Review: Natural Jones Soda – Green Apple, Lemon Lime, Cherry, & Orange Mango


Back in March, we noticed that Jones Soda had quietly announced a new product line called Natural Jones. Advertised as containing just 30 calories, 5 g sugar, and 5 g fiber, it's time we took a look at the 4 debut flavors.

Natural Jones Soda - Green Apple, Lemon Lime, Cherry, & Orange Mango

Natural Jones Soda – Green Apple, Lemon Lime, Cherry, & Orange Mango

Per press materials, this product line is only available in California at the moment, and consists of Orange Mango Soda, Cherry Soda, Lemon Lime Soda, and Green Apple Soda. What kind of sweeteners are being used to lower the calories? Natural Jones features a combination of pure cane sugar, organic agave syrup, erythritol, and stevia.

The form factor of these products follows the traditional Jones Soda look, consisting of 12 oz glass, longneck bottles, large "Jones" logo, and photos on the label submitted by fans. The design follows the modernized Jones Soda style implemented a few years ago, with the word "Natural" in small type above the logo (not to be confused with the now-discontinued "Jones Natural" line of drinks). The most obvious observation with this collection is that every drink is clear with a slight yellow tint, no matter the flavor.

Each bottle offers the pitch for this new line of drinks:

They say too much of a good thing is… well, too much. Life's supposed to be about balance, you know? With this in mind, we stripped down to the bare essentials to create a delicious beverage unlike anything you've tasted before. Blending crisp, natural ingredients, 5 grams of fiber, and just 30 calories per bottle, we think you'll agree that balance can still taste great.

These low-calorie entries are different than the existing Jones Zilch line, and seem to have origin in Jones' never-launched Au Naturel water line from March 2012, which noted use of these same types of sweeteners.

Natural Jones Cherry Soda

Natural Jones Cherry Soda

Let's start with Natural Jones Cherry Soda, which features muted red label color. This clear drink gives off a candy-like scent when opened, reminding me of SweetTarts. Like most Jones Soda product, the flavor itself is on the sweet side, though the cherry isn't overpowering. It's subtle and refreshing. The alternate sweetener combos show up in aftertaste and are hard to miss. Slightly bitter, slightly chemical, leaving an artificial residue that sits on your tongue.

Natural Jones Green Apple Soda

Natural Jones Green Apple Soda

I love the smell given off by Natural Jones Green Apple Soda. It nails the sweet apple scent and creates a great mental visual. Reminds me of fall. Surprisingly, the apple flavor isn't as sweet as I expected it would be. It's more bitter from start to finish, with a bite sitting at the back of your throat the whole time. Think of a green apple that isn't in the freshest state. The sweetener combo is better integrated vs. Cherry Soda, but it's still quite noticeable. Curiously, Green Apple is the only entry in the Natural Jones lineup that does NOT contain erythritol.

Natural Jones Lemon Lime Soda

Natural Jones Lemon Lime Soda

Shifting our taste buds over to the bottle of Natural Jones Lemon Lime Soda, it's interesting that the label design is yellow. Usually, I associate green with lemon lime, but I guess that color was reserved for Green Apple Soda. Upon removing the cap, you are greeted with a 7Up/Sprite/Sierra Mist vibe by way of your nose. It smells light, but sweet. In fact, the scent may be a bit stronger than the mainstream flavors we typically associate with lemon lime. Upon sipping, right away I realize that I do not like this flavor at all. Carbonated cleaning solution, anyone? Typically, diet lemon lime drinks suffer the most because they can't do much to mask the flavors of various sweeteners. This Natural Jones iteration suffers from that fate, with the lemon lime flavor lost almost immediately by the chemical concoctions that offer a lower calorie count.

Natural Jones Orange Mango Soda

Natural Jones Orange Mango Soda

We wrap up our taste test with Natural Jones Orange Mango Soda. I really like the scent that comes out of the bottle upon opening; it's far more mango than orange, feeling tropical and exotic. This drink starts out subtle, with the mango-infused orange flavor slowly coming online about midway through the taste experience. It's not bad overall, though personally, the aftertaste really kills the pleasure in this drink. Still, with having to deal with that necessary evil, Orange Mango does a respectable job.

In case you haven't noticed by now, I'm not a huge fan of massive sweetener combinations, no matter how "natural" or "artificial" or whatever they claim to be. In the end, they detract from the overall flavor of the beverage. That said, carbonated soft drink sales continue to be on the decline, in part due to widening waistlines, so soft drink brands have to do something.

I'd view the Natural Jones line as their take on the mid-calorie experience tried by the likes of Pepsi Next and Dr Pepper Ten (and the other Tens). These drinks just don't taste right. Stevia is the hot sweetener of late, with its dubious claim to fame as being "natural." Agave syrup also has the buzz, but you aren't finding it in as many beverages as you'd expect. Aside from being impossible to pronounce, erythritol is a sugar alcohol that has some challenges with it comes to digestion. And then there's pure cane sugar, which is probably the easiest thing to understand about this whole combination.

It's also curious that Jones is debuting this natural line in just one state, California. What's the deal with that? I'd assume it has to do with production facilities and limited risk, but I also wonder if there are some legislative or nutritional restrictions that make that market an attractive one to try this product. For example, it's long been rumored that many of the new mid-calorie beverages help the big brands to comply with calorie restrictions that schools honor.

I'm sure some folks will welcome these new flavors and embrace them. I obviously don't. I like the idea behind Natural Jones, but just can't get beyond the negative taste experience. Isn't that the main reason we partake of these beverages in the first place?

Natural Jones Cherry Soda
Carbonated water, maltodextrin (dietary fiber), erythritol (natural sweetener), inverted cane sugar, natural flavors, organic agave syrup, citric acid, rebiana (stevia), natural caffeine, green tea leaf extract.

A 12 oz bottle contains 30 calories, 0 mg sodium, and 15 g carbs (5 g sugars).

Natural Jones Green Apple Soda
Carbonated water, maltodextrin (dietary fiber), inverted cane sugar, natural flavors, organic agave syrup, citric acid, rebiana (stevia), natural caffeine, green tea leaf extract.

A 12 oz bottle contains 30 calories, 5 mg sodium, and 10 g carbs (5 g sugars).

Natural Jones Lemon Lime Soda
Carbonated water, maltodextrin (dietary fiber), erythritol (natural sweetener), inverted cane sugar, natural flavors, organic agave syrup, citric acid, rebiana (stevia), natural caffeine, green tea leaf extract.

A 12 oz bottle contains 30 calories, 5 mg sodium, and 15 g carbs (5 g sugars).

Natural Jones Orange Mango Soda
Carbonated water, maltodextrin (dietary fiber), erythritol (natural sweetener), inverted cane sugar, natural flavors, organic agave syrup, citric acid, rebiana (stevia), natural caffeine, green tea leaf extract.

A 12 oz bottle contains 30 calories, 5 mg sodium, and 15 g carbs (5 g sugars).

Official Website: JonesSoda.com

Full Disclosure: These beverages were provided compliments of Jones Soda Co

Comments

  1. Limes with Orange was a scrumptious drink and should be taken out of retirement;-)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 4/30/13: BevReview has reviewed this new line of Natural Jones Sodas. However, for those interested, here is the official press release announcing the product [...]

  2. [...] Natural Jones is a low-calorie "natural" product line from Jones Soda, sweetened with pure cane sugar, organic agave syrup, erythritol, and stevia.  Available in Green Apple, Lemon Lime, Cherry, & Orange Mango flavors.  Read our review. [...]

Speak Your Mind

*