How to Review E-Liquids: 14 Expert Tips
Are you thinking of becoming an e-liquid reviewer, or do you already review e-juices?
Strangely enough, while hundreds if not thousands of people are reviewing e-liquids on YouTube, Reddit, forums, blogs magazines and elsewhere, I’ve struggled to find one post giving advice on how to do it.
So I asked 10 e-liquid reviewers to provide tips for new reviewers. I’ve also added a couple of pointers which I think are important.
If you’re already a skilled reviewer, I’d love to hear what your own top tips are, so do let me know in the comments. What’s more, if you’d be interested in doing some e-liquid reviews, do let us know by filling in this form – we might be able to match you with some great e-liquids!
1. Never base your final review on your initial thoughts
Always use a clean atty with a new wick and new coil to get the most out of your flavour. Never base your final review on your initial thoughts. Vape it as much and as often as possible in a few different devices so you can get the full impact of what you are tasting and to see if the PG/VG ratio is good or not so good for various set ups.
2. Remember e-liquid has a fluid flavour character
Julia Hartley-Banres from Spinfuel Magazine
Every e-liquid we’ve reviewed had a fluid flavor character. By that I mean the flavor profile changes according to the time of day, device to device, atomizer ohms, and/or wattage applied. In order to do a fair review you need to vape every flavor at various times of the day and in at least 3 different e-liquid delivery systems (tanks, clearomizers, even RDA’s).
It’s a lot of work to do a fair job, but an eliquid shouldn’t score low or high, just because the reviewer did or didn’t like it ‘at that specific moment’. If a particular eliquid makes a great after dinner vape, or a poor early morning vape, our readers deserve to know that.
We also use a team so that after awhile our readers learn whose ’palate’ is closest to their own. Doing a fair review is serious business, not many people have that level of commitment for the job.
3. Forget about pretentious flavour descriptions
Lee Johnson: E-Cigarette Reviewed
Forget about the pretentious flavour descriptions!
If you’ve forgotten what a juice is supposed to taste like by the time it comes around to reviewing it, that’s a good thing: have a “blind” taste and try to pick out the flavours on your own, and then read what it’s supposed to be. This will help you put a name to any unidentified flavours that are actually present (and might even enhance your appreciation of the juice overall), but your previous blind taste will protect you against the juice-reviewing “placebo effect” from the flowery descriptions.
Below: Lee Johnson reviews our delicious Voop Juice:
4. The nose is critical
Scott Wichall: Blade Vapes
When I review a liquid, the first thing I do is check the bottle carefully and make sure that all of the labeling and packaging is CLP compliant (primarily for EU sourced ones).
For me, the actual graphic design of the label isn’t that important as long as the relevant info is on there, nic level, prod date or batch number, VG/PG is possible and company address.
I normally start out with a Mini Protank 3 with a 1.5 ohm DIY coil as this gives a good indication of how the juice will be for a new vaper.
I will then try it in a Kayfun or Taifun or Lemo and if I want to test stability at power with a higher VG juice it will go into a dripper or Delta 2.
I take note of the mouthfeel, what flavour notes are present on the inhale, and what is present on the exhale, taking care to exhale through the nose as well as the mouth is critical! I will also take note of any aftertaste and comment about this.
5. Use an RDA
Gareth Witty: Vape Dog
I have 3 letters for this, RDA or Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser. If you want to be able to test the flavour this is a must have. Yes, it will mean learning to make coils and wicking with cotton however the coil or coils you make will last a long time and the cotton can be quickly changed if you testing several flavours.
All you need to do is remove the cotton, a quick wash out with warm water, a quick dry then dry burn the coils and pop in some fresh cotton and you are ready for the next e-liquid.
6. Vape the juice for at least a week
Morten: Vaping Giraffe
I tend to use a quite a bit of time to do each review, because in my experience a lot of juices nowadays tend to be quite complex so you need to vape it for a while to get to know it and notice all the flavour notes.
Don’t get me wrong, some times I instantly fall in love with juices or gear and do the review quite quickly but my rule of thumb is to vape at least 10ml of a juice I’m reviewing or use the equipment for at least a week. I guess my top advice would be:
- Give everything you’re reviewing a bit of time and try to use it the way you would normally do, not just in front of your computer. Try juices with some coffee, a glass of wine, a beer and after dinner. Bring vaping gear out and about.
- Keep in mind that people have different tastes and use patterns. If this is not something you like, who do you think would like it and why?
- Be honest!
7. Set the parameters first
Like essay evaluation, you have two ways of grading – descriptive and numerical. Even if you aren’t going to give any numerical evaluation to your readers, it’s good to set the parameters beforehand.
Like, say, throat hit, smell, flavor quality, flavor match etc. It helps to assign a numerical assessment range, like 1-5 or 1-10, to each of these. This way you’ll know what to pay attention to and, if you are one of those types fearing a blank sheet of paper, you’ll have at least a couple of sentences ready to start with.
