We have to laugh a little at Waterloo calling their unflavored flavor “Original.” Like this is where it all started? Like the brand was founded on an unflavored sparkling water, which they have, over time, reluctantly defiled with flavors?

There’s something slightly mysterious about the phenomenon of the big brands including unflavored sparkling water in their roster. Why unflavored sparkling water? Why not just drink Topo Chico? Who, besides us, buys these? Why?

If you’re out there, slide into our DMs and tell us about your own pathology and self-loathing.

But the real question is: is there a difference between Waterloo’s Original, LaCroix’s Pure, and bubly’s justbubly? Or is it all just an exercise in branding, like Liquid Death but for people who can’t handle the true nature of reality?

Well, we’re here to answer these burning questions.

Normally, we’d open the review with some thoughts on the nose, the fragrance that wafts from the can upon first pop. Of course, there is none here, so let’s dive in.

Tasting Notes

Original is weird.

Listen: the appeal of unflavored sparkles is the sparkles. The only reason to reach for a branded flavorless sparkling water is to enjoy the crisp little bubbles as they slowly dissolve your enamel and tickle your uvula.

You do not want to taste the water, or at least, you shouldn’t be able to. That’s what differentiates “sparkling water” from “sparkling mineral water.” If we wanted water we could taste, we’d reach for the Gerolsteiner.

And we know Waterloo knows this, because that’s how they pitch this one on their website:

“Lively mouthfeel with just the right amount of carbonation; NO mineral aftertaste.”

Ok, there’s no mineral aftertaste.  But there is an aftertaste. Oh, boy howdy, there’s an aftertaste.

We have to keep checking the ingredients list to convince ourselves that there isn’t some kind of sweetener, or glycerin, or something in here. It’s sweet.

The aftertaste is the distinct flavor that you get when you’re at the bar and you ask for a cola, or some other flavored carbonated beverage, and the bartender fills up your glass but doesn’t realize that it’s tapped out: you get only the subtlest hints of the dregs of sugar and citric acid. That watery disappointment which fills your mouth, and sends the glass back to the server. Change the syrup cartridge, dude.

And we want something to be changed with this “Original.” Seriously, this can’t actually be what they were going for.

We wonder if it’s maybe the same phenomenon at work here: at the end of every day, maybe Waterloo uses “Original” as an excuse to flush their machinery and wash all the various flavor remains from the bowels of their canning tubes, where they mingle into some vague chemically sweetness.

Or maybe it’s some kind of molecule in the BPA-free lining that’s imparting it’s own weird essence to this water? Maybe the taste testers at Waterloo drink it straight from the tap, and don’t realize what they’re actually sending out into the world’s mouths?

Maybe this is just what tap water tastes like in Austin?

Who can say? At the end of our day, we’re left with only more questions.

And by the end of this can, you’ll be begging for mineral aftertaste mercy.


Vapor-distilled Carbonated Water

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