A while back, Jalopnik’s own Alanis King and Elizabeth Blackstock looked in to Formula One’s strangest sponsor, Rich Energy. If you’re baffled as to how a come-out-of-nowhere energy drink that’s difficult to find (at best) can sponsor an F1 team, you’re not alone. Amid the facts and figures in that story, what stuck out to me is that Rich Energy is apparently available in the UK, yet the six people sent out to find it came up empty.
Because of a childish urge to possess what I apparently can’t have, I developed an overwhelming desire to taste Rich Energy and see if it made me feel rich and gave me energy.
I did. It’s not gone well.
The official explanation for Jalopnik’s team finding no evidence of it on UK shores was that the company was “targeting clubs, bars, hotels and high-end wine shops” as it launched. Okay, so it’s in swanky places.
While my clubbing days are long behind me, I enjoy a jar as much as the next guy, so I went looking for it whenever I was out. No dice. Maybe I was wasn’t drinking in classy enough establishments. After getting stung for £80 ($102) for the privilege of three tequila shots and three terribly made espresso martinis in a swanky Mayfair bar (the type of place designed for people who don’t blink at being overcharged for drinks and think a sparkler attached to a bottle of champagne is the pinnacle of cool) a while back, I avoid the area like the plague.
But, I thought, perhaps Rich Energy lives behind the bars there?
Anyway, rather than fruitlessly search for a premium energy drink in bars full of people I don’t like, I figured it would be easier to order some in. This was a naïve assumption.
Rich Energy’s website has slabs of 24 cans at a time on sale for the princely sum of £30 plus £6.50 for shipping ($47). You have to be over 16 years old to purchase it, per a warning on the site.
You’d expect an F1 sponsor and “premium” drink brand to have its own in-house payment system sorted, but Rich Energy is a PayPal affair only, which seemed odd to me. Money payed, a slip saying that order #000000384 was all in hand appeared on my screen.
Then the wait. Not for the slab, but for email confirmation from Rich Energy that I’ve successfully ordered some fizzy stay awake juice from them. It never came. I did get an email from PayPal telling me I’d pledged money to Rich Energy, but nothing from the company.
My order was placed on May 3 and I kinda forgot about it for a few days, expecting something in the form of actual comms to appear eventually.
On the 10th I became an impatient consumer and did two things. The first was go to Amazon and see if they had any. They did: a three pack for £4.99 ($6.40) and a 12 pack for £17.99 ($23) with free standard delivery, and the 24 tin slab for £30 ($38) and free delivery with Prime. I threw a three-pack in my cart and paid up just in case my original order went missing.
The second thing I did was email Rich Energy with my order number and ask where my magical energy juice actually was. In fairness their rep, Tom, Rich Energy’s Business Manager, replied quickly, apologized profusely and told me that my order was indeed on the way. It arrived a few days later. Initial delivery was scheduled for the 13th, but I was out so rearranged for the 14th.
And lo, after plenty of faff, I’m the proud owner for 27 cans of Rich Energy. It’s real.
So what does it taste like? Well, to give it a fair chance I went for three taste tests. Room temperature, chilled, and with a healthy slug of vodka to see if your VodkaBull should graduate to a VodkaRich.
Taste Test One: Straight Out Of The Slab
Seeing as you’re a sentient human being, you’ve probably had an energy drink before and are vaguely familiar with the chemical smell that seems to come with all of them. Rich Energy has it, sure, but it’s softer than expected on first glug.
On top of that there’s a hint of icing sugar, making it seem more like candy than a drink that’ll give you enough energy to kick a Clydesdale to death (maybe).
After the good, comes the bad. The aftertaste isn’t all that great. It seems to my admittedly unrefined palate that once the initial sugary delightfulness fades you’re left with something rather artificial in its place, and that stuff LINGERS. In the hour since my first can and I could still taste it. On top of an aftertaste like I’ve been swimming in chemicals the inside of my mouth feels all fuzzy and coated. It didn’t leave me thinking: “Wow, what a great thing to drink, I must have more!”, rather: “This is horrid.”
Here’s a reaction shot if the very first swig. Apologies for my general dishevelledness, I’d not long been out of bed and, somewhat depressingly, Rich Energy was my breakfast.
