TypeEnergy drink
Country of originCzech Republic
VariantsOriginal, Forte, Light

Semtex is a brand of energy drink manufactured in the Czech Republic by Pinelli since 1995, and was the first such drink to be produced in the country.[1][2] The drink gained notoriety after taking its name from Semtex, a well-known plastic explosive, which is also of Czechoslovak origin.[3]


Semtex was introduced in 1995 by the Pinelli company, which had been formed in 1993 in the town of Čáslav,[4] and which also produced juices and fruit drinks. Over the following decade, Red Bull became the market leader in both the Czech Republic and neighbour Slovakia, with Semtex the second strongest seller, providing Pinelli with most of its sales.[2][5] Semtex was also exported to Hungary, Austria, Germany and Russia. On 22 April 2011, Pinelli was taken over by the Kofola Group, the largest soft drinks producer in the Czech Republic.[4]

In 2005, Russia's consumer protection agency refused to extend Semtex's production licence due to fears that it could be harmful to consumers' health. New regulations were introduced in Russia limiting stimulants in energy drinks to two for non-alcoholic drinks, and Semtex contains several such additives. Furthermore, it was claimed that Semtex products did not display adequate warnings about excessive consumption.[6]

Name controversy

The drink is named after Semtex – a popular plastic explosive also invented and produced in the Czech Republic by Explosia a.s., a subsidiary of Synthesia. According to Pinelli's director Květoslav Srovnal, the name inspired "a feeling of activity and motion".[3] In late 1994, Pinelli applied for a trademark to gain exclusive use of the Semtex name for food and drinks, after which Synthesia applied for a universal trademark for the name with regard to all products – prior to this the company only owned the Semtex trademark for the explosives sector.[7] Synthesia subsequently sued Pinelli for copyright infringement, and a company spokesman claimed that it was "unfair competition", and that an important reason for Pinelli's success was due to the use of the Semtex name.[3] Pinelli had offered to donate a percentage of the drink's profits to a charity of Synthesia's choice, but Synthesia ultimately refused before filing the lawsuit. Srovnal dismissed the refusal of the offer as a "typical socialist management tactic".[7]

In 2002, the two companies decided to settle financially and Pinelli were issued with a licence to use the Semtex name on their drinks products.[8] After splitting from Synthesia, Explosia later threatened to sue Madonna for the use of the Semtex name in her film production company Semtex Girls, but later relented.[9]


Two basic versions of Semtex drink are available: original Semtex and the sugar-free Semtex Light with artificial sweeteners.[4] Other variants including Semtex Junior, a children's version which lacked stimulants, Semtex Hot (with chilli and ginger) and Semtex Ice (with mint) are no longer available. Until 2012, a stronger version called Semtex Forte was available before being replaced by the similar Semtex Crazy. Semtex Cool, which is green in colour, was also introduced at this time.[10]

Two sizes of original Semtex are produced – 250 ml and 500 ml. Semtex Light (like the discontinued Semtex Forte) is only available in 250 ml cans, which are 132 mm long and 52 mm in diameter.


Semtex contains the maximum allowed amounts of caffeine and taurine, while the Semtex Forte version contains a higher concentration of glucuronolactone.[11]

Key ingredients per 100 ml

Semtex Semtex Forte
Caffeine 32 mg 32 mg
Taurine 400 mg 400 mg
Glucuronolactone 240 mg
Inositol 20 mg
Vitamin C 20 mg
Folic acid 0.06 mg
Niacin 5.4 mg 8 mg
Pantothenic acid 1.8 mg 2 mg
Vitamin B2 0.5 mg
Vitamin B6 0.6 mg 2 mg
Vitamin B12 0.002 mg
Colourants E 150,
E 104
E 150


  1. ^ "Energydrinky Semtex a Erektus bude vyrábět Kofola". Eurotýden (Czech). 26 April 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Kofola acquired Pinelli, producer of energy drinks Semtex and Erektus". Kofola Group. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "What's Next In This Line, Scud Cola?". New York Times. 9 November 1995. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "PINELLI, spol. s r.o." Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  5. ^ "Semtex and Kamikaze follow Red Bull charge". Just-drinks. 4 October 2005. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Russia bans Czech energy drinks". foodnavigator. 11 March 2005. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Semtex: From high-profile explsove to high-energy drink". The Prague Post. 6 September 1995. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Explosives firm weighs steps against Madonna over Semtex". Radio Praha. 3 February 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Madonna escapes Semtex lawsuit". Irish Examiner. 12 April 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  10. ^ "Semtex explosive energy drink". Behance. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Semtex Forte energy drink". Retrieved 23 February 2012.