Sunday, July 20, 2008

Inked Chikara

7-11 has their own energy drink, called Inked. I hadn't known about it, but Chan found it and picked one up for me. I haven't seriously checked 7-11 for energy drinks, but seeing the kind of variety they have stocked, I'm looking there more often. Inked comes in an odd size, being 12oz, but shorter than other 12ozers and taller than a soda can. This looks like a quality beverage, judging from the professional-looking can design, although it's flavored artificially and is sweetened with HFCS. To gauge how sweet a drink's going to be, I'll look at the Nutrition Facts for the amount of sugar per 8oz. This is 12oz, so 46g sizes down to nearly 31g, which sounds like a lot, compared to Monster's 27 and Amp's 29. I don't know what's been going on, but a lot of these budget drinks are loaded with tons of sugar. Too much sugar makes the drink gummy and boring sooner. What an energy drink company will sometimes do to counteract this is add an emulsifier, that binds the ingredients together, like glycerol ester of wood rosin. Inked seems to use gum acacia and ester gum. I'll see how this goes.

I popped open the can expecting a sour grapefruit, but instead, it's a weaker and sweeter grapefruit smell. Actually, it smells pretty rich. I know it's artificial, but it smells very much like orange and grapefruit and maybe blood orange, with a tiny bit of bitter rind mixed in. There's a certain richness in there that makes me think of the Jolt Blue Raspberry, how it seemed a little bit like cotton candy. The color is bright chartruce-yellow, like lemon Gatorade and it's slightly opaque, rather than totally clear. The carbonation is moderate and doesn't get in the way too much. Tasting it, the same grapefruit-blood orange flavor comes through with less bitterness and more sourness coming from the citric acid. I can taste just a little of that irritating sour bitterness that you commonly get from other grapefruit drinks, like Squirt, but it's very little. Despite the 31g of sugar, this doesn't taste too sweet, and with the carbonation, it's almost not sweet enough, which definitely isn't good. I don't feel any troublesome gumminess accumulating; the very small amount of gumminess this leaves behind is easily manageable. I'd call this a simple budget grapefruit taste that's not half bad, although I'd probably prefer orange juice over this.

On ingredients, Inked doesn't do too bad. This is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, which gave a dull sweetness instead of the bright kind you'd get with cane sugar. Right away, you see taurine in the ingredients after HFCS, which could mean that there's a lot in here, though there's no sure way of knowing because the can doesn't list the amounts. Then, there's citric acid, D-glucuronolactone, sodium citrate, natural and artificial flavor, caffeine, potassium benzoate, gum acacia, inositol, ester gum, and vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12. I see most of the usual energy ingredients except for ginseng and guarana. I'm convinced now that those two energy ingredients are more expensive than most other ones because they were not in the Loop, another budget energy drink. The kick this gave was not phenomenal, but just all right. I would call this a pretty basic grapefruit-flavored energy drink; nothing too special.

Taste: 7.8 - Better-than-average natural/artificial grapefruit taste
Kick: 6.7 - Nothing too special, probably from the absence of guarana and ginseng
Overall: 7.4 - Just a basic grapefruit energy drink

Reviewed by: Jeff

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Jeffery "Jeff," Chandler "Chan"