Highbrow Vapor Review

Highbrow Vapor Review
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Highbrow Vapor Review

Lead Writer: Jason Little, with Chelsey Laney

About the Graphic: “Never assume that anyone will have the same sense of humor that you do!” – John Manzione 10/7/12 –

As Jon Locke was hard at work on a graphic to illustrate this review he told all of us that there wasn’t a “tag line” for Highbrow Vapor. Our ever-brilliant Julia, in a nano-second, yelled out “The Hoity-Toity eJuice Company”. After we all regained our composure, (we laughed for 10 minutes straight) we decided to go ahead with it, because, hell, it’s brilliant. We tease of course, and mean no disrespect. Hopefully Highbrow Vapor will see this as an obvious attempt at humor. Then again, when you have to explain the joke it kinda loses the funny. Oh well – Jason Little 10/8/12.

Prologue

This review covers seven (7) flavors from Highbrow Vapor, supplied in 10ML bottles. Not enough to allow the usual number of 5 team members, but certainly enough for two. Chelsey and I were chosen to do this review because of our preferences to the type of flavors that were sent from Highbrow.

The flavors we reviewed were:

Crème Brule

Orange de Sangre

Blueberry

Cappuccino Diablo

Highbrowbacco-RY4

Strawberry Lemonade

Cheesecake Torte

(All eLiquids in this review are 80/20 PG/VG & 12mg nicotine, Highbrow’s standard blend.)

Points of Interest

There are a couple of unique features of Highbrow Vapor that are (somewhat) different than we’ve seen from other eLiquid brands. For instance, Highbrow offers only two (2) sizes, 10ML and 30ML.

10ML eLiquids are $7.50, but for $15 you can jump to 30ML, making the 30ML the much preferred size to order once you know what you like. (If you enter HIGHBROW” in the coupon code area you will receive 10% off your order, bringing that expensive 10ML price down a bit. The 30ML price is already a great price structure)

highbrow-featureslideHighbrow Vapor also creates its own extracts for many of the flavors they create. This means that you won’t find any artificial flavorings in their eJuice.  Using natural flavorings can prevent the sometimes seen ‘base’ flavor or ‘signature’ flavor we’ve found in some brands. The absence of a base ‘taste’ allows the true flavoring to shine through. Most top-shelf eLiquid companies have gone to natural flavors but few, if any, do what Highbrow has done, creating their own extracts.

Each eLiquid we reviewed were:

  •   Made with 100% natural flavors, 0% artificial flavors.
  •   99.9% pharmaceutical grade nicotine.
  •   100% USP Kosher food grade PG/VG.         
  •   Contain No dilution unless requested.   
  •   Come with childproof caps and warning label.
  • And were manufactured in the USA with products made in the USA.         

The “standard” mix for each flavor is 80% PG and 20% VG. Highbrow Vapor suggests an 80/20 PG/VG mix but they encourage “experimentation”. You can choose the blend you want, and the amount of flavoring you desire. You begin with choosing between three (3) choices for the PG/VG mix; all PG, all VG, or the 80/20. On the order page is a text box for customization, 60/40, 70/30, etc., as well as requesting an extra shot or two of flavoring. Nicotine levels are; 0, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36mg. (we, Spinfuel, strongly advise staying away from 36mg nicotine levels unless you have permission from your doctor, or if you’re trying to kick a 3-pack a day analog habit. Seriously, 36mg is a lot of nicotine.)

Initial Impressions of Highbrow Vapor – The Company

The very name “Highbrow” suggests a snotty, snobby nature of the company (I mean, come on, right?), so when the eLiquids arrived I expected to see some really fancy packaging, despite the 10ML size. Instead, the 10ML bottles were the everyday 10ML plastic bottles you see everywhere in the ejuice business, and the labels were simple wraparound paper printed on an inkjet printer. The logo, a man in a top hat, was fuzzy and pixelated. I admit I was a bit surprised. Then Julia stepped in and told me that these were ‘sampler’ bottles.

I have not seen a 30ML bottle so I cannot say that they upped their game in packaging for the larger size or simply upped the size of the plastic bottle. Now, this isn’t a criticism, at this point in the review prep I was trying to figure out why they decided to call the company “Highbrow”.  Highbrow connotes an upper class society; people who buy Highbrow eLiquids do not stay in steerage when cruising on the ocean in the Titanic.

The Highbrow website (highbrowvapor.com) is packed full of information about the products and the company and the design is well thought out and accessible. Feel free to explore all you want, but don’t miss the “About Us” page. This is where you’ll find out how this family-owned and operated business is run more like a winery than a mom & pop eLiquid company. This page alone will make you want to buy your eLiquids from Highbrow, especially the information on where their eLiquids are made and stored. It does make you wonder if they might have a small line of wine as a side business. And now I am beginning to understand the “Highbrow” name.

