It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a cola, so when I ventured out into the wilds and found myself in a Kroger I was hopeful. On the far end of the soda aisle, where the “fancy” sodas live, I saw a grouping of Private Selection brand beverages. Private Selection is a Kroger brand, but they do a good job keeping their name off the bottle and go with a simple, elegant design. Fortunately for me one of the Private Selection sodas is a cola, specifically Bourbon Barrel Cola.
Per the bottle, this cola is “enhanced with natural bourbon flavor with a crisp finish”. That alone seems intriguing to me; let’s read off this fairly short ingredient list: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Tartaric Acid, Caramel Color, and Natural Flavor. While I’ll save my gripes for the always vague “Natural Flavor”, I like this list and will no longer put off tasting this soda.
The aroma sort of oozes out of the top of the bottle. It’s a bit of a struggle to get a good whiff actually. What I can smell does have hints of bourbon and cola. It’s always nice to have the flavors listed on the label in attendance, even if just in the scent.
Whoa. I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting this to taste like bourbon, but I wasn’t. Let me be upfront with you, I don’t drink much alcohol. I’ve maybe, MAYBE, had bourbon once. I just don’t like the taste of alcoholic beverages in general. That said, to the untrained tongue this tastes like bourbon cola. It’s both smoky and woodsy. Smoky and woodsy are two words I’ve heard people say when talking about bourbon on television... probably. I don’t think I’ve ever had a “smoky” cola before, but this certainly qualifies as one. By the way, Smoky Cola sounds like a soda in a video game.
It doesn’t really have a bite nor is it smooth, the taste is truly unique to my palate. The finish is fairly crisp, as the bottle said it would be, but doesn’t fully escape the original taste you experienced. That initial taste brought snacks, a Gameboy, and a stack of comic books. He’s in it for the long haul. Thankfully though he knows when the destination has been reached and gets out of the car, leaving minimal aftertaste.
All that said, I’m not big on this bourbon taste, but I have to say I’m genuinely excited. This is a “store brand” soda that some real effort was put into. Kroger could have just made a cane sugar sweetened cola and called it a day, but they didn’t. As big as they are they took a chance and made something unique that will be appreciated by a niche audience. After drinking Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Cola I’m more than prepared to try the remaining flavors of the lineup.
Verdict - Buy a Pack
This was purchased at Kroger