Friday, November 14, 2008
It's been a while since I reviewed my last energy drink, partly because I've been busy and partly because I felt like I was becoming a bit tolerant of the common energy ingredients. So I took a break and caught up on other activities while I continued to scour the markets for new drinks. Well, lucky me, somehow I obtained the Inked Maori. I remember the Inked Chikara, a drink that turned out to be quite tasty and good for the price. Inked is 7-11's own brand of energy drink and comes in grapefruit/orange, dubbed Chikara, and Maori, which I have here. At the moment, I'm curious about the flavor. Chikara had a red color to the word and emblem, while Maori has a luxurious indigo. However, the background is the same delightful gradient from orange to yellow. I'm going to attempt to get the best idea of how this drink will taste based on the ingredients. Per 12oz can, I see 47g of sugar, which comes out to just over 31g of sugar per 8oz. Back in the early days of Canned Reviews, I would call this a very sugary drink, but in recent times, I've seen quite a large number of drinks with a sugar level this high, so in these times, I'd call it about average, yet on the sweet side. I'm excited to find out.
Hearing the can open was a delightful sound I've missed. I immediately went in for a whiff and found myself unable to immediately describe the smell. What's true, however, is that I did find myself thinking of the color blue, so I suppose the emblem fits the flavor. Trying to fit the smell together, all I can describe it as is a Monster clone with that common "bubble-gum" energy drink flavor lingering in the background faintly. At this point, I can only imagine the color being a dark or light amber. What interested me but did not surprise me in the least was a pleasant light fluorescent amber with a chartruce glow to it, which seems to fit the brightness and depth to the smell. Another smell, from the cup, this time, makes me think vividly of another drink I remember having many times before - possibly one of the many Monster clones I've had in my time, but not a Monster exactly. Sipping this, Inked's take on a Monster starts out strong with a pleasant fruity and sugary flavor until it turns sour while the carbonation overcomes the flavor. At the end of each sip, I'm left unsatisfied with more of a sour taste in my mouth than a sweet taste. And what I find to be true after at least 3 sips is some brutal gumminess rivaled only by Sunny D and Capri Sun, two childhood drinks I wish I weren't reminded of. This is not your petty, harmless gumminess you experience in a quality drink like Monster or Rockstar, but rather something common in your second-rate drinks loaded with HFCS. This is the kind of gumminess you'll be occupied with trying to remove with great effort. However, each time I take a sip of this, I have to admit it gets tastier every time. The sourness fades slowly each sip and the carbonation is less of a problem after about halfway through the can. I suppose you could call this another one of those drinks that isn't terribly addicting but very tasty with infrequent sips. This flavor, if you require an explanation, could be called berry, however it won't make you think "berry" right away, as many budget drinks do not. Overall, I have a mixed opinion of this drink; I recognize its strength as a cheaper drink, but its weaknesses turn me off, such as the gumminess, troublesome carbonation, and unbalanced sweetness.
Now, although I wasn't all that pleased with the flavor of Inked Maori, the kick is something I hadn't expected. This 7-11-brand budget drink manages to provide some very nice energy, rivaling that of a Rockstar. Having this near 5PM, my energy level was moderately high without any jitters whatsoever, which I liked very much and which is good if you need a steady hand while gaming. This steady boost lasted for a good 5 hours, which is more that what I expect from an energy drink. I don't well remember what ingredients the Inked Chikara had, but I'll be examining the Maori's ingredients quite closely this time.
Inked Maori's ingredient list is as follows: Carbonated Water, HFCS, Malic Acid, Taurine, Sodium Citrate, D-Glucuronolactone, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Caffeine, Potassium Benzoate (a preservative), Inositol, Niacinimide (Vitamin B3), Caramel Color, D-Calcium Pantothenate (B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6), Yellow 5, Red 40, Cyanocobalamin (B12).
Examining that ingredients list, I see the basic and average energy drink ingredient list. HFCS is a staple of an average drink, a cheaper sweetener made from corn that isn't nearly as bright as pure cane sugar. Per can, there are 47g of the stuff, which means just over 31g per 8oz serving, what I typically gauge sweetness levels by. As for the energy ingredients, there's no way of knowing exactly how much Caffeine, D-Glucuronolactone, Inositol, or Taurine is in here, but considering Caffeine's position in the middle of the list, I'd guess that it's about average (80-100mg/8oz), which could explain why I didn't get the jitters from this drink. That smaller amount is less than what my body has become used to, and thus it has less of an effect. However, to someone who only has energy drinks occasionally, this amount could possibly be enough to yield the jitters. That's what you have to be careful with when you're dealing with energy drinks. What may give one person loads of energy may do nothing for the next. So before you have an energy drink, I advise you assess your Caffeine tolerance. Anyway, all I can say for this drink's kick is it seems to be designed for longer, more steady energy than a quick burst unlike many drinks I've encountered recently.
Taste: 7.5 - A decent take on the common "Monster clone" flavor with its ups and downs
Kick: 8.2 - I appreciate the longer, sustained energy
Overall: 7.8 - Worked for me, someone with a high caffeine tolerance who needs the concentration
Reviewed by: Jeff