In December 2004, word started leaking that Coke was about to launch a new competitor to Mountain Dew (following up Surge and various Mello Yello relaunches). That product is called Vault, and it started being test marketed over the summer in Alabama, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
It’s been important for Coke to keep trying to chip away at Pepsi’s Mountain Dew brand. According to Beverage Digest, “over the first nine months of 2004, Mountain Dew was the only major non-diet brand that grew in sales. In 2003, Americans bought 638.7 million cases of Mountain Dew, making it the fourth-most-popular brand in the country.”
Thanks to my friend Eric Childs, who lives in Michigan, I was able to personally experience Vault. He provided me with a bottle over this past weekend. I had read what others were saying about the drink, and even checked out his own review, but I was anxious to try this myself.
This review also inaugurates the new Tannerman “beverage review tree”, given that Amy and I are now living at a new location. But I’ll always have a warm spot in my heart for that first beverage review tree.
But I digress. Let’s talk about Vault!
The packaging is very attractive, with a plastic bottle the resembles that which you might find with Gatorade. The bottle itself is imprinted with Vault’s “V” logo. Vault proclaims on the label that it “drinks like a soda, kicks like an energy drink.” Believe it or not, that awkward phrase is actually trademarked by Coke. Whatever. I like the green/yellow/black color scheme quite a bit, and the Vault logo is simple, yet effective.
Upon opening the cap, I took a whiff of the beverage. The first scent I could correlate it to was that cheap orange drink that McDonald’s provides to non-profits. I know I’ve have my share of that stuff from church events growing up. And frankly, it always tasted watered down and lame, which didn’t bode well for my mental judgment of Vault.
The taste? Sweet, somewhat like Mountain Dew, but not quite. There really wasn’t much of an aftertaste. It’s like the drink flavor is there… and then it just stops. And I couldn’t get that McDonald’s Orange Drink scent out of my head. The flavor was less citrus-y than Mello Yello, but still tolerable. Overall, there was quite a bit of fakeness in the taste. On the plus side, the drink doesn’t make you belch too much. Also, for those looking at staying awake, you’ll be happy to know that Vault has 70.5 mg of caffeine per 12 oz. serving (compared to 55.0 mg for Mountain Dew). Yikes!
Overall impression? Nice try Coke, but you’ll never beat Mountain Dew with this product.