Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Victoria's Kitchen Sweet Almond Water - Whole Foods: Mt Laurel, NJ

Victoria's Kitchen Sweet Almond Water - Whole Foods: Mt Laurel, NJ
Return of the black background! Some of you might recognize this bottle from yesterday's video.

I don't shop at Whole Foods. It's not that I'm opposed to the company, or organic foods, it's just really inconvenient. The closest location is on a very busy highway filled with traffic (and the parking lot is a deathtrap). Driving all that way just doesn't make sense when I have 6 different grocery stores close to home with organic options. (Some are even walking distance.) So when I went to Whole Foods for a lunch date I took advantage of the situation and explored the entire store.
There weren't any food items that caught my eye. (Although I did find more flavors of Brad's RAW Kale chips!)I feel like a lot of the foods I have been reviewing lately have been mediocre, and I really wanted to try something new and different, so I picked up a few beverages that I had never seen before. One of them was this Sweet Almond Water.

Sweet is the perfect way to describe this design. Just look at it! The product looks simple, inviting, and a bit rustic.

I found this in the Italian section of Whole Foods on the highest shelf. Being up so high and having such a simple label did not work in this product's favor. Had I not been taking my time and scanning the entire shelf, I could have easily walked right past this and never knew it existed, which is a real shame. Up close, the label design is really endearing. The white paper label has a rough texture, similar to homemade papers, and the layout is quite clean. Overall I really like the packaging, even the cheesy little touches, like listing lots of love in the ingredients, are quite adorable. (Normally I find that kind of stuff obnoxious, but I feel like it works with this design.) There is one little hiccup. "Let Grandma show you how love tastes," sounds absolutely horrific no matter how you spin it. I would suggest reworking that phrase, unless the company is going for a really creepy vibe.
EDIT: Apparently the bottles have already been re-designed. The new labels can be seen HERE.  I'm like the new look, it has very bold typography, but I miss the texturing from the paper label.

The bottle is made of glass, so you can see the eerily milky liquid inside. I can't decide if this liquid is pretty or creepy, I keep flip-flopping. When I was photographing it, the liquid looked kind of opalescent, which was really unique, but In person it looks kind of smokey. The coloring might put some people off, but it's impossible to create a perfectly clear, natural, beverage with almonds.

Finally, it's time to open the bottle up and see what this stuff smells like! (I'm really excited. I love almond flavored things and I have really high hopes for this beverage.)
Once poured, this stuff smells really strong, as in almond essential oil-strong. I have this stuff in my pantry called "almond baking essence," it's a really thick and concentrated almond extract for baking, and this liquid smells just like it. As a scent, this is amazing. I wish I had perfumes, soaps, and candles that smelled like this. Notice all the things I listed were bath products. This scent is delicious, but it almost smells too strong to drink. It's as if I'm about to drink almond extract.

The bottle states that this is meant to be served ice cold, so I chilled my glass in the fridge before taking a sip. Even ice cold, I was a bit hesitant to drink this stuff. It honestly smells just like almond essential oils and extract. If any of you have ever tasted that stuff, you know it's very concentrated. I was originally really excited to try this stuff, and now I am a little scared.

I took a sip, and thankfully it doesn't taste as strongly as it smells. There is a strong flavoring, which is really similar to almond essential oil, but the sweetness from the sugarcane cuts it a bit.The best way I can describe the taste is simple syrup with a touch of almond milk and an entire bottle of almond essential oil.

As a beverage completely on it's own, the strong oil-like flavoring is too much, but this would make an amazing mix-in for other drinks. The label suggested making popsicles or sweetening coffee, and both of those ideas sound amazing.

I wouldn't buy this as a drink, but I am excited to use it as an ingredient in other items. I'll play around with this and let you know what I come up with later this week.
© Maria Smith
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