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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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