On a typical 70 mile training ride I go through 4-6 bottles of water depending on the weather. Staying evenly hydrated is key to putting out solid numbers and I get noticeable dips when I dont drink or eat enough on the bike. The typical set up for most people is to start off with one bottle of regular water and one with a energy/electrolyte charged drink. Then if you are like me and dont have a team car following you with fresh bottles or a domestique handing them to you should you run out, when you are through the first two, the second pair is whatever you can scour from the roadside shops. But the first drink being an electrolyte one is good because it will help your body make the most of the water you drink as it binds water. Being a bit of a technocrat I punch through a lot of vitamins and additives since training a lot makes you sweat out a ton of minerals. And being a vegetarian for the past 12 years has put me on the path of a lot of funny supplements to the point where I absolutely dont mind using a sparkling tablet to make a drink over getting a prefab bottle. Quite the contrary actually since I’m in the past have found myself in a position where I have to store a shit ton of bottles for future use. And with enough bike parts piling up around the house I prefer the main staples being beer and energy gel : )
As far as taste goes I couldn’t be bothered with any specifics. Like I said, if you chew a lot of nutritions and supplements you know the vast majority of whats on offer tastes dodgy and you learn to run with it. Typically I consume one cliff bar and and pack of shot blocks when i’m out for 3-5 hours. But going through a series of water bottles and energy snacks over the course of 4 hours makes you appreciate any taste other than road grit and lip sweat. Especially when you start to zone out towards the end during a cold and rainy ride, stuffing some mystery flavor energy gel in your mouth makes all the difference. One word off advice on sparkling tablets however. If you have a sensitive bowel and usually react badly to the bubbly sort Nuun is probably not for you.