I also have a really mixed set of feelings about intentionally limited-quantity product releases. I've spent most of my life working in the marketing field, so my level of skepticism is pretty high. I have to intentionally temper it with what I know to be true: intentionally limiting quantity CAN increase quality. It can also drive demand. If something is limited, it makes its owner feel special. And it sort of remains to be seen whether it is truly a "special" product or not, but knowing I am the only one of a few hundred people who have it, well, it does have a mental effect on me...which I sometimes resent since I'd like to think I'm above the fray. (I'm not.)
I missed out on the release of Five Pawns' Castle Long Reserve. It was gone before I had enough money sitting around to place an order. So when I saw that Gemini Vapors was releasing a limited-edition liquid, I was glad to be 'in the know' enough to get on board. I wanted to try two things with this e-liquid. First, I wanted to see what I could discern from a barrel-steeped liquid. Secondly, I simply wanted to know what a more exclusive flavor tasted like. So I bought a bottle of Gemini Vapors' Phillip Rocke Grand Reserve Creme de la Creme. Good grief that name alone is a mouthful.
The shipping from Gemini was very fast. I'd attempted to order my bottle from The Drip Club, but due to website problems they were having with their e-commerce system, that was a no go. But Gemini had apparently kept a few bottles to sell themselves and that's where I got mine from. It arrived in 2 days via good ol first class mail. And I was more than a little stoked to try it last night.
I had a good feeling that this would be a solid flavor for me. I LOVE rich flavors. As I mentioned in my Five Pawns writeup, I love all the Five Pawns flavors simply for this one aspect. I'm on my second bottle of Grandmaster and a good way through a bottle of Bouden's Mate. I like flavors that feel thick to me. Not thick in terms of viscosity, but thick in terms of depth of flavor. I like what might be considered "dessert vapes" but I don't like things overly sweet. So back to the Phillip Rocke.
Apparently Phillip Rocke is the name of the dude that started Gemini Vapors. So this is his personal creation. The sales pitch on the Grand Reserve Creme de la Creme is that it includes notes of Arabica coffee, hazelnut, and cream. And that the finished product was steeped in used brandy barrels for several months.
First off, I am shocked to report that I actually both smell and taste a touch of brandy in this. I honestly believed that steeping in barrels was likely more gimmick than it was effective. But unlike Five Pawns' Reserve, which I think was steeped in unused oak barrels, this was supposedly steeped in used brandy barrels. So if true (and I don't have reason to doubt it since I think I can actually taste it) then it stands to reason that some of that flavor would permeate the juice. And if my taste buds don't deceive me, I'd say it worked and worked WELL.
I love this flavor. I expected I would. But I might say that it is even better than I expected it to be. I sat and vaped it all evening last night and it is rich and creamy. At times, it felt like a very sublime creamy caramel and at other times I could get a strong sense of the coffee. There is zero bitterness to this juice, but it isn't overly sweet either. There are times when there is one flavor note, that I think is the barrel steeping, that pops its head up that I'm sure is brandy. On the negative side, that one flavor note, like brandy, can be just the tiniest bit cough-syruppy. But that is what truly makes me believe that the steeping worked. Because I always feel this way about brandy. That said, this juice would NOT be the same without it. And I think I'd really still love the flavor, but that complex added flavor does seem to provide a depth that made me keep going back to it over and over last night.
So where do I stand on this? Well, it's sold out. So my one bottle has to last me. If they make more, I would recommend it. Especially to anyone who likes rich flavors. I'm still torn on how I feel about limited edition flavors. It is a bit annoying to think that if this was my end-all favorite flavor, I may never get it again. Then again, as fast as the market seems to be filling up with a guzzillion juice companies out there, I'll have 14 more options of things to try next week. In that regard, this little venture was fun. And I'll enjoy pulling the Phillip Rocke out on special evenings when I feel like a change of pace in my little dripper.