Today I noticed something I had never seen before. Behind the counter, hiding beside the vodkas on the bottom shelf, I saw an uninteresting bottle labeled “Mild Imperial Spirit”. This obviously interested me, so I purchased a bottle for £9.99. The off-license doesn’t let you pay by card unless you spend over £10, but the lovely woman made an exception this time.
When I got home I poured myself a glass and read the label. It was at this point that I realised why this drink is called Mild Imperial Spirit. It only has an alcohol content of 30%. Thirty fucking percent! I could have walked 10 minutes down the street and bought a 37.5% bottle from Tesco for 2p cheaper, but now I’m stuck with this silly little drink. This is vodka with 1/4 of the alcohol missing! As far as I’m concerned it’s a mixed drink.
When I said the bottle was uninteresting, I wasn’t lying. Rolov comes in a plain bottle with a red cap, and has a white label with (mostly) black text. The label seems to only contain what is legally required. It appears to be made by a company named “Strathendrick Vintners”, but a Google search of the name returns no results whatsoever. Whoever makes this drink clearly doesn’t like to give out more information than necessary. From my understanding of vodka, it is made by distilling it to around 95%, then watering it down to the required strength. This means somebody has went to all the effort of distilling vodka, then said “Yeah, just fire in more water. It’ll be fine.”
Rolov Mild Imperial Spirit is a colourless drink which lies about being vodka. In the bottle it smells like regular cheap vodka. When poured into a glass it smells like acetone mixed with water. On the first taste, Rolov is quite flavourless and neutral with a slight but firm burn on the way down. It certainly isn’t tasty, but you can swallow it without instantly vomiting. After about 10 seconds, the inside of your mouth will begin to writhe and burn, while an overwhelming taste of hot plastic cripples every exhaling breath you take. After two glasses you’ll have a splitting headache and no will to drink, but you’ll know you need to finish up, otherwise you’ll be left with more for another day.
When I picture this drink being made, I imagine some kind of machine which twists giant sheets of plastic until vodka juices out. Kind of like how you would juice an orange, but with plastic instead. I know that isn’t how plastic works, but I can’t imagine how else you would make a drink like this. I didn’t think you could create a spirit which is less alcoholic than vodka, burns more, and tastes worse, but the boys at Strathendrick Vintners have found a way.
Booze Review rating: