Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Graft! Word of Mouth Accepts the Gift of Water

I often receive offers of products for review, and occasionally restaurant freebies. I have always turned them down. For one thing, I only rarely do product reviews, and in those cases it's because I've been inspired by an admiration I've long had for that product, like Almondina or Ak-Mak. As far as restaurant offers are concerned, I think it's unethical to accept a free meal in return for a review. Besides, my guess is that any restaurant that would resort to offering a free meal to a humble blogger is probably worth steering clear of.

Occasionally I'll alert companies or restaurants when I do write favorably about them. Recently, after I wrote my piece about non-alcoholic gin, I sent the link to Metromint, as their lemon mint water was part of my recipe. I received a response from Evan at Metromint, a gin drinker too, who offered to send me some samples to use while "refining the recipe." I accepted, as I was interested in tasting the flavors I had not yet tried. I didn't know whether I'd write a piece specifically about Metromint, but after tasting all the flavors I decided I'd give a rundown, as the sample pack turned out to be quite a mixed bag, ranging from excellent to undrinkable.

Peppermint. One of two pure mint flavors, this has a crisp, cool, strong but not overwhelming peppermint flavor. It's very refreshing, and I think it's a great summer drink. From sip to swallow, there's a consistency of flavor. I had actually tried this one before, but I was sure that the peppermint flavor was too bold to use for my faux gin experiments.

Spearmint. I was surprised how much I liked this, as in general I don't really like spearmint, at least when sweetened, as in Wrigley's spearmint gum. But they really got the right balance for this, resulting in a flavor that has a clean, sophisticated presence. It also turned out to be a good base for my non-alcoholic gin.

Lemonmint. The lemon and mint flavors go together very well, and there's a freshenss combined with oomph that I really like. I've been drinking this water since the summer. I was intrigued when I saw it on the shelf, expecially since it had no artificial sweeteners, as most fruit waters on the shelves seem to. In Europe I've had all sorts of wonderful unsweetened fruit-flavored waters (Vittel makes some), so I know it can be done.

Orangemint. This was a disappointment. Even though the orange flavoring is natural, this drink, like most orange-flavored seltzers and mineral waters, reminds me of the flavor of St. Joseph's Aspirin for Children.

Chocolatemint. I was both intrigued by and skeptical about this flavor. How could they pull off an unsweetened chocolate-mint water? Well, I'd say the result is an interesting failure. The water has a credible chocolate-mint nose, if a water can be said to have a "nose," but as it hits the palate and goes down the throat you're abruptly hit by an almost pure water flavor that's rather jarring. The chocolate and mint flavors come back a bit as an aftertaste, but this lack of smooth flavor transition makes it ultimately unsatisfying. I suspect that this is a product that many will pick up out of curiosity, but I doubt it will gain many adherents.

Cherymint. This is truly the most vile drink I've tasted since I don't know when. If the company were smart they'd either pull it from the market or drastically change the recipe. If this were the first Metromint flavor I had tried, I would never have tried another. As with all their fruit flavors, they list the fruit ingredient as "essence." I don't know what kind of cherries they get this essence from, and I don't know if the real crime is the combination of the cherry and mint flavors, but on first taste my first thought was poison! I could imagine this being the flavor of some kind of solvent, or maybe rat poison. Or maybe it was the almost bitter almond-like taste of the cherry essence that made me think of cyanide. After a few more sips, just to make sure it really was that bad, I poured the rest of the bottle down the drain. Metromint needs to convene a tasting panel or a focus group posthaste.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,
Glad to hear you received the samples and thanks so much for the feedback! We're glad that you enjoyed some of the varieties of Metromint and appreciate your writing of us.

Happy Holidays,

Soma Beverage

4:02 PM  

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