the looks of things, it seems that relaxation beverages have quickly become one of the "next big things" in the beverage industry. New relaxation beverages and shots are being released almost constantly: to the point where it has become impossible for me to keep up with all of the different products and companies that have been popping up lately. I have reviewed quite a few relaxation beverages for Drinkable Review in the past, and although I tend to enjoy them (even if I don't necessarily always reap the benefits that they claim to offer), I do occasionally stumble across one that sort of misses the point. Unfortunately, Rhino's Relaxation Drink is one of the less than stellar examples.

But first, I'd like to start with what Rhino's Relaxation does right. From a marketing perspective, Rhino's product stands out incredibly well on a shelf. Unlike the world of consumer electronics, white is still an eye-catching color in the beverage industry, as it is relatively rare that you will see a primarily white can/label/bottle sitting among all of the other busy and colorful graphics of a shelf full of competing products, all vying desperately for what is likely already your only half-committed attention. Because of this, when I do see a white can, I almost instinctively reach out to take a closer look. Rhino's seems to understand the power of having a "clean" label in a world of well-established and familiar logos, as their graphic is printed in a color that mimics the soft, natural grey of the aluminum behind it. The front of the can only includes the necessary information—no space is wasted on meaningless slogans, graphics, or disclaimers—and makes excellent use of empty space to keep the eye focused on the important details.

But what makes Rhino's Relaxation unique among interesting cans is the actual physical feel of the label. Rather than sticking with the smooth, metallic feel of a typical beverage can, Rhino's has opted to apply a sort of rough matte finish to their cans, giving them a tactile sensation not unlike that of Bristol paper or eggshell-finish wall paint. I was not expecting this when I picked it up in the store (although I did wonder for a moment why the can was not reflecting light in quite the same way as the others on the shelf), and the novelty of it caught me so off guard that I immediately placed the can into my shopping basket. Rhino's has produced a drink that quite literally feels unique—something that has become increasingly difficult to do in the rapidly expanding independent beverage market. 

Unfortunately, this is where most of my enjoyment of the beverage stopped. The relaxation offering from Rhino's product line comes in one flavor so far: blueberry/blackberry. I was, at first, very excited to give this one a try, as I am generally a fan of both blueberry and blackberry, but my excitement waned somewhat upon opening the can. Immediately after popping the tab open, my nose was greeted with a very strong, pungent smell that, for a moment, bordered on foul. The smell dissipated and mellowed out after a moment, but the first impression was made, and it was not a promising one.

Although I have learned that smells can often be deceiving, the actual flavor of Rhino's Relaxation was not entirely appealing, either. The blueberry and blackberry flavors were both noticeable in the drink, but the flavor as a whole was overshadowed by an acidic "energy drink" overtone (likely from the inclusion of too much citric acid) that muddled the flavors with a caustic sourness. The ingredients list also features black carrot juice, and while the carrot flavor is noticeable if you focus your senses carefully, it mostly just gets lost in the acidic flavor of the rest of the drink. All things considered, the flavor does not speak of "relaxation" to me like many of the other relaxation beverages that I have tried and liked. Rather, it tastes like one would expect a "high-octane" energy drink to taste: aggressive, with a faint hint of trying too hard. While I don't necessarily mind aggressively flavored beverages, the sour acidity of Rhino's Relaxation became too much for me to tolerate towards the end of the drink, and I eventually found myself pouring out the last couple of ounces. 

As I have said before in my reviews, I usually don't experience the alterations in consciousness that many do when drinking these sorts of drinks, so I feel that it would be unfair for me to spend time criticizing the drink's ineffectiveness when I knew from the start that it was not likely to affect me. With this in mind, I will keep my discussion of the functionality simple. The drink's "relaxation cocktail" contains a mixture of valerian root extract, L-theanine, lemon balm extract, and chamomile extract. If you are like me and are not easily swayed by anything less than pharmaceutical-grade supplements, then this drink is not likely to do much to help you relax. However, if you have previously had positive experiences with any of the ingredients listed above, then Rhino's Relaxation will probably do the trick.

Overall, I'm afraid that I can't recommend Rhino's Relaxation. Although I really liked the design of the can, I just couldn't get used to the flavor long enough to enjoy the drink. If you are a fan of some of the more mainstream energy drinks and you don't mind highly acidic overtones in your drinks, then you may find a lot to like in Rhino's Relaxation. Otherwise, it would probably be best to just steer clear.

Verdict: Not recommended

Purchased: Bi-Lo [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 8.3 fl. oz. [250mL]
Price paid: $2.49


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