There's a lot of talk in Thailand about this new 'est' drink. So I've been keen to try it, and managed to find bottles of it at a temple party.
What you see as Pepsi in Asia is actually a Thai company called SermSuk Public Limited (or SSC as they're know), they imported Pepsi back in the 1950s and made the brand popular. The two companies split last year, Pepsico were rumored to want too much money for the syrup, almost 60% of the price of the drink, and Serm Suk had enough and said no to renewing the contract.
So SSC decided to launch their own brand, 'est', with a different taste and use their large marketing chain to make it popular. This sounds like a major hurdle, competing with Pepsico, but the reverse is true here in Thailand. SSC have all the distribution channels, they own several popular drinks, including Chang which displaced Singha as Thailand's national beer. Pepsico are starting again from scratch, distribution is difficult for them, they're trying to agree a deal with Singha for that, and have bought a supermarket brand known as Big Cola to help with production.
I'm rooting for SSC over Pepsico, since they did all the work, yet Pepsico were taking all the profit! All this intrigue means I've been keen to see what the new cola is like and finally it's arrived in my local supermarket.
First up, it's not a sweet as Pepsi, and that in my mind is a big plus. I dislike cola's normally, the gloopy corn sugar they add coats the inside of my throat and I find I cough afterwards to clear it. So that's a definite plus for me, finally a cola I can drink.
On the negative side, I find it too fizzy. You can see the fizzyness in the temple video, so much gas came out that the bottle was a quarter full of gas! It's a bit fizzy for my tastes.
So not a perfect cola yet, the plastic bottle version not quite packaged right yet, but still, a step up from Pepsi & Coke, at least it's not insanely sweet!