We Tasted And Ranked 13 Waterloo Sparkling Water Flavors

Waterloo Sparkling Water began crafting its naturally-flavored, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Whole30 Approved line of products in 2017. Its motto is "Water Down Nothing." The varieties are handcrafted by flavor artists, with each product resulting from a months-long process of trial and error. These flavor artists seek the precise balance of natural and sugar-free flavors that encapsulate the aroma and essence of a particular fruit combination. The water itself is purified for optimal PH balance and carbonated to be crisp and accentuate the flavors in each can.

The company has also made concerted efforts to manufacture products sustainably. Its water purification occurs in zero waste plants, cans are BPA-free and made from 70% recycled aluminum, and distribution is managed to reduce carbon footprint. This unique brand has lots to love, but does it taste good?

That's what I wanted to find out, so I sampled 13 of its flavors. As a sparkling water lover, I wanted something a step above the rest. My criteria was bright flavors that didn't taste synthetic but had a refreshing carbonation, and I found it. Though I enjoyed all the flavors, I did rank them from least to most favorite based on aroma, carbonation, and overall taste. Let's look at what set each flavor apart and why it ranked where it did.

Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer/distributor/etc.

13. Grape

The creative impulse behind the development of this sparkling water variety was childhood. Flavor artists wanted to encapsulate the jamminess of Concord grapes with nods to nostalgic grape-flavored sodas and drink mixes. Frankly, they succeeded. My first thought as I sampled the grape flavor was: This tastes like Welch's grape juice, which I have not consumed since I was a kid.

That said, the aroma is more grape-forward than the flavor of this beverage. And while it does achieve its artistic goal, I found this to be less authentic and more of a representation of the idea of a grape, which is not uncommon with grape-flavored foods and drinks.

The carbonation level of this variety is bright without being overwhelming. It does have a hint of bitterness that lingers. This is common with carbonated beverages and a byproduct of the chemical reaction between water and the carbon dioxide it is infused with. This is something I don't mind but is a frequent complaint some people have about carbonated water. Overall, this flavor was good, but it was not my favorite.

12. Watermelon

The watermelon-flavored Waterloo screams summer when you crack open the can. Again, this is not by accident but by design. The focus of the flavor artists when developing this variety was on capturing freshly sliced watermelon segments served at a summer barbecue. Interestingly, it notes that the flavor evolved from a pure watermelon to one with a hint of citrus to temper the sweetness, which explains some residual acidity I detected when tasting it.

At first, the scent of fresh watermelon is very prevalent and refreshing. When you take a sip, the carbonation almost mutes the flavor. It is so bubbly that I lost a bit of the sweetness of the watermelon. What remained after allowing the water to swirl around my mouth a bit was that citrus-like acidity. It isn't off-putting but isn't very watermelon-forward, either. That said, I enjoyed this flavor, and as the carbonation began to fizzle out, it became more and more drinkable, with the watermelon resurfacing.

11. Peach

The inspiration behind the peach-flavored Waterloo came from the fruit grown in the Texas Hill Country. Peaches here have a distinctive flavor conferred by high levels of minerals and micronutrients in the soil. The sweetness of the fruit here is somewhat more pronounced than in other peach varieties because of the wide temperature swings from day to night, a feature of the higher altitude in the region.

It may seem silly to focus so heavily on the inspiration, but it is not. When I opened the can, I had a visceral experience of eating these peaches while in Texas. The smell was perfectly executed, instantly transporting me to a different time and place. Though the beverage begins by coating your tongue with that fresh-picked peach flavor, this quickly yields to the carbonation, which in my opinion, overwhelms the brightness of the peach slightly at first sip.

Ironically, I allowed this can to go flat for a few hours. The peach flavor was alive and even more prominent when I finally returned to drinking it. That's a distinctive feature of these carbonated waters. In some cases, the carbonation added to the flavor, while it distracted from it in others. This was the latter.

10. Cherry Limeade

The Cherry Limeade was another flavor that took me on a historical culinary escapade. This beverage encapsulated the old-fashioned flavors of a classic soda fountain. Carbonated beverages, laced with sweet syrups and tempered with phosphoric acid, were all the rage.

The combination of cherry with lime hearkens back to this era. Adding hints of pomegranate and orange provides a bit of a tannic undertone that mimics the phosphoric acid, rounding out the sweet and sour with a dash of bitterness. This flavor is quite complex and carefully curated, something I picked up on, even if cherry with lime is not my favorite combination.

While I love the cherry flavor, lime can often be somewhat astringent, and in this beverage, the lime was far more noticeable than the cherry, cutting any sweetness when you get past the aroma. Yet again, the flavor of this beverage mellowed as its carbonation dissipated, allowing the cherry notes to peek out from behind the lime and the tannic elements. I didn't dislike this flavor, but it wasn't my favorite, even if I did appreciate its complexity.

9. Strawberry

The task of capturing the flavor of strawberries is not a small feat to accomplish. So many different varieties exist, each bearing distinct characteristics depending upon the soil quality, weather patterns, and moisture of the regions they grow. The flavor artists at Waterloo sampled 100 unique varieties before landing on the ones that best represented the essence of the strawberry they were searching for. These berries came from either coast of the U.S. with a nod to strawberry-flavored gummy candy.

Unlike some other varieties, this Waterloo was very muted in the nose. The hints of strawberry were almost undetectable when I opened the can. Once I tasted this drink, the strawberry shone through, piercing beyond the carbonation, which was somewhat less aggressively bubbly than other flavors. It was sweet but not too saccharine, giving this flavor a pleasant aftertaste that lingered on our tongues. I'd recommend this flavor as a mixer for a summery twist on a mojito with fresh lime juice and mint.

8. Lemon-Lime

The lemon-lime flavor was a play on a classic lemon-lime soda sans sugar. My litmus test for this flavor involved how well it encapsulated the essence of lemon and lime in harmony. It does so quite well, though the lime is more prominent than the lemon in this variety.

When you open the can, you immediately get a strong lime aroma with the essence of freshly grated zest hitting your nose. The lemon is there but is slightly muted compared with the lime. The flavor is similar, with subtle notes almost reminiscent of a key lime pie recipe, without the sweetness.

Though this flavor is not sweet, it isn't noticeably acidic or bitter either. And its carbonation level is perfectly balanced, allowing the citrus to permeate the water without becoming overwhelmed. This sparkling water would be lovely used in a grown-up variation on a Shirly Temple with a hint of vodka and a splash of grenadine.

7. Tropical Fruit

Waterloo's Tropical Fruit sparkling water was launched in collaboration with Michelin-starred chef Curtis Stone. The inspiration for this flavor is an island vibe complete with crashing waves, warm sand between your toes, and the hot summer sun beating down on your brow. The base flavor of this tropical delight is blood orange, upon which pineapple and mango are layered for a nuanced, refreshing flavor. 

As I cracked this can open, the citrusy nose of the blood orange was immediately apparent. Though not as bubbly as some of Waterloo's other flavors, this variety does have a pleasant fizziness that doesn't mask the flavors or impart a residual salty aftertaste. As far as flavor goes, while pineapple, mango, and other exotic fruits may be present, they are less noticeable than the blood orange, which dominates from beginning to end. 

While I enjoyed this flavor available for a limited time, I felt it was slightly imbalanced. I wanted more of the exotic fruits to shine through, offsetting the slight hint of bitterness that can accompany citrus-flavored beverages. I could easily see incorporating this into a spin on a piña colada or combining it with vanilla ice cream for a tropical cooling treat. The only reason it didn't rank higher in my book is that I'm fond of pineapple and mango and would have preferred they make a more marked appearance in this drink.

6. Summer Berry

The inspiration for Summer Berry sparkling water is freshly picked summer fruit. While this beverage seeks to fuse multiple berry flavors, red raspberry is intended to be the superstar. In a cheeky nod to childhood, the flavor artists sought to capitalize on the "delight factor" of Berry-flavored candies. The result is a slice of Americana befitting any 4th of July block party. 

When I first popped this can open, its notable fizziness surprised me. As the bubbles began to subside, the assertive aroma of tart red raspberries sprung forward, enticing me to dive right in. While the flavors of the other summer berries are not detectable in the nose of this sparkling water, they do become evident in the taste. There is a harmonious balance of tart and subtle sweetness punctuated by just a hint of that candy-like pucker that makes you drool. 

This beverage is simultaneously refreshing and somewhat sweeter than the other Waterloo flavors I sampled, but not cloying. What I appreciated most was its bold berry notes that aren't shy. It would make for a perfect accompaniment to a sangria loaded with summer fruit. Its fidelity to the vision of the flavor artists and playful undertones landed this sparkling water well ahead of others, though not quite in the top five on my ranking.

5. Pineapple

If you want to be transported to the sandy beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii by sparkling water, this is the flavor for you. Pineapple-flavored beverages are often synthetically saccharine, bearing little resemblance to the fruit. This sparkling water is different. Somehow it captures the unique combination of sweet, tannic, tart, and vanilla-kissed flavor and aroma of a freshly cut, perfectly ripe pineapple.

The aroma is bright and shines through immediately when you open the can. It almost has the intoxicating smell of fermented or alcoholic pineapple. The flavor is similarly juicy, with a hint of sweet and sour that puckers your mouth. The carbonation in this variety is perfectly balanced, just effervescent enough to highlight the pineapple without muting it.

The possibilities are virtually endless for this flavor of Waterloo. It is delicious on its own, but I imagine it is ideal to add to a mai tai to tone down the sweetness or to a classic piña colada to create something akin to a pineapple-inspired cream fizz.

4. Ginger Citrus Twist

Though the inspiration for this flavor is said to be a combination of ginger ale and ginger beer, what this beverage achieves is far more elaborate. I didn't rank it here because it is a sparkling water I would want to drink daily, but because it is so unusual I could not stop tasting it.

