Kirin has launched an imprint called 世界のkitchenから, or "From the World's Kitchen." (Warning: Flash and sound heavy site.) The imprint (sub-label, sub-brand, whatever) produces sodas based on cocktails from around the world. This week, my wife and I tried the new Mint Julep Soda.
According to the advertisements, Kirin based their soda around the idea of mint and lemongrass, choosing those as the key flavors from the traditional Cuban cocktail. And, indeed, the soda has a strong mint and lemon taste, with enough fizz to make it feel like a soda yet without the bitter aftertaste of alcohol. However, it was not sweet. Perhaps it was due to a misconception on my part as I know that soda does not necessarily equal sweet, but the mint juleps I have had were based around bourbon and sugar and therefore, fairly sweet for a cocktail.
This is the only real problem I had with the soda – I felt it was misnamed. To begin, I had always thought of a Mint Julep as being a Southern U.S. cocktail. The name brings to mind images of men in white suits and straw hats at the racetrack, at least for me. Also, I feel strongly that bourbon based cocktails are fairly sweet. The absence of any sweet taste in the soda was problematic for me. My wife, however, who has never had a Mint Julep cocktail found the taste quite nice. She felt the sour taste was like, well, a citrus sour. And I agree, the soda does taste a lot like a sour, which is not a Mint Julep.
Having said all that, naming aside, expectations aside, it is a nice, slightly sour, heavy lemon taste, slight mint aftertaste soda. All in all, it's a nice, light, summery soda. I just can't help wishing it was closer in taste to a proper Mint Julep.