The EJuice Review Conundrum

conundrum 06I started this website shortly after I started vaping. I’d been smoking tobacco cigarettes for over 40 years. Once I got serious about vaping (read that, once I realized that Blu electronic cigarettes didn’t cut it and moved on to a refillable model) I put down the tobacco and haven’t smoked since. I quickly realized what thousands of vapers had already learned, that vaping was the best means of quitting tobacco. And I figured there were millions of smokers still out there who hadn’t heard about or given vaping a chance. So I switched Seven Report to a vaping website. (It had originally been a parody news site, but I really hadn’t gotten it off the ground and my new found passion for vaping was crying for an outlet.)

Thinking through what Seven Report would cover, I figured it would be a good place to share my own story and journey through the world of vaping as a means of helping others who were new to it like myself. I’d also invite and solicit others to share their own stories on Seven Report. And reviews. I’d do reviews. Hardware reviews would be limited, at least at first, to what I could afford to buy (and, hopefully, with a little time and growth I’d be able to score review samples of mods and tanks and whatnot from manufacturers). And of course there would be ejuice reviews. Ejuice was one thing I knew I would be buying on a regular basis, so getting product to review would be fairly easy (and easy on the budget). And thanks to folks like Skull & Raven and Stella Blues Vapors, who have been early believers in what we’re doing at Seven Report and have supplied review samples of their ejuices, I’ve been able to maintain a pretty healthy publication schedule of ejuice reviews.

But doing ejuice reviews turned out to be tougher than I first expected. Choosing which ejuice to review is pretty simple, I just buy some flavors I’d like to try and review them, or I review whatever flavors ejuice companies are willing to send to me for that purpose. The vaping is a pleasure. And I’ve been writing for more than 30 years and shooting videos for YouTube and other outlets for going on 20 years, so none of those elements of the review process have posed a problem.

conundrum 01The real conundrum is how to effectively, accurately and fairly convey how something tastes and smells via the written word and video. Because
the essence of ejuice (and the vaping experience) is the taste and aroma provided by the juice. Hardware reviews, by comparison, are a cinch, since so much of what you’re reviewing is quantifiable. A tank holds X ml of juice, a variable voltage mod has a range of X volts, coils are rated at specific ohms. Sure there are some subjective elements to hardware reviews, but the bulk of these pieces are made up of the objective.

Quite the opposite with ejuice reviews. Once you get past the nicotine level, PG/VG ratio, available sizes and price the rest is pretty subjective. And tastes vary greatly from one individual to the next. One person may love candy flavored ejuices and not care for those that are coffee flavored. The next guy might hate sweet ejuices and prefer tobacco based flavors. Give each of them the same chocolate ejuice to review and you’re likely to get two very different results.

conundrum 05Complicating matters even further, two identically named ejuices mixed by different companies can have extremely different tastes. Sometimes that’s due to where in the world the ejuice maker is based, cause different areas have different tastes and naming conventions. There seems to be two major schools of thought or conventions when it comes to naming ejuice. The first is the simple, straight forward approach; name the ejuice after what it tastes like or its primary flavor ingredient. This method gives us ejuices with names like “Peach,” “Butterscotch,” and “Cola.” Multi-flavored ejuices can also be named using this method, such as “Raspberry Lemonade,” “Caramel Cheesecake,” and “Cherry Cola.”

The second major convention is to use a name that attempts to capture something of the essence of the ejuice but is more concerned with being creative than descriptive or literal. From this method we get ejuices with names live “Nevermore,” “The Governor,” and “Sexy Beach.” And then there are some ejuice names which use a combination of the two, a creative term paired with a literal term to give us ejuices like “Old Time Tobacco,” “Twisted Fruit,” and “Blueberry Breakfast.”

Sometimes you’ll get a little hint as to what ejuices are supposed to taste like from the category the company has placed them in. But most of the time you’ll need to read the product description to get an idea of what these flavors are supposed to be, and even then you can’t always be sure.

conundrum 03Let me illustrate with a non-ejuice example. I grew up in north Jersey (that would be New Jersey, for my friends in the UK) and moved away while I was still in high school. In the late 80s I took a job in radio on Long Island, NY and moved my family back east. One of my first days on the Island I went into a deli and ordered a coffee, something I imagined would be a fairly simple transaction.