The star of this beverage is unequivocally fresh ginger. From the moment you pop the can open, the aroma of spicy ginger hits you over the head. It demands to get noticed, and it does. The citrus element doesn't appear until you taste this beverage, at which point its acidity and slight sweetness help tame the spiciness of the fresh ginger. Unlike some other flavors, this beverage is best at peak carbonation, where the strong bubbles provide a delivery vessel for the ginger to make its way into your mouth without being too potent.

As I allowed this to sit and it began to lose its carbonation, I found the ginger flavor became slightly too aggressive. With that, this would be the ideal drink to soothe an upset stomach or as a mixer for a non-alcoholic Moscow mule. I could also imagine this beverage being an intriguing flavor boost added to an Asian-inspired BBQ sauce.

3. Raspberry Nectarine

The combination of tart, sweet raspberries with juicy, rich nectarines is a seemingly unusual mash-up but one that I was eager to try. When I first cracked the can of Raspberry Nectarine open I was surprised at how well-balanced the two fruits were in the aroma of this sparkling water. Often, one fruit has more dominant notes than the other. This was not the case here. Both the raspberry and nectarine shone through, which was refreshing and had a summery vibe. The carbonation of this sparkling water appeared to be slightly less effervescent than some of the other flavors, which, for those who prefer their water less fizzy, may be just what the doctor ordered. 

Like the aroma, the flavor of this beverage is quite harmonious with the slightly tangy, sweet nectarine tempering the tannic elements inherent in the raspberries. While this may sound odd, this drink almost has a chewiness, like some red wines, including Nebbiolo, Shiraz, and Tempranillo varieties. This is often a byproduct of tannins, which makes sense given the tannic nature of raspberries. In this case, it is not overwhelming but quite satisfying. This sparkling water would be an ideal accompaniment to grilled meats with strong smoky elements and rich umami flavors. 

2. Blackberry Lemonade

If you love flavored freshly-squeezed lemonade, this Waterloo variety will be your speed. Its ability to embody the brightness of freshly squeezed lemons with the subtle tart and jammy notes of blackberry is well executed. It is complex, refreshing, and nuanced, and I couldn't get enough of it.

The aroma of this drink begins with the essence of lemons, slowly yielding to blackberry. The flavor starts with the crisp acidity of lemons but quickly mellows into the richness of perfectly ripe blackberries, with a hint of sweetness and tanginess. The balance of carbonation in this drink is ideal, enhancing the flavor instead of muting it. And though it was best fully carbonated, it did not lose its flavor markedly as its fizziness dissipated.

It might sound strange, but I have made pancakes using lemon-lime soda in the past with fresh blueberries. The carbonation yields delightfully fluffy pancakes, and the combination between lemon and blueberry is classic. I could easily see using this flavor of Waterloo in a similar pancake recipe and topping this with a blackberry compote for the ultimate Sunday brunch extravaganza.

1. Black Cherry

I mentioned earlier that I enjoyed cherry flavors but felt the lime overwhelmed it in the Cherry Limeade. Thankfully I got my redemption with the Black Cherry Waterloo, which topped this list as our favorite flavor. The rich plummy cherry in this sparkling water is far more marked than the fruit in the other flavors.

From the moment you smell this drink, the cherry is prominent and remains so in taste. This variety was the sweetest of the Waterloo sparkling waters, with deep, dark cherry resonating across our tongues with every sip. The carbonation is moderate, allowing the fruit to shine through.

Waterloo mentions one of its aims in creating its flavors being sessionability,meaning easy to drink multiple times a day. This flavor achieves this goal in spades. I'd drink it over and over again. And I can think of myriad ways to incorporate it into recipes, like a sparkling cherry ice cream float topped with fresh cherries or an iteration of a Kir Royale with crème de cassis.


Waterloo Sparkling Water provided all of the products I sampled for this ranking. As a chef, I approach my tastings holistically, factoring in my senses and cross-referencing my perceptions with the manufacturer's intentions. Waterloo Sparkling Water has a dedicated and expansive flavor artistry team that provides detailed information on how each variety came to be. I tasted each variety before reading these flavor notes to prevent preconceptions, referring to them only after I had assessed each beverage. I also evaluated these beverages at room temperature rather than refrigerated, as cooler temperatures can mute certain flavors and aromas. Finally, I sampled the beverages immediately after opening them and after the carbonation had the opportunity to fizzle out to determine if the flavor and aroma were more or less intense with fewer bubbles.

My criteria for ranking these beverages from Waterloo Sparkling Water included how well each variety captured the intentions of the flavor artists, how unique each drink was, and my overall enjoyment. That said, I did rank some beverages higher than others even if they may not have been my favorite flavor combinations but were something unique that I believe others may enjoy. Finally, where applicable, I noted any considerations for each beverage, such as if they would pair well with a particular dish or work effectively in a recipe.