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‘Like a liquidised My Little Pony’: Prime Hydration is €12.99 a bottle. Our wine critic joins a tasting

Teens are going wild for the soft drink being marketed by the YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI. It’s sending prices sky high. Is it worth the money?

I arrive at the home of The Irish Times’ drinks expert, John Wilson, and tell him that to get young people reading the paper we need to start reviewing Prime, the drink being marketed by the YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI.

“Okay, this is taking me a little bit outside my comfort zone,” Wilson says. “But I do all drinks.”

“I believe in you,” I say.

I put three brightly coloured bottles of Prime Hydration on the table – Lemon Lime, Blue Raspberry and Tropical Punch. He looks at them with trepidation and lines up six “tasting glasses”.


If you are a child or the parent of a child, you’ll know all about Prime. It was launched by YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI in a series of frenetic videos. There was a whole narrative behind it. Paul and KSI, once sworn enemies in the boxing ring (YouTubers box now), have become friends – product-shifting, dollar-eyed friends. Influencers did tastings. (They all love it.) TikTokers did dances with bottles of Prime. The duo did videos in which they surprise fans or engaged in hyperactive Prime-related high jinks. Just recently they signed a sponsorship deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

By accident or design, there’s also a scarcity issue. In the United States it retails at about $2.50 a bottle. In the UK, however, distribution was unreliable (it’s currently stocked by Asda), and in Ireland it isn’t officially distributed at all. So social-media folk began videoing themselves on the hunt for Prime. Rumours would spread about its availability. Children pestered their parents for bottles. Teens were videoed swarming supermarket shelves.

In Dublin I see Prime lined up in the windows of phone and vape shops selling for between €10 and €20 a bottle. People buy and sell full collections online. They even sell the empty bottles. (Kids apparently carry them, filled with water, for street cred.) Youngsters buy it on holidays, then sell it in the playground. The 13-year-old son of a friend says there’s an entrepreneurial genius in his school selling Prime for €1 a sip.

John Wilson decants the bottle of Prime into two glasses. He swirls his and then lifts it to his nose. I copy him

I bought my bottles of Prime in a phone shop in Dublin city centre where they were lined up proudly in the window. Ashwan, the young man behind the counter, told me they got 20 boxes of 10 from the US. They’re retailing at €12.99 a bottle.

“Where do you get your wine usually?” I ask John Wilson.

“Normally, it’s from a nice wine shop,” he says.

“So this is from a phone shop,” I say; “€12.99. Can you get a decent wine for €12.99?”

“You can get a very nice wine for that,” he says.

“Okay, so it should be good, if it’s going for those prices,” I reason.

We start with Lemon Lime. It’s in a bright-green plastic bottle. Wilson decants it into two glasses. He swirls his and then lifts it to his nose. I copy him.

“Jesus, that’s pungent,” I say, which isn’t how Wilson would put it.

This is how he puts it: “You get the lime in it. It’s a little bit confected, but it’s lime zest.”

Wilson asks if they’re supposed to be drunk at room temperature. (They’ve been in my backpack all day.) I don’t know. “I’ve heard from the parents of young people that they walk around with the same bottle for ages ... So I guess it’s always a bit room temperature.”

We drink. Wilson considers it carefully. “I was expecting something really fresh and acidic,” he says. “But actually it’s not. It’s quite sweetish ... I thought it’d be much fresher. I thought it might be a bit fizzy. It’s not fizzy at all. It’s quite flat and quite a bit sort of ... bleh.”

However, he also says: “It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever tasted.” So Prime Lemon Lime, The Irish Times says: “Not the worst thing I’ve ever tasted.”

Kelly Adams, owner of Bodega Foods in Cork, specialises in American groceries that are difficult to get in Ireland. “I was in the States at a few meetings with new suppliers, and that was the middle of January. One of the suppliers carried it. So I just brought back two cases, to get some extra traffic through the door.”

She wasn’t planning to sell it for exorbitant prices. “I was going to be that person [selling] it for a fiver, and then I got stung with the customs and the shipping. And there I was at €13.65 cost price, €15 selling.”

Adams has since reduced the price from €15 to €4.95. Why is there so much demand and so little supply? “Ireland is often forgotten about in marketing strategies. We’re this entity all of our own ... We are not the UK. But we’re an island. So often you’re going to have issues with suppliers and distributors getting things into the country ... I’m still working on getting a supply chain into Ireland directly from the manufacturer. They have a subsidiary in the UK, and they have one in America.”

