Travis Scott is as big as most any brand out there. He’s dominating the hip-hop space, burning up the streetwear scene with his Cactus Jack label, making moves in the virtual world, and he’s even dabbled in the fast-food universe. So it should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody that now Scott is lending his dusty desert aesthetic to a spiked seltzer — another extremely popular cultural fixture.
CACTI is made in collaboration with Anheuser-Busch and is Scott’s answer to White Claw. Don’t be fooled (or charmed) by the sound of “agave spiked seltzer,” though. CACTI is made from water, fermented cane sugar, a hint of lime juice, and agave syrup — it doesn’t have tequila in it. It’s basically the same ingredient set as White Claw and Truly. But it’s made way sweeter by thanks to that agave syrup, which also means it’s about double the calories of those other brands.
The upshot is that at 7% ABV, it’s a lot stronger. You’ll feel the buzz after a single can — definitely a good thing when each serving is 150 calories.
CACTI is brewed in Los Angeles and available in just three flavors as of now — Lime, Pineapple, and Strawberry. It’s dropping in a 9-count 12-oz variety pack, as well as 16oz and 25oz jumbo cans (only available in Lime and Pineapple). We got our hands on a case and decided to see how it stacks up to the competition in the over-saturated spiked seltzer market.
Is this a legit attempt at a worthwhile beverage or a simple cash-grab?
Before we dive into each flavor, special mention has to be given to the packaging of CACTI. It matches Travis Scott’s dusty desert vibe perfectly, which helps to drive home that you’re drinking Travis Scott’s spiked seltzer and not something else. The cans themselves have a nice matte finish to them that would make Marques Brownlee weep with joy. It’s not the most important thing in the world but it really sets you up for a positive experience.
Before I cracked a can open I wanted to like it, just because I loved the way the packaging looked and felt. That’s kind of genius! But only really matters if the product delivers from a flavor standpoint.
CACTI — Strawberry
On the nose, the strawberry flavor is superior to every other flavor in the CACTI line. It’s akin to a basket of freshly washed in-season strawberries from the grocery store. Unfortunately, that’s where the association with anything remotely natural ends, because on the palate, CACTI Strawberry is a candied disaster.
Okay, maybe “disaster” is too strong but this tastes overly sugary. It’s no wonder why the strawberry is the only flavor to not release in larger size options — getting through a can feels like a chore.
While the initial blast of a freshly opened can is a bit overwhelming, once this flavor mellows out a bit it becomes a little more palatable. At its best (midway through the can, still cold), it tastes exactly like what a strawberry Jello-shot made with bottom-shelf vodka tastes like.
The Bottom Line
If you live for sweet drinks, this is certainly one of the sweetest spiked seltzers on the market. But if you hate Jello-shots, stay far away from this brew.
CACTI — Lime
Each of the CACTI seltzer flavors features a drop of lime juice, so they’re doubling-up on the lime here and it pays off! I was initially wary as to whether I’d like the Lime, as it presented almost no aroma when I cracked open a can. But I was pleased to find that this was a considerable step up from Strawberry.
The flavors just gel so much more harmoniously here, the lime juice and “natural flavoring” is the perfect complement to the blue agave syrup, resulting in a smooth, highly vegetal expression that really sets itself apart from other lime flavored seltzers. Where White Claw and Truly’s lime seltzers are spikey and tart, CACTI Lime is like syrup, it almost begs for an additional shot of a good vodka or tequila.
Which we’d recommend if a single can of CACTI wasn’t enough to get you buzzed. It definitely is.
Highly vegetal and grassy, it has a peppery bite that lingers.
CACTI — Pineapple
If I had to choose a single flavor of CACTI to bring home it would be… Lime, just because it’s more versatile. But if I’m ever reaching for a single can? It’s going to be Pineapple, which tastes the best as a standalone product. Cracking open a can reveals heavy tropical notes. It doesn’t recall the sharp tart qualities of pineapple so much as the rounder qualities of mango.
On the palate, CACTI Pineapple feels a little one-note — a bit like unripened pineapple — but the finish is sweeter and conjures a custom-made pineapple Jolly Rancher. The fact that this will get you buzzed is sinful, this is straight-up candy as an alcoholic beverage. And unlike the strawberry flavor, the sweetness here actually works.
Sweet but not to its detriment. Among the other CACTI flavors, Pineapple is easily the best.
Grab a 9-pack case of CACTI here.
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