At the vape convention, it seemed everywhere I turned, there was some sort of modernity to things. This was seen in the booths for Space Jam and Niquid among many others. There were numerous companies with a pretty modern look to them. Five Pawns was there with their straight-out-of-Restoration-Hardware vibe to them. It certainly seems that every premium juice company has a certain "vibe" to them, a personality that they envelope their product within to sell it.
But then there was one. In the middle of the most crowded room at Vape Blast was a company that I spotted from a mile away. Who were these dudes? They were dressed very well in dress coats, ties and vests. Their juice line was beautifully displayed in wood display boxes, each individual bottle with its own wax seal encasing it. Their labels and font choices bespoke age and refined quality. And so I gave them a try. They are Lazarus Vintage. As I've mentioned in two previous posts, there were a couple flavors that I really enjoyed. Their liquid has a depth of flavor that is unique. The word that keeps coming to mind when I try to find one is "adult." I think that is likely because I found myself most attracted to their flavors that have a sort of refined-spirit (as in alcoholic beverage) feel to them.
On the table outside of the large box containing their standard juice line was one special little box with one bottle in it. It was special. And therefore I had to have it. Far be it from me to not be entirely smitten with fine packaging and exclusivity. I came to find out that this special edition e-liquid was only being produced in a limited edition run of 60 bottles. That's right. SIXTY. And each one would come in its own little treasure box hand signed and numbered by the creators. I sort of immediately gave up on the far-fetched idea of actually getting my hands on one of them. That is, I gave up until last week.
I attended a kick-off party for Lazarus Vintage at Uptown Vapor Lounge in Tyler two weekends ago. And I follow Uptown on Facebook. It just so happens that I was knocking around on Facebook at work this week about 2 minutes after Uptown posted that they had 11 bottles of Sir James on their shelves to sell. By the time I'd actually dialed the phone number into my phone, they were down to 7 bottles. I paid for one over the phone and had them hold it for me. In the next few minutes, they were gone entirely. Bottom line: I just got lucky.
I spent the weekend this weekend debating whether or not to break the seal on this bottle and finally decided that I bought it to enjoy it. Not to let it be just a desk ornament. The fine box and empty bottle can accomplish that after I vape it all. So I carefully cut a fine line through the wax around the lid so that when I close it, it simply looks unopened. I rewicked my best dripping atomizer after cleaning it thoroughly and loaded it up with this fine elixir.
So what is Sir James 1776? I seem to recall that Lazarus's old website had tasting notes on the Sir James, but can't seem to find them tonight as I look for them. So I'm going completely off what I'm tasting.
So what do I taste? I taste coffee. I taste subtle cocoa. I taste caramel nuttiness. And there is an aftertaste of a fine liquor. This is a nice vape. It is an excellent vape. I'd buy this stuff all day long at $20 a bottle. But in my opinion, it is not a $39.99 vape. It's not that it isn't a magnificent liquid. It's just that I did the review of the Phillip Rocke Grand Reserve a while back that had almost the same flavor profile...and it was only $22 a bottle (a full $5.50 cheaper for a barrel-steeped reserve than a regular bottle of Five Pawns). There are certainly differences in these two liquids. Most noticeably is the extent of the coffee notes that I get. They are bold in the Phillip Rocke and more subdued in the Sir James. But vaping them side by side, they could easily be cousins, if not brothers. Both are barrel steeped. Both rich, but not overly sweet evening vapes.
And for the first time I find myself asking the hard questions that many people ask about Five Pawns. Is the packaging (and in this case exclusivity) worth the added price? For me, the Five Pawns is worth the price. I like the flavors and the price per mL is under $1. In this case, the price per mL is $1.33. That is the most expensive e-liquid that I've found anywhere. Or maybe it truly is under $1 per mL and I really am paying for packaging. I don't know.
All I know is this. At $22 for a 30mL bottle of Lazarus Vintage's Seven Wonders line, I feel like I'm getting a pretty fair deal. It's very good juice at a price I'm willing to pay. Is the Sir James worth almost twice that? Not in my opinion. It's on par with the quality of the rest of their line. And in fairness, it is my favorite flavor of theirs. I really am a fan of this flavor profile. I love caramels and coffees and chocolates and custards. I like rich vapes with depth to them. I like this juice. And I will enjoy it thoroughly, immensely in fact. It is very, very good. It's just not $39.99 good. And I'm not sure any juice really is.
That's the problem with really fine products. They sort of reach a point where it gets silly after a while. I can tell you the difference between a $5 and a $20 bottle of Cabernet, but you can put any number of bottles pricier than that in front of me and I'd never be able to tell you which is the most expensive one. I feel that way about e-liquid. I can tell you in a heartbeat the difference between a $22 bottle of Lazarus and a $4.99 bottle of Mt. Baker liquid. But that's it.
All this rambling to say, I think I may be done with the extra-ultra-mega-crazy-premium liquids. I do not feel like I got ripped off. For in the end, I got probably the coolest packaged juice I'll ever own. And I will keep my little wax-sealed chest proudly displayed with my vaping gear. I'm pleased I bought it. I'd probably do it again. Bah. As you can see, I'm conflicted on it...which usually means I spent too much.