I feel like a bunch of raspberries are beating up my tongue

The people who came for Prime weren’t her usual customer base. “A woman tried to come in and buy all of my stock. I had 58 bottles ... When I told her I wouldn’t sell her more than a couple she lost interest. She was obviously going to resell them.”

Wilson carefully pours Blue Raspberry Prime into two new glasses. “Oh, that’s a strange colour,” he says. (It’s a sort of cloudy bluish water.) “There’s no such thing as blue raspberry. It’s a made-up flavour.”

We sniff it. “Oh. That’s a really strong smell,” he says.

“I feel like I’m drinking it just by smelling it,” I say.

“Do we have to?” asks Wilson.

“We have to,” I say, firmly, conscious of our responsibility to our new readers: children.

He sort of gargles it. “That brings oxygen in, to bring out the flavour ... That’s what tasters do, except they would spit it out. I didn’t bring a spittoon.” He says this sadly. “That is ... pretty revolting actually.”

“I feel like a bunch of raspberries are beating up my tongue,” I say. “Like, just punching my tongue.”

“Yeah, but it’s not real raspberries either,” he says. “It’s sort of bubblegummy raspberry. You know when you get Opal Fruits?”

“It’s like someone has juiced an Opal Fruit!” I say. “Which do you prefer so far?”

“So far I’d prefer the Lemon Lime ... It’s lighter and feels a little bit fresher.”

I ask him what meals he’d pair with each, anticipating fish for the Lemon Lime and steak for the Blue Raspberry. “Candyfloss,” he says, after some consideration.

In an attempt to rustle up some moral panic, I contact Louise Reynolds of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute. Lots of people have been asking her about Prime.

For my son, doing his soccer or rugby training after school, a glass of low-fat milk would be a really good hydration drink

—  Louise Reynolds of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute

There are two variations: a “hydration” variety (which I am making John Wilson drink) and an “energy” variety. The latter contains about 200mg of caffeine, “equivalent to maybe two and a half strong espresso coffees”, so it’s not suitable for under-18s. It says so in small writing on the side of the bottle. Meanwhile, the hydration versions might be bad for your financial health, but they aren’t worse for biological health than most other drinks marketed at kids.

“They’re tapping into [the market for drinks] linked with endurance sports,” she says. “If you’re an elite athlete, and you’re training really hard, your team dietitian or sports nutritionist will recommend a drink, which would have some electrolytes in it – like the sodium and the potassium [that] we sweat out when training really hard.” Youngsters do not need such drinks. “For my son, doing his soccer or rugby training after school, a glass of low-fat milk would be a really good hydration drink.”

But the “hydration” version of Prime is relatively harmless, she says. “They’re very low in calories. They don’t contain sugar or caffeine. They’re gluten free. And they have amino acids, though you’ll get those anyway if you drink a glass of milk, or if you have a yogurt or a range of other protein-containing foods ... They have artificial sweeteners, which you would find in all of the diet drinks ... If your child comes home with [a bottle] I wouldn’t have a big row with them over it. Just say they’ve wasted their money.”

I am a little worried at this point that I’m destroying John Wilson’s palate. I ask him what would happen if he had to taste some wine after this. “This would ruin it,” he says, “because sweet-textured stuff on your mouth just is ... It’s not pleasant.”

John seems thoroughly dejected at this point. ‘I’ve just had six sips of it, and it’s so cloying I don’t want to try any more’

Tropical Punch is contained in a bright-red bottle. John pours it, and we stick our noses in. “That’s coconutty,” he says. “You get that sweet coconutty flavour.”

“I don’t even know if I want to taste this,” I say. “It smells a bit like perfume.”

“Oh, so you get me to taste it? Is that it?” he says.

We drink a mouthful each. It tastes like a liquidised My Little Pony. “That’s the worst,” I say.

“Completely. Yes. I think it would actually go three, two, one,” he says, pointing to Tropical Punch, then the Blue Raspberry and, finally, the winner, Lemon Lime.

“And I think that’s only okay to me because it’s like flat 7Up,” I say.

Wilson seems thoroughly dejected at this point. “I’ve just had six sips of it, and it’s so cloying I don’t want to try any more.”

“What if I told you there was three more flavours?” (There are actually five more.)

I see fear on his face, so I add: “I don’t have them with me.”

“That’s for the next session,” he says bravely, aware of the youth demographic I wish to court.

“I’m just going to have one last taste of each one,” I say. I drink a sip of each. “Yeah, it’s all terrible ... Thank you, John, for your time. I hope this hasn’t ruined your ability to taste wine.”

“For the rest of my life?” he says, with sadness in his eyes. “I hope not.”

Patrick Freyne

Patrick Freyne

Patrick Freyne is a features writer with The Irish Times