New Barr’s Irn-Bru recipe tastes ‘almost exactly the same’ as old one

The Scotsman Irn-Bru Taste Test Team. From left to right, James Delaney, Brian Ferguson and Florence Snead try out the new low sugar version of Barr's Irn-Bru.
The Scotsman Irn-Bru Taste Test Team. From left to right, James Delaney, Brian Ferguson and Florence Snead try out the new low sugar version of Barr's Irn-Bru.
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It’s a battle between Irn-Bru and Coke, the health of the nation versus those who have helped ruin it, Scotland versus the rest of the world. The fate of new Irn-Bru really is that big.

The lower-sugar version, which contains about four teaspoons of sugar compared to 8.5 in a standard can, is being rolled out in the shops this month but The Scotsman was given a sneak preview yesterday.

Designed to avoid a sugar tax brought in by the UK government as part of efforts to tackle this country’s epidemic of obesity – linked with conditions like diabetes, heart disease and stroke – the drink could make a significant difference to sugar consumption. After a blind taste-test, the verdict of our specially created panel was unanimous. Despite containing less than half the sugar, new recipe Irn-Bru tastes almost exactly the same as the old one.

“My over-riding impression after an initial swig of each glass was that one of the two was much sweeter than the other. It felt more full-bodied and also was slightly darker in colour,” said arts correspondent Brian Ferguson.

“It also felt a bit more like the taste of traditional Irn-Bru, so I wasn’t overly surprised that this one was made using the old recipe. However, there was not a huge difference in the taste between the two and I would be amazed if die-hard Irn-Bru lovers could definitely identify which was which. I certainly wouldn’t put off buying Irn-Bru in future when the occasion demands it.”

Reporter Florence Snead said it had been “a long time since I’ve drunk Irn Bru … so I was interested to see if I’d be able to tell the difference. Both tasted nice and to be honest it was really quite difficult to tell the difference,” she said.

And her colleague James Delaney added: “I was a little bit sceptical when I heard they were changing the recipe, but trying it for the first time, it is almost impossible to tell the difference. It still tastes like the Irn-Bru we all know and love.”

A G Barr stressed the drink was still made using the “same secret Irn-Bru flavour essence”. “The vast majority of our drinkers want to consume less sugar so that’s what we’re now offering,” the firm said. “We know that our loyal drinkers love Irn-Bru for its unique great taste and we’ve worked hard to deliver this. We ran lots of taste-tests that showed most people can’t tell the difference – nine out of ten regular Irn-Bru drinkers told us we had a good or excellent taste match.”

Unlike Irn-Bru, Coca-Cola’s response to the sugar tax has been to put up its prices. But, where the UK leads, the rest of the world may follow so that may eventually change.