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Move over Mac, this Air is set to steal the hearts and wallets of hipsters nationwide. New Air “Alcohol Inspired Refresher,” created by the Mckenzie River Corporation (MCR), is something like a vodka soda, only not, having gone through a “patented process” which leaves it “virtually odorless, colorless, and tasteless,” like vodka, but being malt-based rather than distilled. The result is a carbonated, mildly alcoholic (only 4% ABV) water-soda-malt-vodka hybrid that is touted to be the “first” of its kind.
According to Drink Spirits, Air comes in berry, citrus and club flavors; is highly carbonated; and is best served chilled, which helps to mask the already minimal malt-based flavoring. Best of all, since it is malt-based and each can only holds about .48 ounces of booze, you can buy it in your local grocery store right next to the beer.
It’s all pretty inventive, but in the end, you are getting less alcohol per can of Air than you would in your average vodka soda. Vodka is 80 proof, or 40%, so a 2 ounce shot plus 4 ounces of soda water would net you a total of .8 ounce of alcohol or 13% ABV. Air is 4% ABV and a can of Air gives you .48 ounce of alcohol, so it’s a little more than half of what you’d get in a standard vodka soda, and close to what you’d get in a beer. Also the alcohol is different, malt sourced rather than distilled, so the buzz you get is more like a beer than a hard spirit.
The prime focus of Air is its neutrality – even the flavored versions are very lightly flavored. At 95 calories per can, it’s significantly less than most malt beverages on the market, and even the low calorie beers from the major beer companies. Air is fairly highly carbonated and it’s best chilled, so pouring it over ice greatly enhances the experience. Air has done a fantastic job of masking the malt source of its alcohol. We were only able to detect a slight hint of it in the citrus Air, which was served closer to room temperature. The berry Air which we tried iced cold had no suggestion of malt. Both Air flavors were much more dry than sweet and reminded us more of lightly flavored seltzer water than a sweet malt beverage.