It’s been ages since I got to write a head to head review and today’s is thanks to the lovely people over at Sweets Without. The Original aren’t on sale on the site but the Sugar Free are, as well as lots of other sugar free liquorice – it’s quite an easy sweet to make without sugar I think.
Both bags come from “Halva Ltd. A leading manufacturer of high quality fresh, soft licorice. Founded in 1931 and since continuously expanded into all different kinds of licorice offering traditional black, coloured and filled licorice”.
Both the bags I’ve got today are traditional black soft liquorice.
First up was the Original, the ingredients include syrup, sugar and labelled under flavours are licorice extract and the dreaded anise.
The liquorice looked pretty impressive. All fairly evenly sized and so slick and glossy they looked wet, they were a world away from the liquorice I’m used to eating in my Allsorts!
They felt slightly sticky to the touch too and had an extremely strong liquorice scent. I wasn’t lulled into a false sense of security this time round though, I learnt my lesson with the Nitpits.
The name delivered and they had a lovely texture, chewy but soft enough not to cause any problems for any fillings! Thankfully the liquorice was the stronger of the two flavours, there is a slight aniseed taste but it’s much more pleasant this time round – if the liquorice is the lead singer the aniseed is the backing singer, improving the star of the show without standing out too much itself (even if there are times when it tries!).
The liquorice flavour is a lot stronger than any I’ve found in British products but it’s very tasty. Although syrup and sugar are included in greater quantities than actual liquorice flavour, it doesn’t translate in taste. They don’t taste very sweet to begin with but they soon become addictive and I found myself chasing the sweet after-taste that came after every strong liquorice bite.
I really enjoyed these but you’d have to like liquorice to do so. If you’re not keen on liquorice or are expecting something Haribo-esque it’d be like getting a mouthful of Marmite when you think its Nutella. Good stuff though!
The ingredients in the sugar free bag are quite similar – just substitute any sugar for stevia and syrup for maltitol syrup. I did notice one difference though, in the original liquorice is only listed under flavourings but interestingly in the sugar free, actual liquorice extract is used.
They looked and smelt identical but felt sticker and almost wet to the touch. They felt slightly different in the mouth too, a few of the pieces had quite a firm feel but most were very soft – softer than the original – yet still chewy.
Strangely, despite including real liquorice extract as well as flavourings, this had a milder liquorice flavour than previously. That’s not to say I couldn’t taste the liquorice, I definitely could, it just tastes a lot more like the liquorice we’re used to in the UK rather than the super strong Finnish stuff.
The aniseed flavour that was more of an after-taste before seemed more pronounced. I don’t think it’s that the flavour itself was stronger, just that there was no strong liquorice masking it, but it was nicer than before with a more mellow flavour.
Despite containing no actual sugar, this seemed sweeter all round with a much smoother flavour rather than the hidden sweetness lurking in the original bag.
Much more in line of what I expect from liquorice, the sweeteners don’t taste artificial at all and gives it a more mellow, smoother all round flavour while still retaining the delicious strong liquorice. Very nice.
I’m surprised I preferred the sugar free version, I think this is in part due to my aniseed aversion and the fact the sweeteners counter the harsher flavours. Both were very enjoyable but of the two I’d choose the sugar free every time! You can get your own here.
Big thanks to Peter at sweetswithout.co.uk for providing the goodies. If you need any help picking sugar free sweets or chocolate he’s the man to ask!