We tested the overhauled drinks Truly rolled out to challenge White Claw’s hard-seltzer dominance and found they were a huge improvement

The new Truly hits shelves in early November. Bethany Biron/Business Insider

While the new and improved Truly hard seltzer doesn’t hit shelves until early November, Business Insider got a preview from Truly founder and developer Casey O’Neill herself.

Our consensus? The reformulated recipe is much better than the original.

The biggest difference is the removal of the bitter aftertaste, with its occasional hint of aluminium and an occasionally unpleasant lingering alcohol taste. The flavours themselves are also dramatically different and more powerful – all 13 Truly varieties were enhanced to be “bigger, brighter, and bolder,” O’Neill said.

“Across the board, what we tried to do is bring out the aroma to make it bigger and more powerful,” O’Neill said. “By doing that, it’s just more juicy and upfront and more fruitful. Also because of that, you get less of the alcohol lingering and it finishes much more clean and refreshing.”

O’Neill said the reformulation took about three months and involved a process with more than 130 different trial recipes – at least 10 for each of Truly’s 13 flavours – and constant taste testing before arriving at the final product. While O’Neill and select members of her team were sampling multiple times each day, she would also hold regular full office tastings at 7 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Additionally, Truly held taste tests with nearly 2,000 consumers both at their office in Boston and at cities across the US.

For the sake of comparison, members of the Business Insider retail team sampled both old and reformulated versions of a select mix of flavours, including lemon, mango, wild berry, black cherry, and blueberry & acai. We also tried Truly’s brand-new watermelon & kiwi flavour, slated to debut with the reformulated flavours in early November.

Here’s what we thought.

We started by setting up two rows for each flavour — one for the old recipe and another for the reformulated beverage so we could experience the difference firsthand.


Let the pouring begin.


O’Neill said her primary focus was enhancing the flavours to give the drink more impact. “It’s basically making it more complex,” she said. “If something is more complex, it comes off as bigger.”


Some of the shifts were markedly dramatic. While the change between blueberry & acai was a bit more subtle, wild cherry and mango, for example, tasted completely different.


“We focused on bringing out more of the different berry notes, and using different types of those berries,” O’Neill said, explaining the updates to the wild berry flavour. “The finish itself has to do with the alcohol base and just really making sure you know the fermentation really well.”

That shift was ultimately for the better. The Business Insider team unanimously liked the new version significantly more.


“It hits a totally different part of my tongue,” one taster said. “It tastes more fruity. They did a good job.”

“It tastes much different and less chemically,” another colleague said.

We also tried the new watermelon & kiwi flavour, which was quite pleasant. As O’Neill noted, it has an element of infused spa water to it.


Another colleague said she still prefers White Claw, but was impressed by the new Truly.


“White Claw is still better,” she said. “Truly still tastes a bit medicinal, but it’s a lot less noticeably bitter, the alcohol is a lot less stringent, and the flavours taste a lot less artificial.”

Ultimately, only time will tell if the new formula has the ability to beat out White Claw as the best-selling hard seltzer.