The standard version was a hit with our taste-tester, but how will this new no-sugar version perform?

Among out Japanese-language reporting staff, Ahiruneko is the member of the team who most enjoys a good, strong drink. So last year when Coca-Cola Japan started selling canned cocktails of their signature cola mixed with Jack Daniels whiskey, he was a happy guy. As a matter of fact he felt like “Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola,” as the drink is called, tasted even better than mixing a Jack and Coke himself.

So when Coca-Cola Japan rolled out a new version of the drink on Monday, Ahiruneko rushed out to grab a can and try it for himself. Called Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, the new version is a mixture of the Tennessee whiskey and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, the company’s no-sugar, no-calories cola is called in Japan.

Of course, Ahiruneko would need to first compare Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to the preexisting Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola, and then to mixing his own glass of starting-off-separate Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. This was the only way to properly conduct a thorough flavor evaluation, and also the best excuse for Ahiruneko to have three drinks while working.

Starting off with the Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola…

…and chasing it with the Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar made the difference quickly apparent. With the Zero Sugar version, the non-sugar sweeteners have, to Ahiruneko’s palate, a certain trace bitterness to them. Judged solely on first-sip impressions, he felt like the regular Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola has a higher-quality taste.

But as he continued to sip them, his impressions evolved. The regular Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola started to feel sweeter and sweeter. If he’d been drinking it on its own it probably wouldn’t have been so noticeable, but drinking them back-to-back made the regular Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola start to feel kind of cloying, and by comparison the Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar let the drink’s other flavors have more space on his taste buds.

Then it was time to mix his own cocktail from a bottle of Jack Daniels and one of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

Ahiruneko used a ratio of one part of Jack Daniels to three parts of Coke. Ordinarily he’d have dropped in an ice cube, but to limit the number of variables in the taste test, he skipped the ice in his self-made cocktail.

Compared to the canned Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Ahiruneko’s self-made drink was especially fragrant, with more noticeable aromas of both the whiskey and bitterness-inside-sweetness of the cola.

The even bigger difference, though, was in how refreshing each was. Between the two, the canned Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar felt far fresher and fizzier than Ahiruneko’s self-made drink, and the individual flavors of the whiskey and cola were much more smoothly blended too.

Maybe the results would have been different with a professional bartender making the drink, but with Ahiruneko’s non-mixology-master-level skills, he was happier with the flavor of the canned Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, and after mulling things over, he’s come to the conclusion that he likes it even better, overall, than the standard canned Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola. At 210 yen (US$1.40), it’s a little on the expensive side compared to other canned cocktails in Japan, but it’s still a price he’s happy to pay for something that tastes this good.

Photos © SoraNews24
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