What’s In Abbina Soda?

Abbina sodas are created from high-quality ingredients. But let’s just get this out of the way right now: no, they’re not “all natural.” 

I started my own process of formulating these sodas in my dining room. I did a lot of research and began with two key flavoring components: essential oils and extractions. The essential oils are obvious: I’d buy food grade essential oil - things like bitter orange, geranium, and clove - and dilute them with 95% grain alcohol. For the extracts, I bought whole or ground solid ingredients - such as gentian root, fennel seed, sarsaparilla root, and nutmeg. Then I ground those up and put them into a chemistry funnel with 95% grain alcohol for a day or two and drain them.

This process led me to some good-tasting stuff. But it wasn’t ever right. There was always a harshness to it, a roughness that made it feel unpolished, unprofessional, and never hit the mark on the vision I had in my mind.

After a few months of tinkering with this method, I realized I couldn’t continue this way and achieve what I wanted to. I needed to use synthetic flavors and natural isolates. That would be the only way to zero-in on the exact flavors I wanted to create.

When using essential oils and natural extracts, each flavor ingredient ends up having hundreds or thousands of chemicals in it. That leads to complexity, and is in itself unique and useful. But it limits the creator’s ability to create their exact vision. It’s like if you wanted to taste orange juice, but were forced to eat the juice, pulp, rind, leaves, and the tree too.

Natural isolates are another important tool that we use. For example, our sodas rely heavily on the flavor of vanilla. But we aren’t grinding up vanilla beans and putting them in our soda. The biggest flavor/smell component of vanilla is a chemical called vanillin. It can be obtained both through natural and synthetic processes. Without it, our flavors wouldn’t be possible, and even if they were, they would cost many, many times more than anyone would be willing to pay.

The flavor and fragrance industry has existed for a long time. And while there are a lot of companies, in food, fragrance, and cosmetics, that have benefited from the idea that all-natural is healthier and better, there’s plenty of experts who disagree. Consistency in synthetics and natural isolates allows for careful safety testing and high quality standards.

We also opted to use preservatives in our sodas. First, the chance of spoilage is one of the most dangerous possibilities in making a food product. The bacteria that causes botulism is one of the most toxic risks to humans. Using preservatives ensures that this top risk isn’t an issue. We also opted against pasteurization both because of the potential to flavor changes and because of cost. Preservatives have been proven safe many times, and without question, are far safer than the bacteria that they prevent.

But because we were in search of creating the perfect replica of our vision, we did use a number of natural ingredients in our sodas. First, we chose organic agave syrup as our sweetener because of the amazing fruity and toasty complexity that it offers. In Royale, we use a strong, dark natural coffee extract that gives the impression of freshly ground coffee beans. In Tower 44, our saffron flavor is made primarily from natural saffron oil, and we also use a patchouli essential oil from Indonesia to add complexity. In Candlewood, there’s a natural oakmoss absolute. And in Vinnie, you’ll find natural mango and pineapple flavors.

When you’re sipping an Abbina soda, you can rest assured that your drink is not only safe, but also complex, delicious, and designed to complement your cigar perfectly.

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