The deli man asked me, “Regular coffee?” Now, I take my coffee black, and to me that’s “regular.” And, I surmised, “regular” would mean the simplest way to prepare a cup of coffee. What could be less complicated? You pick up the pot and pour some coffee in a cup–order filled. So I answered in the affirmative.

What the deli guy gave me was a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. “Hey,” I said, “I wanted ‘regular.'” “Yeah,” deli man answered, “I gave you ‘regular,’ cream and sugar. That’s ‘regular.'” Lesson learned. To get the most basic cup of coffee I would have to place the most intricate order, stating not only what I wanted, “coffee,” but also what I did not want, “black, no sugar.” Finding an ejuice that you like can be a lot like ordering coffee in a Long Island deli.

The hope here at Seven Report is that our reviews will help you make a more informed decision about choosing an ejuice, and maybe introduce you to flavors and companies you otherwise might not have tried or even heard of. Of course no review can actually fully convey flavor and aroma. For that you need to trundle on down to your local vape shop and try the ejuice. But even that doesn’t guarantee you’re going to love a new flavor once you’ve gotten it home and vaped a tank or two, or that the juice that just didn’t grab you in the store won’t turn out to be a favorite if you’d just give it a chance.

conundrum 04Don’t get me wrong, I love that most vape shops allow you to sample ejuice. It’s just that the tanks and batteries you’re using in the store to sample the juice are probably different than what you’re using on a daily basis, and that can affect the taste. And those little plastic covers you have to put over the drip tips can have a major affect on what you’re tasting in the store, at least they do for me. The PG/VG ratio and how long a juice has steeped in the store will also affect the taste of what you’re sampling.

To provide as full a picture as possible for you, we vape at least two or three tanks of every ejuice we review over the course of two or three days, and we vape that juice exclusively from the first tank until the review is written and the video version is shot. Early on I set up some other criteria for our ejuice reviews. Each juice is reviewed based on how it tastes and how it tastes compared to how the manufacturer says it’s supposed to taste, what we refer to as taste authenticity. So an ejuice could score high on taste but low on taste authenticity. We also consider the throat hit, aroma and vapor production/consistency of each juice.

When I was still in the development stage of Seven Report I did quite a bit of research to see what other types of review sites were available. There are quite a few of them, and many are excellent. I did notice they tended to be either video reviews or written reviews (and I was actually a little surprised at how many review sites are written) but I didn’t find any that published both a written and video version of their reviews. There may be some out there that do, but I haven’t stumbled across any of them yet. So I decided that Seven Report would provide both.

conundrum 02There were two reasons for that decision. The first was to set us apart a little. But the main reason was to make it easier for the reader/viewer (read that “you”). I know that there are times when I’d rather simply read a review, and then there are other times that watching a video review is easier and more enjoyable. And then there are those times that I’ve watched a video review and wanted to go back later and confirm some information I couldn’t quite remember but really didn’t feel like sitting through a ten-plus minute video just to find out. So Seven Report provides both options, and the video versions of all reviews (and most all of the content on the website) is also available on our You Tube channel.

Hopefully after you’ve watched/read a few reviews on Seven Report and then tried some of those ejuices you’ll get a feel for how your tastes line up with ours. And that will make our reviews more valuable to you, “Seven Report says X-Juice was a little on the sweet side, but I like sweet juices more than they do, so X-Juice may be just right for me.”

I’d also suggest that you read/watch other sites’ reviews of some of the juices we’ve covered on Seven Report to get an even fuller idea of what to expect from an ejuice. I know that several other sites have posted reviews of ejuice from Skull & Raven and Stella Blues Vapors that have been reviewed on Seven Report.

The reason I started Seven Report was to help others who are as excited about vaping as I am, who had been smoking tobacco for years and tired of it, but just couldn’t kick it, until they discovered vaping. To provide some information and insight. And, hopefully, to encourage those who have yet to try vaping to give it a chance. I’d love to know if Seven Report is useful to you. Please leave any comments you may have. And if you’d like to share your own vaping story, I’d love to let others know about it, so send it on.

Finally, and this is for other reviewers, am I the only one who thinks about this stuff as I’m reviewing ejuice? I’d love to hear from you too.



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