Jackson Hole Soda: High Mountain Huckleberry

History: Yee haw, partner! Put on your boots and let’s go down to the saloon for the next few minutes. Or actually, let’s go north to Wyoming. The year was 2002 when Jackson Hole Soda Company popped up in Jackson, Wyoming. Don’t worry; it’s 2.5 hours away from Yellowstone National Park, so you should be safe for a visit. Don’t even tell me if they live in Jackson too. Anyway, the folks in Jackson really liked their rootin’ tootin’ soda jerks. So much so that the company outgrew itself and moved into western Colorado. And then it happened again. Now the soda is produced in Montebello, California. Typically expansion means success and success means good soda. And good soda is what you want in your fridge. Jackson Hole Soda Company produces eight different flavors, including traditional fan favorites like root beer and sarsaparilla and the more unusual High Mountain Huckleberry. The company changed ownership in 2011 when Bill Leary and his family saddled up and bought it. “Part of me always wanted to be in a fun business,” he says in a calm, joyful tone on the phone. Many of the company’s flavors have been tweaked slightly since the sale, but are all still similar to the original recipes. Leary says customers typically tell him they’re drawn in by the wild west-themed packaging and keep coming back for the flavors. Indeed we were drawn to High Mountain Huckleberry, among other reasons, for the label. Let’s see if we come back for what’s inside.

History: Jackson Hole Soda is distributed in pockets all over the United States. Check your local retro soda stores. They’re also available at many Rocketfizz retailers. But for those of us who live life with more of a pizza delivery philosophy, you can also buy Jackson Hole Soda on Amazon.

Nose: Strong black raspberry, the kind that used to grow at grandma’s house; intense berry; sugar-covered blackberries. There’s a lot going on here for your flavor snout. Definitely lots of berry scents.

Taste: Soft berry flavor; not quite blueberry; not quite raspberry. The carbonation on this is really noticeable right off the bat in a way that adds to the flavor profiles in this soda. Very light, frothy bubbles push a sweet black raspberry flavor to the forefront of your taste buds that quickly evaporates into a soft blueberry taste. The raspberry and blueberry flavors almost begin to meld into a… blue raspberry taste. Yeah, I know. Never saw that one coming. Very smooth for a fruit soda with a carbonation feel in the mouth much closer to cream than citrus or berry sodas. The bubbles are fun and different than most carbonation. The sugar in this isn’t overbearing, but is just a pinch on the sweeter side. That said, no harsh syrupy taste. The blueberry and raspberry flavors interchange back and forth. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle in your mouth.

Finish: Delicious blue raspberry ICEE. This is a no-brainer. If you’ve had a blue raspberry diabetes in a cup ICEE before at the movies or in the mall, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re unfamiliar with this beverage, then I’m sorry you didn’t have a childhood.

Rating: This is certainly one of the most interesting fruit sodas on the market today. Its multiple berry flavors, unique carbonation, and smoothness make this one of the more fun sodas sold on shelves. It’s definitely an experience that both confuses and pleases the drinker. There’s a lot of complicated flavor profiles occurring in this bottle. Making sodas with layers of taste is a difficult task, and Jackson Hole has done a very nice job of accomplishing that with High Mountain Huckleberry. It’s especially impressive considering no one really knows what a huckleberry is or where it naturally grows. Half of you just went to Google huckleberries, so welcome back. All in all, this is really fun and tasty. You may not be able to place the berry flavors exactly, but that makes it a mystery worth trying to solve until the last sip. The sugar can be a bit intense at times and really ramps up at the end of each drink. I wouldn’t advise guzzling this. Not just because of the sugar, but because this should be enjoyed for its intricate blend of flavors. This is a beverage passionate craft soda drinkers should invest in for its layered flavor profile and one younger drinkers can enjoy for its sweetness and drinkability. You can go back to Googling berries now if you want. We’ll be drinking this instead.

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