Scottish soda Irn-Bru returns to “old and unimproved” formula

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Few Americans have had an Irn-Bru unless they’ve traveled to Scotland, where the soda is considered perhaps the country’s proudest beverage—well, behind Scotch. Irn-Bru has been imported to the States to slake the thirst of dozens of fans of its singular flavor. That flavor is getting a slight change-up, though, as the company announced it will begin producing a limited edition of Irn-Bru based on the original 1901 recipe, which the company is billing as “old and unimproved” Irn-Bru.

The deli where I worked in college is owned by two brothers of Scottish descent, which is why the deli stocked Scottish delicacies like haggis-flavored potato chips and Irn-Bru. I recall maybe three customers a month actually ordering Irn-Bru, but the ones who did were always over-the-top enthusiastic about it. They were thrilled, just thrilled, that we carried this orange-hued, loosely bubblegum-flavored soft drink. The deli also occasionally displayed Irn-Bru posters sent by the importer, as the company’s controversial advertising is almost as famous as its product. The deli charged a premium for this overseas delicacy—I guess those Scottish imports don’t come cheap—and homesick Scottish customers were more than willing to pay. The standard Irn-Bru boasts of its “indescribable and phenomenal taste” that comes from a combination of 32 flavors.


The limited-edition new-but-old formulation, Edinburgh Live reports, will follow a handwritten recipe from 1901, the year of Irn-Bru’s launch. The recipe had reportedly been stored in the company’s archives for more than a century. It’s assumed that, because of the age of this recipe, no living person had tasted it—until now. If you can get your hands on the “unimproved” Irn-Bru, please let us know if tastes any better than the standard one.

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Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.