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Nth Degree Lemon Citrus Flavor Enhanced Sports Drink (Big Lots)

It had been weeks, if not months, the last time I set foot in a Big Lots store prior to this last visit, and I was a little anxious to see what I’d been missing. The last few times the store was totally devoid of almost everything I go there for (interesting beverages and/or energy drinks), so I was hoping the many days in between had allowed them to fill their shelves chock full of delicious goodies all with one goal in mind: to please me.

Lo and behold, they had! There were a few different energy drinks spread across the aisle, and I partook in the purchase of quite a few. But then my eyes wandered to a sports drink, something I haven’t had in several months (and very sparsely ever since I quit playing recreational-league hockey almost three full years ago), and something that sounded quite good, out of the blue. It was from a brand called Nth Degree—one I’d never heard of, which is pretty par for the course for me as far as Big Lots products are concerned—and it looked pretty delicious. Oh, and the kicker: a 16 oz. bottle was $.50…how could I possibly go wrong? With that in mind, I opened the cap and dove right in…

It smells rather annoying. A lot of these drinks, especially ones made of chemicals and other “natural flavors”, smell like citrus cleaner, and this really isn’t all that different. It’s a cartoonish, over-the-top citrus scent that becomes more and more grating as it makes its way into your sinuses. Needless to say, my initial impressions—paired up with any natural reservations one might have when picking up a product from Big Lots—did not have me expecting any sort of award-winning beverage.

And it isn’t. In fact, it’s actually quite bad, with a cloying sweetness that exactly matches the annoying smell. It’s one of those beverages that seems like it so desperately wants to convey its flavors that it amps the “citrus” levels to absurd proportions. In doing so, it becomes almost undrinkable…it was starting to turn my stomach by the fourth or fifth sip. As I generally do, I managed to finish it, but to say it left a rather bad taste in my mouth is a statement I can make both literally and figuratively in this situation.

Granted, this is meant for performance during activities, when one is so desperate for hydration and liquids that just about anything tastes good, and I just sat down and drank it for lunch, so maybe my bar was set higher than it should be. But still, there are a lot of sports drinks that are delicious right out of the bottle, and very few of them have been so ridiculously over-the-top as this one.

Supposedly, it has a “new generation” of artificial sweetener that is fully absorbed in the body, but much slower, leading to “the full energy of carbohydrates over a longer period of time.” I cannot vouch for whether or not it’s true, but regardless if it is, or that’s just a marketing ploy, this stuff still sucks.

Overall: 3/10. Smells like citrus cleaner, and then has the audacity to taste like it, too. There’s a cloying sweetness that overwhelms everything, and the addition of multiple sweeteners does it no favors by adding a chemical aftertaste. For $.50 at Big Lots, it’s worth trying if you’re interested, but with all the sports drinks on the market today, there should be no reason to settle for this one. Supposedly this releases carbs slower so that you can stay active longer, but at the cost of tasting like shit, so try it at your own risk.

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