While I was not impressed with the packaging I think it’s fair to say that when buying eLiquids the important part is the juice itself anyway. Nice packaging is a great thing, but even the coolest, most expensive packaging cannot hide bad juice. On the other hand, even the best ejuice can lose something if it’s packaged in, say; old prescription bottles and identified with a magic marker. Okay, enough about packaging!

Questions

Does natural flavoring enhance the vaping experience? Does the standard 80/20-mix work best, and can this family-owned business create good juice? These are the important questions, and while most, if not all, of these questions can be answered in a review, the relatively small number of flavors and small amounts of each do place certain limits on what we can definitively say about Highbrow Vapor. Highbrow currently offers more than 45 flavors. We are reviewing about a 1/8 of their line, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. We can review the individual flavors, but we cannot say that you can expect the same quality, or lack thereof, from the majority of the line.

The Review

Chelsey and I spent a total of 80 hours vaping Highbrow Vapor. We used a variety of hardware, from Variable Voltage to mini-eCigs and cartomizers. We wanted to see how much, if any, the flavors would change when using a cartomizer filled with polyfill stuffing, (Halo G6 burn-resistance cartos); Clearomizers CE2’s and CE4+ (wicks), as well as 3ML tanks filled half way. We even vaped with Totally Wicked Triple Coil 510 Cartomizers on an Apollo VTube and a Lambo 4 from MyVaporStore. We think we covered most of the ways you might vape these eLiquids, if not, let us know in the comments below.

Characteristics of the eJuice

Naturally, an 80/20 mix is going to produce a thin eLiquid. I prefer thin juices for those times when I simply want to use the needle bottle to fill a cartomizer and be done with it. Especially Apollo eCigs cartomizers and Totally Wicked cartomizers. Both brands, in our opinion, are far superior to Boge and absorb the liquid much faster and saturate the material much faster. That means a lot when you are confronted by a heavy VG-based eLiquid.

A Word about Aroma

The Aromas of every flavor from we received from Highbrow were marvelous. Because of the natural flavorings each flavor has a bouquet of its own and none of them were chemical or artificial. Admit it, you know an ejuice that smells good is more appetizing than one that smells of glycerin. Most of the time it means a better vaping experience as well. Sadly, some eLiquid makers don’t think about this very important part of the whole experience.

Rating System

We employed the standard 1 through 5 star rating system we’ve used in every eLiquid review. 1 is the lowest score and it means the eLiquid is unvapable.  A rating of 5 means we love everything about it. Any number in-between 1 and 5 speak for themselves but are always accompanied by our thoughts on the flavor. You won’t have a hard time figuring out where we stand on each one.

Customer or “Home” Steeping

Highbrow Vapor will need a little Customer/Home Steeping to fully realize the eLiquids flavor. We don’t know why this is, but the eLiquids we received from Highbrow took longer to “home steep” than any other we’ve ever reviewed.

“Home steeping is when you open the bottle of juice and allow the juice to breathe. The way we do it here, for reviews, is that we open the bottle, fill our tanks, cartos, Clearomizers, etc., and store them overnight in a cool, dry place, usually the stockroom. “

Most eJuice blends require some time for all the ingredients to merge or ‘marry’ into one. Sometimes it can take a few hours and sometimes it can take much longer.

Cheating

Julia (Barnes) and I are notorious for “cheating” when it comes to trying out ejuice early when they come in for review. We will often take half a milliliter and insert it into a clearomizer and vape it straight away. On rare occasions this works out okay, but the majority of times we find out that the juice needs further steeping.

For instance, the Crème Brule flavor was the one I chose to vape immediately because I had high hopes for it. I’m glad I cheated because there was almost no flavor whatsoever when I took it straight from the bottle and inserted it into a CE2.

Experiencing this total lack of flavor caused me to grab a pack of CE2’s from the stockroom and “lift” half a milliliter from the remaining six, without telling Chelsey. After trying out each flavor I came to the conclusion that each of them needed to steep for 24 hours at least, rather than just overnight. So, without transferring them to their final resting place (cartos, clearos, tanks) I screwed the caps back on, shook them up vigorously and let them sit overnight. Then, the next morning I filled what I was going to use, Chelsey filled hers, and then we put them back in the stockroom again until that evening, allowing another 12 hours to pass. That did the trick.

The difference this additional home steeping made was almost miraculous. During my initial vaping with the “new” juices I was worried that this review was going to score very low. After the steeping each of the flavors came alive like I’d never seen before. They improved dramatically. My suggestion is that if you do order from them, and you should, it would be a good idea to allow extra home steeping to bring out the entire flavor these eLiquids have to offer.