Even though she doesn’t say it often, I’m sure my mother is proud of my life choices.
As we all know, energy drinks, premium or otherwise, are supposed to give you a little boost to help your morning/afternoon/full moon party along. Rich Energy certainly pepped me up.
I’ve not been a regular energy drink consumer for a long time, as I’m British I get my caffeine mostly from tea, but tea is a cherry bomb to Rich Energy’s nuke when it comes to energy delivery. According to the website, Rich Energy is “formulated to provide increased alertness, attention, and energy.”
I certainly felt like there’s more pep in my step, but I also felt easily distracted and a bit rough off the back of it. Test two would have to wait a day as a result.
Taste Test Two: Served Chilled
Around the rim of the can is the suggestion to “serve chilled,” so it seems fair to have a slurp as intended. I popped a can of liquid energy in the fridge over night to make sure it was neatly chilled for a second day’s testing. While I know what color energy drink tends to be this was the first time I’ve seen Rich Energy out of the can. It looks like fizzy pee.
Is it any better chilled? Yes, actually. The icing sugar taste appears to last a little longer, which is a blessed relief as it holds off the standard energy drink aftertaste a smidge longer. After the nowhere-near-natural taste of the stuff fades the inside of my mouth felt coated with that furry feeling you get if you’ve eaten too much candy.
To make matters worse, chilled or not, Rich Energy does have an affect on my energy levels. I feel more alert, and rather more jittery. While it’s not super enjoyable, I do find myself able to get on with more work after half a tin.
After less than half the can I felt energized enough and didn’t really have any inclination to knock it back, but, science, so down it went.
I’m sure skulling energy drinks is a dumb thing to do, but it made me want to go outside and run in circles until I have no energy left. Presumably that’s March 2021, which is when this particular can (having been filled in March 2019) expires. I didn’t feel as rough afterwards as I did on day one either. Maybe I’m getting used to it?
It’s better chilled, but still not brilliant. I felt no richer but did feel energy-er.
Taste Test Three: Booze
I’ll admit I was quietly dreading day three. Rich Energy’s effect on me is rather too potent for my liking—it makes me feel like a record executive in the 1980s, only with liquid, and not coke snorted off the dash of a Countach. And it doesn’t taste nice.
But maybe vodka will make it better? Only one way to find out.
Time to trial out a neglected bottle of Russian Standard, a shot measurer thingy, and my final tin of Rich Energy for a lunchtime pick me up. A UK double (70ml/2.4fl oz) of very chilled (I think that bottle’s been in the freezer for a year or two) vodka poured, it was time for a test.
You know what? With cold vodka, a big ball of ice, and cold Rich Energy on the go I didn’t hate myself as much as I did when I had the power liquid on its own. This may be because the cold hides the taste. I was, as before, more energetic and easily excitable for a while afterwards. The comedown wasn’t as harsh either, which may have been because of the vodka.
After a while though, my mouth felt furry and I couldn’t taste the booze anymore, just the overwhelmingly artificial taste of energy pop.
Is it better than vodka and Red Bull? Pass. It’ll keep you alert while you’re filling yourself with booze, which is exactly what it should do in these circumstances.
Of the three tins I’ve put through my system, mixing it has given me the most satisfying experience. This is, however, like comparing the times I’ve broken bones. None were classifiable as “great.”
In Alanis and Elizabeth’s original piece, Rich Energy’s CEO, William Storey, says: “I bought a liquid and a drink from which I then created the brand…” I think he hit the nail on the head with his description: Rich Energy is indeed “a liquid.” Not one I particularly enjoy having in my body. I’m sure if you like energy drinks you’ll enjoy it.
I don’t, and didn’t.
If you can find it and have an overwhelming desire to have more energy than you normally do, then feel a bit rough a few hours later, fill your boots. Do you want people to think you’re ahead of the crowd by ordering Rich Energy as your energy fluid of choice over the Bull? You’ll look like an arsehole at the bar, but those who know what Rich Energy is will probably be surprised that someone else knows it exists.
Now what the hell do I do with the remaining 24 cans of this stuff?