In 2001, vodka distiller Pierre Smirnoff Ltd. started manufacturing and selling a malt liqour brew called Smirnoff ICE. It tastes kind of like alcohol-tainted Fresca, only better. Though it has 5.0% alcohol by volume, you can't taste a more than a mere hint of alcohol. Unlike beer and regular malt liqour, Ice is extremely fizzy and full of carbonation.
It comes in a clear glass bottle with a red Smirnoff label, only with the standard red Smirnoff Vodka logo replaced by one that reads, simply, "ICE." The beverage itself is the color of the long-forgotten diet drink Fresca, which is doubleplus cool because it glows under black light, feeding its own image as a club drink.
Like its malt liqour cousins OE 800 and Colt 45, Ice packs quite an alcoholic punch. After four of these I was dizzy, dancing, talkative, a drunken machine, and the next day, ICE left me with a hellacious hangover, just like its relatives are wont to do. However, unlike other malt liqours, ICE is not cheap. A six-pack cost me about $7.00 USD, and individual bottles at the pub went for $3.00 USD apiece. (Or $7.00 each at strip clubs, but that is to be expected.)
Ice is sold in many countries, including the USA, Canada, Brazil, the UK, Ireland, the Czech Republic and South Africa. In all countries but the USA, actual Smirnoff vodka is added to the malt liqour base. All versions (see below for a bit on the other versions of ICE) of ICE carry the same nutritional contents:
The non-USA addition of vodka doesn't change the base contents of the whole.
From the front of the new, slightly more elobate label:
- PREMIUM MALT BEVERAGE WITH NATURAL FLAVORS
BREWED & BOTTLED BY STE PIERRE SMIRNOFF FLS - FOGLESVILLE, PA
12 FL.OZ. - 5% ALC/VOL
In summary, Smirnoff ICE is a very pleasant, very tasty adult beverage. Even if you don't like beer, the taste of the stuff should appeal to you. In spite of the alcohol present, it felt like I was drinking a Diet Citra or something. This can create a problem as the alcohol can really creep up on you very quickly, so consume this stuff in a slow, leisurely fashion.
If you're into experimentation, pour one part grenadine into the bottle. Two great tastes that taste great together. Mmm-mmm-good.
Update -- February 2003: Smirnoff has added a new product to the ICE line; Smirnoff ICE Triple Black. According to the bottle, it offers a CRISP, CLEAN BITE. To me, it just tastes like Stolichnaya Citrona. I'm not certain if the use of the word "black" in the name is supposed to indicate the presense of blackcurrant juice in the drink, or what. It's completely clear (as opposed to the original Smirnoff Ice, which is a green/grey opaque), and definitely tastes fruitier than the original, but if it's supposed to taste like blackcurrant, it doesn't do a very good job. I'll stick with Ribena for use as a blackcurrant additive, thank you very much. In my not-so-humble opinion, the regular ICE is superior to Triple Black, at least in taste.
Smirnoff has also introduced another product in the ICE line -- several products, actually -- Smirnoff Twisted V is its name, and it comes in a variety of flavors, including (but not limited to) mandarin orange, black cherry, green apple, cranberry, and lemon. Of these I've tried only the orange, and it tastes pretty much like what regular ICE would taste like if orange extract was added to it.
Nutritional and distribution info obtained from http://www.smirnoffice.com/