"Monin Rocks!" - Really?
I have seen this on my Facebook timeline. And well... I wanted to write about Monin since quite a long time, but haven't. However this message was a catalyst, to speak up.
It is already a couple of months ago, that I routinely checked the ingredient list of a Monin bottle.
...and was shocked....
Point is, that I have always defended Monin against my US colleagues as decent brand. At least with the products they offered here in the Middle East and in Europe; they came from their factory in France. Most of the ingredients [except lets say in Blue Curacao syrup] were natural. Long time ago, somebody from Monin explained, that this is due to the quite strict regulations in France for syrup - there it is a family culture to drink syrup sweetened water/seltzer. And off course especially for the kids, even the government doesn't want to promote artificial stuff.
I always liked to reduce anyway the use of syrups and stuck to syrups which really made sense... however I also enjoyed not add one more task in doing a housecrafted syrup - given that Monin was there.
Not all products were equally good - gomme was stellar! Strawberry, pomegranate, lime cordial, caribbean syrup, cherry and passion fruit were really good. Elderflower, mint, peach were ok. Cucumber, raspberry and some more flavors were quite poor [to be diplomatic].
Well dark clouds darkened my blue sky...
I guess since this year, Monin is sending syrups from a factory from Malaysia to the UAE - hence the products are not coming anymore from France.
Why does it matter? As in the United States, also Malaysia doesn't have very strict laws, when it comes to syrups and allowed fruits.
Means, that you are now reading on each Monin bottle: nature identical flavors.
What is the difference between natural flavors and nature identical flavors?
Well - by food laws, natural flavors have to derive from natural products [strawberry flavor e.g. doesn't need necessary be made from strawberries and can be made from wood shavings - hey at least it is natural] - nature identical flavors usually coming out of a chemical factory and haven't seen anytime nature in their existence. These are flavors, which are produced synthetically. Yes- the molecules might be the same as the molecules, which you can find in nature, and are responsible for one specific nuance of a specific fruit/vegetable/herb [...] - but it is synthetically produced.
Artificial flavors are also synthetical... but might taste like something you know, but the molecule responsible for the taste, will be different, as in the natural stuff. However the production of a nature identical flavor will be the same as the production of a artificial flavor [hence even if it is called natural identical flavors they are artificial]. Don't be
Why is Monin doing it? This is pretty easy to explain: PROFIT! Nature identical flavors are cheap. If you buy one kilo, you can flavor maybe a palette of syrups - fruits are much more expensive, perishable, inconsistent.
It is personal - but I have a huge aversion against artificial ingredients in my food/drinks! I believe that these ingredients make your sick over short or long. Nothing against to eat or drink something once in a while to try it. However eating/drinking it all clock around is definitely not healthy. There is little facts to support my theory, but people can talk so long about the harmlessness of HFCS, MSG, artificial colors, artificial flavors and natural identical flavors... however it might turn out completely different, if these things are tested in a couple of years.
Back to Monin. I feel kind of offended [and sorry guys, who represent Monin here, and grew as friends - it is nothing against you - but, hell, truth has to be told]! I defended a brand, which just waited to expend into another market, to throw all their virtues away!
And no: Monin is not the only syrup producer who uses artificial things! Every big syrup company is doing that! The difference is, that Monin was THE big company, who didn't do it!
For the moment I looking for different options: Giffard seems to use only natural ingredients. And for high volume syrups, which are not used in artisan cocktails, this could be an option.
D'arbo - a rather small producer from Austria who produces jam, honey, fruit conserve also has syrups. Not really the classic bar products, but they have elderflower [which is amazing - if they didn't changed their recipe in the last couple of years], forest berries etc. Unfortunately they don't yet supply the syrups to the UAE - but as they have a distributor here, I am just waiting for their samples/confirmation.
And: a lot of home made stuff.
One more time - my apologies to the guys, which might find this post as a big affront. It is not personal!
But yeah - I said it before, I do have the integrity to name the things, which are wrong in the business.
And here: Monin definitely not rocks!