Review Procedure

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About The Author

Team Spinfuel is a group of passionate vapers that bring you honest, in-depth reviews and commentary on products, services, and the legal and political ramifications on vaping and ecigarettes. Julia Hartely-Barnes, Tom McBride, Jason Little, Tony Brittan, Nick Bessette and Keira Hartley-Barnes make up the editorial team (video and written) , along with John Manzione, our Publisher, and talented contributors like Mark Benson. Email any of the writers at admin AT spinfuel.com, or just ask for their email address.

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9 Comments

  1. Lauren

    HighBrow is my favorite place to order from! i’ve tried multiple vendors, but none of them have been able to produce the complex flavors that highbrow consistenly has. i’ve tried a vast majority of their juices and my favorites are: Chai Tea (seriously, the best juice out there, i use it everyday)
    Pear (not something I would typically order, but so glad I did, the taste is so crisp & clean, EXACTLY like eating a pear)
    Chocolate (a delicious juice, will be trying the mint chocolate next)
    Blackberry Limoncello (great mix of flavors can taste both equally but not overpowering)
    I’m glad this article pointed out the fragrance of these juices. They all smell wonderful when they are vaped, which is an added bonus. Whenever I vape in public people ask me if they can try it (usually the chai tea) because it smells so good.
    If you do order from HB please let your juices steep! I keep reading bad reviews by customers who don’t know how to properly extract all the flavors. These juices are high quality but they MUST be steeped.

    Reply
  2. Denise

    I too use Highbrow and I love all the flavors I’ve tried. I read the reviews on each flavors page to get tips on things to try. It really does help and having all the choices are fantastic! I like that they use natural flavors. I don’t think there is a flavor that I haven’t tried adding a drop of another flavor to. So many flavors blend really well together it makes it fun to try out new things. I have to say I’m in love with the Caramel! I add it to my Vanilla, Cappuccino Diablo and Cream Bruele. Their Hazelnut is great just the way it is too. Some I double the flavor, add cream or a bit of sweet to them. I love that they like for people to give their own honest reviews good or bad and that people give tips on things to try. Yes steeping some flavors take a little longer but their worth the wait (I always order early to allow steeping time)!

    Reply
  3. Laura

    Highbrow Vapor is one of my absolute favorites. Each bottle is prepared when ordered so there is a bit more need for steeping — but I’ve never gotten a bad juice yet like I have from some other highly rated companies. The cheesecake torte us absolutely one of my favorites especially after a long stressful day! Their amaretto is excellent — mix with the cheesecake and you have your sweetness. I agree their Ry4 is great — add a couple of drops of their apricot and wow! The lemoncello and orange de Sangra are great clean tart vapes that are very refreshing on hot Oklahoma days — not a relax/bedtime vape though. Their apricot and peach thymbra are like taking a bite of perfectly ripened fruit. I got started with them on the heavenly macaroon — it is to die for but more of a winter cape. After your review I am ordering the blueberry for sure. They do customize each order for extra flavor, sweetness, etc. One great thing is I vape 24mg and all VG. The flavors aren’t altered by this as I have found with other companies. FYI 30ml bottles bigger but same label. Both sizes come wrapped in brown, cute paper wrapping with a raffea bow!

    Reply
  4. James

    I placed an order withthem not too long ago; unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy any of their juices. The aromas just didn’t so anything for me (this was after allowing them to steep for at least 3 weeks), and the flavors I found to be bland. Too bad; I read a lot of positive things about Highbrow, and was looking to add them to my list of favorite vendors to order from.

    Reply
  5. Tony

    Wow. I really disagree with the reviewers this time. Highbrow is one of the best vendors I’ve tried and I’ve tried many. Just placed another order!

    I guess everyone’s tastes are different, but I love their cheesecake and strawberry lemonade. But I will try some of the other flavors here now so this was helpful.

    Thanks for the review and also giving attention to Highbrow Vapor. Noticed there is no discount this time…love when there is one with the review.

    Reply
  6. Diana Devlin

    Highbrow was one of the very first vendors I ever tried. It was their RY4 flavor and it was really delicious. There flavors are very multi-layered but to me, all have a similar taste to them. They are all very robust, full-flavored and almost too sweet for my liking. But on the days I’m looking for a vaper that is very rich, their eliquids are what I reach for.

    Reply
  7. Ray

    I’m new to all of this, but RY4 sounds like a flavor I’d definitely enjoy. If you had to choose just one, which would you prefer? Highbrow’s RY4? Or MOV’s?

    And any reason why? :)

    Reply
  8. Perry

    Jason,

    I am a big coffee fan and would appreciate your opinion on those “…2 or 3 other eLiquids that I think do an excellent job at coffee flavors…”

    Would you mind sharing who makes those coffee e-juices that you described? names of the juices and company’s who make them?

    Thanks

    Reply

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