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Taste of the Caribbean: Call Me Crazy, But I Love Malta India

Taste of the Caribbean: Call Me Crazy, But I Love Malta India
Malta India bien fría/SBPR

When it comes to fostering a taste and appreciation among my kids for all the treats and traditions I enjoyed while growing up in the Caribbean, my wonderful U.S.-born wife is good with all of it – all the exotic foods, offbeat traditions, music, folktales; everything!

Everything, that is, except this drink.

This, dear reader, is Malta India, and unlike Ting, LLB, and just about every other soda we’ve told you about before, this bad boy from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico is decidedly NOT for everyone. Of all the West Indian food and drink products I’ve introduced to my wife over the years, I’m pretty sure this is the only one she actually spit out. Just the sight of a six pack of Malta India in our fridge makes her shudder to this day. If she were writing this review, it would be one word long. That word:

Bleah!

Compared to other online soda reviewers, that one word would actually be kind.

WeirdSodaReview.com:

It tastes like someone made beer out of prune juice.

SodaGiant.com:

It smells like old, funky, nasty laundry.

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion (especially my wife!), but I couldn’t disagree more about Malta India. Maybe I’m crazy, but I grew up with this stuff; I loved it then and I still love it now!

But, the real question is will you love it, or even give it a try? Next time you find yourself stopping off at some convenience store somewhere in the Caribbean, will you go with my gut and pick up a bottle, or will you follow my wife’s advice, and that of most every other soda reviewer anywhere?

Here are three reasons why you might be inclined to go with “them”…

  1. Smell: Of course, I don’t think Malta India smells like some old laundry, but it doesn’t smell like roses either. It has a strong and very distinctive aroma that’s heavy and very sweet, like a beer in mid-production, which, in fact, is what a malt soft drink is.
  2. Looks: The first time I poured one of these for my wife, she said it looked like motor oil. I gotta’ admit, she’s right. Malta India is super-thick and unbelievably dark. How dark? Pour some in a glass. Hold it up to the sun. Take a look. Don’t worry about your eyes; light will not pass through.
  3. Taste: If you like your soft drinks light and refreshing, then keep walking. Malta India is syrupy and ultra-sweet, packing 21g of sugar per each 12oz bottle. That’s less than Coke, Sprite and energy drinks like this one, but the thickness of Malta India makes it seem much sweeter, and much more filling.

Hmmm… That doesn’t leave much on my side of the argument, now does it?

Trust me, though, these “small” and “superficial” flaws pale in comparison to the rich, satisfying flavor of an ice-cold Malta India. If you’re partial to rich stout beers, or you want a soda that drinks like a meal, then Malta India may just be right for you.

¡Salud!

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  • uncommoncarib

    Good stuff. Naturally, I love Malta India, too!

  • Nazluma

    iAy Dios Mio! I have not had a Malta in years. The childhood memories of an ice cold slushy malta, the beautiful brown frothy head foaming to the top and slurping it up before it oozed down your bottle and hand, the cold bitter sweet taste in your mouth…aaaahhhhh que rico! I need to get one…ahora!

  • Katrose747

    hey this site blows my tiny lil mind!!  but vita malt got it all over malta india, sorry

    • uncommoncarib

      Thanks! But I gotta say, that extra bit of mediciney taste in Vita Malt is not my taste… Malta India!

  • Maria Alejandra

    I grew up near the Malta India brewery. I hated the smell, but damn it, I loved my Malta.

  • Apitoccpr

    I ll have Malta India over any kind of Coke Anytime !!! I think it is an aquired taste !!! You either Love it or hate it !!!

  • Guineverealewis

    I love Malta India! My father used to buy it when I was growing up, and my mother couldn’t stand it!
    I live in Kentucky now and can’t find it :(

  • CuriousStudent

    I ordered a case of this through the local walmart the other week shortly after reading your post. (I live in Arizona btw) I am always looking to try new things and this was one of them.
    Upon opening it I was a little hesitant. Yes it is very thick. Yes it has a unique smell.
    But I muscled through my fear and took a sip.
    Wow!
    It is like drinking smooth, toasted cream of wheat with molasses to sweeten.
    I love it!
    That did not hold true with the rest of my family. They all dislike it to varying degrees.
    Excellent! Now I don’t have to share.
    Thanks for the post and showing me this awesome drink.

  • sam wilson

    I love Malta India sooo much better than the Goya crap. I buy it once a month because they sell like hot cakes here.

  • Lyly

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Malta India, it is better than ALL of the other Malts I have drank, even the one I was forced to drink in France because they didn’t have Malta India over there. Being from the Virgin Islands I grew up on it and nothing beats a Malta India and milk hmmmm. I want some now.

  • Wilfredo Santos Jr

    To me Malta India is like the nectar of the gods. I’ve done my fair share of traveling (I was in the Marines) and by rule I like to try anything new. Love to stop in the middle of nowhere and buy that weird drink at the party store in the corner. But nothing has ever tasted like or will ever taste like an ice cold Malta India. But you are right. You either love it or hate it. I love to have non-Hispanic people try it. Usually I hand them a malta and a glass. I tell them “pour some, try it, if you don’t like it don’t worry I’ll finish the bottle”. Sorry to necropost but I couldn’t walk by without saying something about a drink I love. Also I noted you didn’t mention that it actually has protein (albeit a small amount) and they have one made with corn syrup and one with sugar cane (the latter being the better tasting one). Huza for Malta India lovers!

  • poolmanrich

    now I didn’t grow up on this stuff, but it has to be one of my favorite soft drinks. being of Scottish and Irish descent, my light skin seems to draw attention when purchasing a malta. I do appreciate a good dark beer, and for the longest time I attributed my taste for Malta to that. my son however is 11 and not into dark beer as you could imagine, yet there’s nothing he likes more for lunch then an empanadas de carne and an ice cold Malta to wash it down.
    … drink up and enjoy!

  • Boricua

    I looove Malta India, not other brands though. It has to be India or nothing! I couldnt have explained it better lol. My husband hated it at first but then kept taking sips of mine every time, now 8 tell him to get his own. My kids lov re it too. I also love Mavi… have you tasted that?

  • Rojer Ramjet

    Malta tastes like “Malt-O-Meal,” which is GOOD to my tastes!!!