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F&N Sarsi

With D’s fel­low­ship exams com­ing up, we took our exped­i­tions for dif­fer­ent brands of sar­sa­parilla closer to home (or the loc­al Asian gro­cery), so start­ing with the A&W Sarsaparilla is a series of sar­sparilla brands impor­ted from Asian where it’s more com­monly called sar­si, a sar­sa­parilla-based soft drink.

This here is F&N Sarsi impor­ted from Malaysia.

The bever­age is well-car­bon­ated with a trans­lu­cent medi­um brown col­our, much light­er than the almost opaque brown-black of Western sar­sparil­las, with a sweet and acid­ic medi­cin­al nose. Consumed ice-cold, the sweet­ness is heavy in the head, recall­ing rock sug­ar, before prom­in­ent win­ter­green fla­vours devel­op with intens­ity in the body towards the fin­ish and return to the rock sug­ar sweet­ness in the after­taste.

There are none of the car­a­mel, vanilla or liquorice of Western sar­sparilla. Indeed, the win­ter­green notes are even more pro­nounced than in the A&W Sarsaparilla. And if that one had the taste of sweetened Voltaren gel, then this one by F&N has the sweetened taste of the more intensely scen­ted Tiger Balm White, which is 15% win­ter­green oil. Whereas Western sar­sa­parilla has a pleas­ant medi­cin­al fla­vour like the kind that can be inges­ted, this is the second Asian sar­si that has an unpleas­ant medi­cin­al fla­vour like the kind that comes with warn­ings for ‘extern­al use only’. Medicinal fla­vour aside, this Sarsaparilla was also overly sweet and made Schweppes taste barely sweetened when com­pared side by side.

Perhaps I’ll have more luck with sar­si from out­side Malaysia? Or is sar­si closer to root bear than sar­sa­parilla?

This can of F&N Sarsi con­tained 330ml. It was bottled in Malaysia and pur­chased in Sydney, Australia in 2017.