Review: Amp Energy Lightning


Last March, in their bid to increase marketshare for their energy drink Amp, PepsiCo released 3 new flavors that joined the traditional Dew-inspired original and its cherry-spinoff Overdrive. These flavors were the grape Amp Energy Traction, berry-inspired Amp Energy Elevate, and orange-infused Amp Energy Relaunch.

Amp Energy Lightning

Well, the folks at Amp are at it again with 3 new flavors in 2009. Amp Energy with Green Tea, Amp Energy with Black Tea, and the subject of today’s review, the lemonade-flavored Amp Energy Lightning. Unlike the previous flavor extensions which seemed to have roots in existing Pepsi products (Mountain Dew Pitch Black, Pepsi Blue, and Mountain Dew LiveWire, respectively), these new flavors offer something new in the Amp Energy lineup.

When you crack open a 16 oz. can of Amp Energy Lightning, you’ll notice right away the lemony, bubbly scent. Think about a Mountain Dew that had a lot more lemon in it and you’ll probably get the right idea. The color is yellow-ish, but not quite as nuclear as say a Jones Soda Candy Corn flavor.

As far as taste, I was pleasantly surprised. Typically, lemon-flavored drinks haven’t done so well, especially the colas such as Diet Coke with Lemon and Pepsi Twist (and the reborn Pepsi Lemon NFL Kickoff). You’ll often find associations made with cleaning products such as Pledge when describing these lemon drinks. Contrastly, there have been some positive limited edition lemon releases in the past few years, including Sierra Mist Lemon Squeeze and Jones Soda Lemon Drop Dead.

I’d put Amp Energy Lightning in the latter category, as I thought it was quite good. It was carbonated like a traditional soft drink, and definitely shared roots with Mountain Dew. The lemon flavor skewed more towards the lemonade side of things, which I appreciated, and the aftertaste wasn’t bad like most energy drinks. Given that the Amp line is probably more closely aligned with standard soda flavors, this fit right in. I appreciate that the Amp drinks don’t have all the negative connotations that you’d typically find with Red Bull, Monster, and Full Throttle.

Like the other Amp Energy line extensions, the supplements are also featured along with the flavor as part of the marketing angle, helping to define a purpose for the beverage. In the case of Amp Energy Lightning, that purpose is “Charge”, accomplished with the addition of L-Carnitine, which helps in the generation of metabolic energy.

Like the original Amp Energy and Amp Energy Overdrive, Amp Energy Lightning contains ginseng (17 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 10 mg), taurine (148 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 10 mg), guarana (124 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 150 mg), and B vitamins. It also features maltodextrin (74 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 55 mg) and about the same amount of sodium (70 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 65 mg, Amp Traction’s 70 mg, Amp Elevate’s 65 mg, Amp Relaunch’s 110 mg).

Amp Energy Lightning contains more caffeine than the original Amp Energy and Amp Energy Overdrive, breaking down to 10 mg/oz., in comparison to Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 8.875 mg/oz. (Standard Mountain Dew contains 4.5 mg/oz., while Red Bull has 9.64 mg/oz. and Monster clocks in with 10.00 mg/oz.)

A full ingredient list is as follows:

Amp Energy Lightning
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural and artificial flavor, taurine, guarana seed extract, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), sodium hexametaphosphate (to protect flavor), L-carnitine, gum arabic, caffeine, maltodextrin, glycerol ester of rosin, niacinamide, panax ginseng root extract, calcium pantothenate, calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor), Yellow 5, riboflavin

The can design follows the same pattern established with last year’s rollout of Amp Energy Traction, Amp Energy Elevate, and Amp Energy Relaunch. The color scheme is yellow and black, reflecting the lemon flavor, with a callout to the “Lightning” flavor under the familiar “Amp Energy” name and icon.

Last year we saw the beginning of Pepsi distancing Amp from the Mountain Dew brand (which it was founded on) in the hopes of building its own identity and positioning. The small “Mountain Dew” logo which used to appear in monochrome on the lower-right portion of the front label is now gone completely, leaving no traces of this beverage to its Dew heritage.

Text under the secondary logo panel lays out the following:

Charge up your intensity.

The power of Amp Energy plus lemonade flavor and a specially formulated blend of L-Carnitine, Guarana, and B-Vitamins for an explosive energizing bolt.

Amp Energy Lightning – More Power To You

As is the tradition with other Amp Energy beverages, the pulltab reflects the primary color of the can, in this case… yellow.

Overall, I really liked Amp Energy Lightning. The flavor did not taste horribly like cleaning solution, but rather provided a peppy, bubbly lemonade experience. It lacks the negative aftertaste typically associated with energy drinks, which is a huge plus. This is a solid addition to the Amp Energy lineup and recommended.