Review: Aqua -- Is it Water or Soda?

Posted: Oct 26, 2016 at 11:45 AM (Last Updated: Oct 26, 2016 at 3:45 PM)

Covers Products: Java, Kola, Mocha

Produced by Don Sebastiani & Sons, a California-based vintner, Aqua is a line of reduced calorie flavored sparkling waters. Their entry into this increasingly crowded space features a unique flavor set, including Java, Kola, and Mocha.

To give a point of reference, DRY Sparkling is the product line that’s most similar to what Aqua is currently offering. For sweetness, Aqua has opted for a blend of sugar and erythritol instead of straight sugar. As a result, the product has a level of sweetness that’s closer (albeit slightly) to a soda than a flavored water. However, it has only 20 calories and 5g of sugar per bottle,and, fortunately, you can’t taste the erythritol.

When it comes to the flavors, these, too, are reminiscent of a soda line. Here’s the rundown of the three:

  • Kola -- Our favorite of the bunch, Kola is a really nice take on a classic cola, but in sparkling water form. It’s made with kola nut and has a much cleaner ingredient list than a standard cola typically does.

  • Java -- As the name implies, this variety is a coffee flavor. There is a very subtle coffee flavor to it, which is enhanced by a very nice coffee aroma. Still, we’re not quite sure how we feel about drinking a coffee flavored water.

  • Mocha -- The third and final offering is described as having “caramel aromas with dark chocolate undertones of bitter sweetness.” But for us, the product is only slightly different from its Java counterpart and we wish it had a more pronounced chocolate flavor.

On the packaging front, the use of a 12 oz. glass bottle definitely fits with a more assertively flavored offering. This will help it not be confused with an unflavored or unsweetened offering, but we’re not quite sure how we feel about the branding, which is Spanish for “water” and, therefore, further reinforces the concept of this being water. While in theory it’s probably better to align with water than soda, it’s a bit confusing and requires you to stop and examine the product.

Overall, Aqua is a visually appealing product that delivers a refreshing, low-calorie, and full bodied flavor experience. But the messaging and positioning make us wonder if it’s being forced into a category where it doesn’t quite belong.

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