It's often said that 'taste is subjective' and this never rings more true than when we are discussing e-liquid flavours. Within groups of vapers this remark is commonly used as a caveat when talking about flavours. “Does this e-liquid taste nice?” … "Yes, it does to me, but of course taste is subjective!"
The idea for this blog came about after talking to a frustrated friend who, after trying many different e-liquids and flavours, came to the conclusion that “none of them tasted authentic” and for that reason he was disappointed. I tried to understand what it was he was looking for and where I might be able to help him.
The difficulties of 'authentic' flavours
Some flavours are much easier to create than others, sweets (or candy if you prefer) are often flavoured with similar artificial flavours and many of them will contain the same flavour compounds as e-liquids do.
So, unsurprisingly maybe, they can taste very similar. If you are looking for something that tastes like the classic Rhubarb and Custard or Pear drops boiled sweets for example, you'll find the e-liquid very close.
It's probably no coincidence that these two flavours are among the highest rated on website, with many customers commenting that they “taste just like the sweets.”
Trying to make an e-liquid that tastes like a bowl of actual rhubarb and custard is a far more difficult challenge for e-liquid manufacturers. It's not only more difficult to reproduce a natural tasting flavour but often it's not actually what people are looking for.
Fruit flavoured e-liquids
Some fruits especially have, in reality, quite a subtle taste but more than often what we are looking for is a vape that is bursting with flavour. For many people it's number one on their priorities list, a good strong flavour.
Therefore a realistic fruit flavour isn't always going to work for everyone. This seems especially true for apple flavours, I ate an apple earlier and it really didn't have a strong flavour at all. It was crunchy, fresh, not a lot of sweetness and quite mild in taste. I would say a flavour like Orchard Apple is quite an authentic flavour in this regard, true to its name, but maybe it wouldn't satisfy those looking for something more concentrated or candy-like.
This is all worth considering when trying different flavours. Is the e-liquid trying to be authentic and is that what you want?
Tobacco flavoured e-liquids
As we discussed in a previous blog, authentic cigarette flavours are extremely hard to reproduce in an e-cigarette because to taste authentic we would really be trying to emulate is the taste of tobacco smoke, not the tobacco itself.
There are e-liquids made from 'naturally extracted tobacco' or N.E.T's as they are commonly known, but while the flavours extracted from the tobacco leaves are natural and 'authentic', to me they don't actually do any better in reproducing the flavour you'd experience when smoking tobacco.
It's difficult to please everyone, when everyone tastes something different.
We all taste e-liquid flavours differently
Taste really is a curious thing, not everyone enjoys the same flavours and we all taste flavours differently. As most of us know already, how we taste things and what flavours we enjoy can change throughout our lives too. When it comes to vaping there's a whole heap of other variables in the mix to consider too, different tanks, different wattage, different coils. With all that in mind creating flavourings that taste exactly like a food or drink to everyone who tries them is not easy.
If you want to test this try giving one of your vaping friends some e-liquids in an unmarked bottles and get them to vape them for a while and tell you what they think they are. I've done this and been really surprised and the answers they gave me. It seems our taste buds are fairly good at playing tricks on us sometimes!
After a good chat with my friend, the conclusion was that he was really looking for milder tasting e-liquids. He found the strong sweet flavours that are common (and desired by a lot of vapers) were just too much for his palate and personal taste. After showing him how to dilute his flavours with unflavoured e-liquid he's been much happier and e-liquid flavours he thought he didn't like were suddenly far more appealing to him.
My thoughts to conclude
Depending on what kind of e-liquid flavours you enjoy, getting an 'authentic' taste from your vaporiser might be difficult. There's some great tasting e-liquids around but do bare in mind that many of them will be using many of the same artificial flavourings that are found in sweets etc.
It's no coincidence that there are more 'blue raspberry slush' or 'raspberry candy' e-liquids around than truly 'authentic raspberry' flavours and there isn't really much we can do to get around that. We have to accept that some natural tasting flavours are much harder to recreate in vaping than others.
There are some e-liquid manufacturers that will give very elaborate descriptions of the flavours they offer, a bit of this with hints of this and background notes of that. I learned quite quickly that while those flavours might be present, many people will either not be able to taste them or will taste something different. One of the earliest experiences I had when I started vaping was buying a very popular flavour and I could taste nothing other than mushrooms... which is something I never want to taste in a vape again!
Clearly though, not everyone has the same taste experience as I did. It's unfortunate because it does make recommending flavours to others difficult. I think a lot of us have handed a mate a vape and said 'taste this, it's amazing' only to see their face screw up and them recoil in horror after tasting it!
The important thing is that we all find flavours that we like and can happily vape all day instead of smoking. We are quite lucky with the amount of choice we have already and flavour companies are continually working on new flavourings and trying to improve their products, so if you've not found it yet, the perfect cherry or coffee flavour for you might be just around the corner.