I was All Set to Rip These Two Cheap Spirits…

A 750 ML bottle of Jacquin’s Royale 100 Proof Vodka and a liter of London Tower Gin came to a total of $15. I found them at a liquor store in the “Made in Pennsylvania” aisle two weeks ago. I had never seen either of these two items before. The only awareness of Jacquin’s I had was seeing their Rock & Rye in stores here in New Jersey. I didn’t know they forayed into the clear spirits (they also produced the aforementioned gin as well). For the price, and based on their names and logos, I was expecting them to be awful. So awfully awful that they would somehow eclipse this atrocity known as Military Special Rum. But I was wrong. I love it when I’m wrong. 

The gin was actually a joke gift for my dad who loves martinis and gin and tonics like myself. The vodka, I figured, would also be a kind of gag—a conversation piece and challenge for when friends come over. Firewater. Hey, I made my best friend almost burn his esophagus on that turpentine-flavored rum because I didn’t want to suffer alone.

I poured a hefty shot or two of the vodka into a rocks glass back at the hotel, added a splash of Rose’s Lime Juice, and filled it up with tonic. I sipped it slowly, expecting some overpowering mess. That feeling never came. Okay, I’m taking a sip of this straight. It was surprisingly smooth. I’m far from a vodka connoisseur. It’s probably the one major spirit I drink the least, but I thought it was as good as any other vodka I’ve had. Shoot me, right? But maybe you forget Grey Goose was once considered dog shit in the vodka world before a new marketing campaign and label/bottle design change turned them into a desired “luxury” product, even though it was, in fact, the same product as before.

As for the gin, it was no doubt named after the Tower of London. Sure, name your drink after an infamous dungeon, prison, and torture chamber. We’re off to a good start. I thought “torture” was going to be one of the adjectives I used to describe it. Back home, I poured my dad and I a couple of martinis with this stuff. On the nose, it smells like gin. Way better aroma than Fleischmann’s or Traveler’s Club, which I consider to be the absolute worst of the bottom shelf gins ever made. Upon tasting, yes, make no mistake, this is not a high-end product. It has a bite and kick you don’t get with the better gins. But hey, I found it comparable Seagram’s and Gilbey’s, and that’s just fine with me. Still, it’s better suited to a gin and tonic. There you won’t know the difference.

Now for the important part you’re all wondering: nope, no hangover.

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