”Is there booze in it?” wonders our taste tester.

Starbucks is taking a bit of a risk with the release of its newest Japan-exclusive Frappuccino. Not just because the chain is releasing it on Friday the 13th, but because the marquee ingredient is something many people in Japan are totally unfamiliar with.

“Butterscotch? Is that, like, some kind of scotch whisky?” asked Masami, our Japanese-language reporter and regular Frappuccino taste tester. But once she did some Googling and learned that butterscotch is made from brown sugar and butter, and that the completely non-alcoholic Butterscotch Coffee Jelly Frappuccino is something she could knock back in the middle of her workday without getting tipsy, she was out the door and on her way to the nearest Starbucks.

After paying for 590-yen (US$5.70) tall size (and receiving her change on a tray), Masami took a moment to look over the mysterious newcomer.

Generously drizzled across the whipped cream topping was a golden, gooey smoked butterscotch sauce, which trickles down into the milk and blended-ice base of the drink. Finally, hanging out at the bottom of the cup is a serving of coffee gelatin.

As mentioned above, when Masami first heard the word “butterscotch” her mind had zeroed in on the “scotch” part, but as she took her first sip, it was the intense butter flavor that grabbed her attention.

This is one of the stronger flavored, heavier feeling Frappuccinos Starbucks Japan has released this year, not that that’s a bad thing.

As she continued sipping and the various ingredients’ flavors came together on her taste buds, Masami suddenly had the sensation of spotting a familiar face from home in an exotic foreign land. “The flavor is sort of like purin,” she reports, referring to Japanese-style custard pudding served with a caramel sauce, since the Butterscotch Coffee Jelly Frappuccino delivers a combination of sweet, creamy, and pleasantly bitter notes.

So while it wasn’t anything like she’d expected when she first heard the name, Masami was thoroughly satisfied by this expansion of her palate/sweet tooth. After all, if people from outside Japan have learned to love matcha sweets, surely there’s room for butterscotch in the country, right?

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