Also, make sure to try the liquid on different sets and clearos (RDA vs sub-ohm vs standard clearomizers) IF they are intended for more than one type of vaping.
8. Rinse with plain water!
Sir Risc from Reddit ECR EU
E-Liquid reviewing is usually different for everyone, considering everyone has their own palate and equipment.
Generally I’d advise aspiring reviewers to test the liquids they’re reviewing in different setups. Try a couple of RDAs, a couple of RTAs and don’t ignore the equipment that newer vapers are using. Tanks like the Nautilus are still being used very frequently and will definitely give a different taste in comparison with more advanced gear.
Don’t lock the power you’re testing at, several (if not most) flavors will change when you vape them at higher wattages.
If the e-liquid is mixed to order, try some when you receive it but let some age for a while so you can taste the difference.
Clean your gear in between flavors, cross contamination is a definite problem that will throw your tastebuds off when tasting multiple liquids. Last but not least, if you notice your tastebuds getting a bit tired during a tasting session, brush your teeth and rinse with plain water. Sniffing some fresh coffee ground is a great way to reset the olfactory!
9. Clean the pallette!
Gemma Tea and a Vape
Always make sure you’ve got a fresh wick or a clean atty to avoid cross contamination. Make sure you brush your teeth before hand, and have some water or coffee to hand to cleanse your pallet whilst your tasting. It’s a good idea to have something to hand to take notes so you can write down the flavour notes you taste.
10. To dual or not to dual?
Clear your palette. Make sure you haven’t been eating or drinking any foods that may affect your tastebuds’ judgements.
Akin to wine testers. Wash your mouth out with water. I do this at the start of testing. I then vape the flavour. Water wash. A few vapes. Another water wash, then even more vapes. When you do this, you get a better idea of the strength of the flavour and the depth of flavour.
Sometimes it’s good to swap the water for milk.
Clean, clean, clean.
If you can’t afford to buy new cartos / attys for each test, make sure you clean your set-up out thoroughly beforehand, and replace the heating head / coil & wick combos every time. While you’re at that, clean your atty contacts and your mod contacts too. It all impacts.
Check the levels…
PG/VG ratios have a big impact on flavour levels, and of course, vapor levels. If you have a 50/50 juice, and a 70/30 juice with the same flavour quantity, you’ll get a different flavour. Only slightly in most cases, but its enough to make you think. It’s also enough to remind you to test high VG liquids in a dripper, or expect your CE4/5 to taste like a burnt match. lol!
To dual or not to dual?
If you’ve the opportunity, just go for a single coil in a dripper. When you’re testing lots of liquids, it’ll save time, plus gives a purer, more accurate flavour.
(If you’re dual coiling, and the one coil doesn’t wick as fast, you could get burnt/ overheated juice, affecting the flavour.)
Via The Grumpy Vaper
1. Go into each review hoping you’ll try the best e-liquid you’ve ever had. If you go into a tasting session of multiple juices with a cynical mind, then you do yourself or the company who have sent you the product no justice at all.
2. Never give first impressions – your idea and perception of a 10ml bottle may change during the time you spend with it.
3. Try the e-liquid across different atomisers and at different wattages. The flavour will alter from tanks to drippers.
Ashtray Blog Tips
And here’s a few more tips from our mixologist!
11. Blind taste!
My first tip is to blind taste. Obviously, this is more difficult if you are tasting alone, but one little experiment we carried out when researching our Vaper’s Tongue article shows the importance of this.
We first told one of our staff that we had a really great e-liquid for him to try. Sure enough, he gave it good marks. (We have a marking system which gives marks out of 10 for different aspects of an e-liquid.)
Later on we came to him and told him we had another e-liquid for him to try, but that we were a bit disappointed with it ourselves. The marks he gave were lower.
Little did he know that it was the same e-liquid!
12. Using coffee beans to reset the palette
If you have a container of ground coffee beans, you should smell the container until you cannot detect the coffee scent anymore. This resets your palate and you should have a better sense of smell and taste for whatever you try following that.
13. Taste In a neutral environment
It’s also worth noting that humidity, pressure and even noise can affect your sense of taste and smell. Your sensitivity to salt and sweet decrease while on a plane due to the pressurised cabin, the lack of humidity in the air and most surprisingly the humming noise which comes from the engines. So it’s important to be in the most neutral environment possible while tasting, and to have as little distractions as possible.
14. Always be honest
If you’re an affiliate, it’s tempting to promote e-liquids that have high commissions, or to maintain good relationships with e-liquid producers.
It’s also a quick way to lose trust with your readers!
So always be honest. Readers will always appreciate it, and good vendors will understand – and even use your feedback to improve!
What are YOUR top tips for reviewing e-liquids?
Let me know in the comments!