Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mango Nectar Taste Comparison

I’m sending this one out to DJ HawaiianShirt, wizard of the aging barrel and the inspiration for this post. We were discussing a recipe I submitted for his excellent MxMo in April, and I said that the results varied with the brand of mango nectar used. This variation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you want the spirits to be fairly forward in a mango drink, it’s worth noting that the thickness and intensity of mango nectar are widely different from brand to brand.

So I decided to taste some products that were available within walking distance of my front door. Alas, one of the nicer brands for mixing I had found months back had vanished without a trace. (I can’t even remember the name.) This left Ceres, Looza, R.W. Knudsen and a fresh juice product I had never seen before from Mollie Stone’s, a local supermarket chain. Another item I would’ve included, a national brand, was left out of the contest due to the presence of high fructose corn syrup. (Yeah, I know—it’s in everything. We can do without it this once.)

The testing procedure for each of these brands was simple: taste it by itself, then mixed 4:3 with Mount Gay Eclipse. The nectar would be evaluated on its own merits, the degree to which it tasted like mango, and how well it played with the rum. The tasting notes below list the brands in the order in which we tried them. We went through all the brands for each of the two parts of the test separately, though for convenience, all the notes are shown together under the name of the brand.


Ceres Mango: Of the two ingredients, the first is pear, and it definitely tastes like pear. Not much like mango, though tasty. Not too sweet. A little candy-like with Mount Gay.

R.W. Knudsen Family Mango Nectar: Lots of different fruits in this. General impression is more apple-peach than mango. Warmer flavor than the Ceres. Housemate preferred the Ceres. Combined poorly with Mount Gay.

Mollie Stone’s Mango Madness: Very fresh. Distinct mango flavor and somewhat thicker body than the previous two. Contains white grape as the second ingredient, which drops into the background. The flavor of the Mount Gay came through, though the nectar was so clean and fresh that a little sugar would’ve helped it talk to the rum.

Looza Mango Nectar: Rich, velvety, big mango flavor—especially on the finish. The only adjuncts are water and sugar, so it really tastes like mango. Goes beautifully with the Mount Gay but absorbs it into its seductive golden thickness.


The Ceres and Knudsen were good as bottled juice beverages though I wouldn’t use them in mixed drinks that call for mango.

The Mollie Stone’s may have some applications in mixed drinks, though it’s so refreshing it might be used to temper something with a liqueur component.

Looza was the standout, as I expected it to be, though it tended to smother. We mixed it 50-50 with El Dorado 5-Year and drank that on the rocks at the end of the experiment, and it worked out fine. The rum and the fruit combined into a sort of liquid caramel in the glass. It’s a tricky thing to balance the amber fire and the golden fog.

With this in mind, here’s a recipe that attempts some sort of compromise between the rum and the mango.

Misty Mango Hop
  • 2 oz gold Jamaica rum
  • 2 oz Looza mango nectar
  • 1/2 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Hart 151 rum
Combine all except Lemon Hart 151 with one cup crushed iced and stir until cold. Pour into a large glass and add crushed ice to fill. Float Lemon Hart 151. Cherry, lime. Straw.

I know—there’s no straw in the picture. (All I had were striped bendy straws.) Drink this with a straw, though. If you suck the Lemon Hart off the top first, you won’t taste the other stuff much. It’s better if the float just stays at the top and fortifies the drink as you get to the icy part at the end.


  1. Many thanks!

    I'm disappointed you didn't get to the Goya brand, not only because it's the easiest for me to get, but also because Goya is one of the most prolific brands in north America. Do you not have access to it?

    Yeah, pear juice and white grape juice are the most common natural sweeteners for juices. Sometimes it's too noticeable.

    I can relate to the frustration of product discontinuation. A while back I found a brand of frozen peas in a store... It sounds strange, but they were incredible. They were large and meaty, and their flavor had the unctuous flavor of edamame. A few weeks later, it was gone, and I didn't even catch the brand name. BLAST!

  2. No Goya around. Not a drop. And I went to something like 3-4 stores. I debated whether to order online but decided not to go there in part cuz of HFCS.

    The place where I often have a drink on weekends uses canned puree from India, incidentally, which I cannot find either. But it suggests a possible second test, like maybe how all these things stack up to, I dunno, an actual pulverized mango mixed with water and syrup or something.

  3. Curiously, another product came my way just today: Kern’s No HFCS. Apparently, it’s a Costco item. I’ll report back soon.

  4. A short addendum here to say that the Kern’s No HFCS was a pretty good option, coming in third for intensity of mango flavor and second in mixable versatility. We did the same tests, and found that we could taste the apple in it, which was OK. The Demerara rum we had with it after overwhelmed the nectar, unlike Looza, which still wins for sheer mango-osity.


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