There comes a time in a beverage reviewer’s life when they get excited about something because the concept, principles, and taste just seem so “right”. That is how I felt when I recently drank a bottle of Boylan Bottleworks Black Cherry from the Boylan Bottling Company. This stuff is good. I’ll say it right now… you should support this product line.
My wife bought a 4-Pack of this drink during a recent visit to Trader Joe’s. Surprisingly, I had never heard of Boylan. Here is how the company talks about itself on the packaging:
The Boylan Bottling Co., founded in 1891, is honored to share very similar beginnings with the carbonated beverages of the same era that are now world-famous. Bit it is our differences of today of which we are most proud. For more than a century, Boylan has formulated and produced, regardless of cost, only “authentic soda-pop”, unlike most bottlers in the country who have over the years compromised their original recipes and cut costs by switching to corn syrup and plastic bottles.
Boylan still uses pure cane sugar which enhances the true flavor rather than leave a syrupy aftertaste and thick glass bottles to ensure freshness and proper levels of carbonation. Our in-house flavor formulations use the most expensive extracts and essences — and plenty of them. So whether you’re drinking a Boylan because you appreciate what is good and made right or just trying one for the first time, we thank you for supporting one of the oldest bottling companies and its authentic beverages of a bygone era.
The company is based out of Haledon, NJ, and is still family owned and operated. From what I can tell, they handle their own distribution, thus resulting in the products being somewhat hard to find nationally. They actually have several product lines. The flagship is their Birch Beer, which they’ve been making the longest. They also have a unique line called Seltzer, which are no calorie and no carb, but also don’t use artificial sweeteners. They have a line called “The Natural Kind” that is marketed to organic/natural supermarkets. And finally, their multiflavor Bottleworks line, which is what our Black Cherry Soda calls home.
When Amy and I first tried this drink, our reaction was… and I quote, “Wow! Yummy! Ahhh!” Interestingly, it actually tasted somewhat like Dr Pepper, also a personal favorite. The carbonation was not overwhelming, unlike most drinks from the Big 3 today (that’s Coke, Pepsi, and Cadbury Schweppes in case you were wondering). The bubbles added just enough “umph” to bring out the flavor. And that flavor was excellent. A little sweet, good body, rich and bold. Here’s how this flavor is described on the 4-Pack packaging:
At first we had developed a California-type black cherry; fruity with berryish notes. It was good but not exceptional. So our focus turned toward a traditional black cherry soda, one that would be hearty and flavorful, and could be enjoyed with lunch and not “get lost”. Boylan Bottleworks Black Cherry’s deep flavor comes from a blend of different cherries along with other proprietary ingredients. Older customers tell us that it is reminiscent of what Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry tasted like 40 years ago.
I took note of the mention that this drink “could be enjoyed with lunch and not ‘get lost’.” This is the exact issue I noted when I reviewed Dr. Pepper’s now-discontinued Red Fusion (and in some ways, Pepsi Blue… also gone from the market).
Overall, this drink is very enjoyable. And it’s Kosher (who needs to wait for Kosher for Passover Coke each year?) It’s admirable that real cane sugar is used in this beverage. It really does make a difference. You can taste it. When the mainstream companies are claiming that some of their new offerings are “natural” (such as the relaunched 7Up — which really isn’t natural at all), it’s nice to see a small firm actually pulling it off with success.
Way to go Boylan!