IRN BRU Reviewed

Today we take a break from posting about the sights of Scotland to focus on the country’s second most famous beverage, IRN BRU. The drink first came to my attention earlier this year when there was international news coverage of the reformulation of the recipe to lower sugar content, which resulted in a predictable outcry from loyal fans.

I had to see what all the fuss was about, so I picked up a can of IRN BRU at the local grocery store. The can I purchased was the new formulation, which was evident due to the labeled calorie content of 65kcal. The old recipe had 138kcal per can (comparable to a can of Coca Cola at 140kcal per can). Sadly, I didn’t expect that we’d be able to try the old recipe since it is no longer on shelves and is reportedly being hoarded.

Color (or Colour, when in the UK)

I poured the can of IRN BRU into a short glass so that we could get a clear view of the nectar. It bubbled vigorously and once the bubbles subsided the liquid was a deep, bright orange color, not all too different from the color of the can.


The aroma was very sweet and fruit-forward, reminiscent of fruity pebbles.


We don’t normally let the kids have caffeinated beverages, but we did allow them a sip in this case so that we could get their take on the flavor of IRN BRU. Cream soda and sweet tarts were a couple of the flavors that they identified.

Given the color of the drink, it is hard for one’s brain to not associate the flavor with oranges. However, one flavor clearly stuck out – bubble gum. Along with the bubble gum there is some citrus-y tartness, and the slightly unpleasant aftertaste of artifical sweetener (in order to maintain the sweetness of the beverage, aspartame and acesulfame K were included in the new formulation). By my taste, the closest US equivalent in flavor is Big Red.

Here’s the reverse side of the can. Note the warning “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” I’m guessing that the same may apply to adults 🙂

Eureka – Old Recipe Found!

Earlier I mentioned that I didn’t think we would have the chance to try the old recipe since manufacturing ceased earlier this year. However, fate smiled on us when I was checking out the beverage choices at a small roadside stop in Lairg. Mixed in with the 65 calorie cans of IRN BRU was a can that was labeled 138 calories!

I snapped up the liquid gold and we repeated the taste test. We found the taste of the original to be pretty much the same as the new formula, except without the artificial sweetener aftertaste. No surprise, a beverage with real sugar tastes better than one with artificial sweeteners.

IRN BRU Verdict

We all had fun sampling Scotland’s favorite non-alcoholic beverage. The kids would be happy to drink more of it if we’d let them but we really can’t do with any adverse effects on activity. 🙂

As far as us adults, we’ll stick with sparkling water and Scotland’s first most famous beverage (on occasion). 🙂