Bottom Line at the Top: we can be a bit pretentious around flavored spirits. We like drinking aged spirits and we often drink them with just a little ice or sometimes neat. We don't like sweet spirits very often. For all that, we especially disliked these new flavors from Smirnoff. We can't imagine finding them appealing to anyone... certainly not to snobs like us but not even to party-goers.The flavors don't work, they're not sour, and they're not pleasant to drink. Moreover, it's hard to imagine them being aimed at adults. This is too bad because many of the Smirnoff flavors (particularly their honey flavor, which we found very tasty and endorsed) are successful.
We firmly believe that the vodka category is overburdened with flavors. If the different, exotic flavors weren't enough to convince you of the madness of overabundance, then the press release from Diageo that mentions 36 other flavors in addition to the 3 introduced in the "sour" category should. Did the world need more flavored vodkas? Do they believe that we're going to have even a quarter of those flavors in our cabinet? It is with some trepidation and fatigue that we approach these bottles, though colorful and gorgeous they might be.
And for the marketing, we give a tip of the hat. The bottles stand out amongst the rest of bottles with brightly colored sparkles and just scream "SHOT" right from the shelf. In a sea of solemn glass, they're like the club gear or red carpet dress. We can see this being a big draw for revelers out looking for a good time or gallant boys trying to buy a round for the table. One wants to buy these when feeling a little nightclub-ish.
The Fruit Punch
We first approach the reddish/pinkish hued Fruit Punch. It is not the scarlet red of Kool-Aid but rather the a kind of pink-tinged red that's hard to describe and more neon than natural. It does, however, smell exactly like Fruit Punch Kool-Aid. Or maybe Jello-O. It smells like nothing an adult would drink and doesn't carry a hint of sour on the nose. You could fill a jugs of this at a pre-teen birthday party and no one would know the difference until the kids began to sicken and the cops arrived.
Tasting neat, it's not exactly unpleasant as a sipper. But it's very sweet and the sour isn't so much sour as kind of bitter on the follow through. There is no fruit that one can put voice to... perhaps a bit of cherry or a kind of medicinal strawberry but really just the flavor "red."
But it's designed as a chilled shooter so chill it and shoot it we did. The chill and dilution smooths out the bitter aftertaste and makes it taste even more like fruit punch than real fruit punch. Not sour fruit punch... just fruit punch. We suppose this would be appealing for people who want to take shots of something that doesn't taste remotely like alcohol but it still tastes disappointingly like something you'd get served in a dixie cup in daycare at great peril of staining your clothes red. We don't expect much of a post-shot sour face, which is part of the social marketing ploy around the stuff.
The Watermelon flavor is more of a breast-cancer awareness shade of pink. It smells almost exactly like Juice Fruit gum... maybe it resembles some kind of watermelon in some kind of lab but all we're getting is Juice Fruit. As crazy as it sounds, this is even less enticing than the Kool-Aid version of Fruit Punch on the nose. There may be a touch of sour in there, though.
On the palate it's even sweeter but then finishes—at least in sipping—exactly like medicine. Exactly. Comparing alcohol to cough syrup is about as cliche in spirits tasting as saying "it's smooth" but, for the first time, we actually mean it. Tasting side by side with cherry flavored cough syrup it would be very difficult to tell the difference.
Chilling as a shot, again the intended use, makes it no better. It might make it worse. It becomes simply a sugar bomb with an acrid finish. We like our fair share of sour candies... there's none of that sourness here. It's just bitter, awfulness.
We didn't get a chance to try the kryptonite green apple expression.
[Disclaimer: we were provided with two 750ml bottles, one of the watermelon and one of the fruit punch, for review purposes.]