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So you thought I’d stopped drinking energy drinks, did you? Well, I haven’t. This review has been stuck on my hard drive for about ten months, and now it’s about time to get it out the door.

You’re probably aware that Red Bull exists. The brand is well-known for its association with extreme sports, there are very few extreme sports events that are not covered in Red Bull advertisements. Those that aren’t are usually plastered with Monster Energy logos instead. Red Bull is also heavy into computer gaming and eSports, various music festivals, and also the pinnacle of motor sports, Formula 1. In short, if something that is even remotely related to adrenaline is happening, you can be sure that Red Bull is involved somehow.

Red Bull Zero Calories is the, you guessed it, zero calories version of the familiar Red Bull recipe. I’m not sure if calories should be your major concern when you gulp down a can of Red Bull, though. Caffeine is the only ingredient advertised on the can, but the Zero Calories edition also comes with taurine, and a high dose of B6 and B12 vitamins.

Can

The Red Bull can is easy to recognize anywhere, and the Red Bull Zero Calories can has exactly the same design as the standard Red Bull can, except for a different color scheme. It also comes with the familiar Red Bull cap, which means you’ll be able to distinguish a can of Red Bull from another energy drink even if you’re blind or stuck in a very small, dark closet with a Red Bull and another brand, and you really, really want to the Red Bull. Genius.

First smell

From the can, the Red Bull Zero Calories smells sweet and of berries – perhaps blueberries – which is a bit of a surprise. You’d think the zero calories version and the original should smell the same. Unlike many other energy drinks, the smell of the Red Bull Zero Calories doesn’t go away, which I take as a sign of high quality. Or lots and lots of synthetic ingredients.

First sip from the can

The taste is pretty much the same as the smell, sweet and of berries – and surprisingly not Red-Bull-like. The taste quickly wears off, but there is not as much of that energy drink slime accumulating in my mouth. The reason might be that the Red Bull Zero Calories doesn’t contain any (added) sugar. There is a somewhat bitter aftertaste that lasts for about a second.

Taste from a glass

There is a lot more of that berry smell, and the drink feels very carbonated and fresh on the tongue. The taste, however, is more or less the same as directly from the can, so there is no need to waste a clean glass on this one.

Visuals

It’s looks exactly like Red Bull – no shocker there – but way less fizzy than it felt on tongue.

After 5 minutes

Unlike many of the other energy drinks I’ve sampled, the Red Bull Zero Calories keeps its taste over time. The lack of energy drink slime in my mouth is also very refreshing compared to a lot of other brands.

After 10 minutes

At the 10 minutes mark, I’m about half way through the can. The drink still hasn’t lost any of its taste and smell.

The can is empty

After 15 minutes the can is empty. For me, that’s pretty quick, not because I wanted to get it over with, but because it tasted good and I wanted more. I even managed to get the last few drops out of the can, and feel more refreshed than I did when I opened the can. It’s almost like I’ve had 32mg/ml of caffeine, 143% of my daily vitamin B6 need, and some taurine!

The final verdict

The Red Bull Zero Calories is a consistent experience, but I’m not sure who much I appreciate the second of bitter aftertaste after each sip. Still, the Red Bull Zero Calories is miles ahead of most of the other energy drink I’ve sampled so far. But it doesn’t beat the original Red Bull.

Quick facts: Manufacturer
Red Bull is an energy drink sold by Austrian company Red Bull GmbH, created in 1987. In terms of market share, Red Bull is the highest selling energy drink in the world, with 5.387 billion cans sold in 2013.
Quick facts: Caffeine
A central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug, but unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world. Caffeine is used to reduce physical fatigue and to prevent or treat drowsiness. It produces increased wakefulness, faster and clearer flow of thought, increased focus, and better general body coordination.
Quick facts: Taurine
Essential for cardiovascular function, and development and function of skeletal muscle, the retina, and the central nervous system. However, its role in these processes is not clearly understood and the influence of high taurine doses on these processes is uncertain.