Aces Vapor Goes Before The Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team
Lead Writer – Tom McBride
A common theme that runs through just about every eLiquid company we’ve had the pleasure to review over the past 2-plus years is that the owners, or founders, of the brand had tried many different eLiquid brands and for one reason or another just couldn’t find the right flavors to stay true to any brand. So the reason a new company pops up on the scene is not so much a lifelong desire to create an eLiquid company (there are no 7 year olds mixing ejuice out there, I hope not), as it is to take matters into their own hands and create eLiquids for themselves.
For Aces Vapor’s Joshua Gearheart (Interview here) much of the reasons above hold true, but there is something else worth mentioning; for Joshua it wasn’t about not being able to find eLiquids he liked, but rather the eLiquids he did like for just too expensive.
So he began mixing juice for himself, and once he got proficient enough at some of the simple flavors he began to get more creative. Soon he was giving away juice to friends and other vapers to see how they liked the juices. After a while, and many small tweaks here and there Joshua was ready to launch a new business.
Looking over the eLiquid landscape of the past couple of years its important to keep in mind that our industry, both hardware and eLiquid, is still in its infancy. In the US it’s about 7 years old, meaning no one has a degree in eLiquid mixing, there is no Bachelor of eLiquids… yet. Every successful, and not so successful, eJuice company was founded on trial and error, ambition, and the wonderfully American value of “being your own boss”. It is the reason why the eLiquids we vape today are a hundred times better than just two years ago.
Aces Vapor and the Spades Line
Aces Vapor consists of two lines of eLiquids, a standard, or regular lineup of eJuice where a 60ML bottle will cost you just $15, and a premium lineup of 5 flavors that are supposed to be more complex, more nuanced in many layers of flavors, and where a 60ML bottle will cost you $23. The review we present today consists of the 5 flavors in the Spades lineup. A sequel review later this summer is planned for several from the standard lineup.
Standard and Premium – What’s the difference?
Aces Vapor is not the first eLiquid brand to offer two or more ‘tiers’ of eJuice. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there to wonder what makes a standard eLiquid ‘standard’ and a premium eLiquid ‘premium’. Is the quality of ingredients? Do certain eLiquid companies use ‘the cheap stuff’ to knockout flavors to build up a certain number of flavors for their menu? Do they use ‘the good stuff’ for premium flavors? If not, if all the eLiquids from Brand X uses the same ingredients then the cost to manufacture remains the same. With regards to Aces Vapor there is a whopping $8 difference in the retail price between 60ML of standard juice and 60ML of the premium juice.
When Julia posed this question to Joshua he said that the Spades represents the peak of their mixology. That each recipe is tested and refined for months to ensure that the flavors work in harmony to create a unique vaping experience. And that this is accomplished by using a variety of flavors from a variety of manufacturers. While all that sounds absolutely wonderful, does it hold up during the actual ‘vaping’ of these eLiquids? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Which we’ll see in the review below. Premium or not, Aces Vapor is a very affordable line of eLiquids.
The Five Spades
Our review today consists of the following flavors:
- Aces and Eights – 21mg nicotine
- Lady Luck – 21mg nicotine
- Beginners Luck – 21 mg nicotine
- Maverick – 21mg nicotine
Underdog – 21mg nicotine
The Team – Hardware – Procedures – Scoring
With each review we publish there are thousands of readers who have never read a Spinfuel eLiquid Team Review, so each time we must go over what it is we do, what we use, and how we use it. If you’ve read previous eLiquid reviews by the team you can skip this part and get right to the review itself.
The Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team is made up of Julia Barnes, Tom McBride, Jason Little, and Keira Hartley-Barnes. Each of us have our own likes and dislikes for our personal vaping, both in our hardware choices and eLiquid choices. Writing reviews with 4 different vapers allow us to convey 4 points of view. After a while you’ll learn whose opinion is more like your own, and before long if, say, Julia’s tastes are a close match to yours then what she says about a particular brand or ‘flavor within the brand’ will probably hold more sway over your choices than mine. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t.
Something we can all agree on is that 4 people reviewing the same eLiquids gives you a lot more information then watching a single individual vape something for 2 minutes in a video.
We spend 72-hours with an eLiquid brand during a review. We only vape their brand of eLiquid during the entire time. We don’t divide that 72 hours into blocks of time to spend with any particular flavor however, but we do ‘vape’ each flavor during many different times of the day. For example; each member of the team will vape, say, Aces & Eights, in the early morning, mid-day, late afternoon, after dinner, evening, and late evening. We do so because many eLiquids taste different at different times of the day. Certain flavors are great early morning vapes while at the same time make horrible after dinner vapes. You cannot make up your mind about an eLiquid after just a few minutes.
A story I like to tell people (don’t worry, I’ll give you the short version) that exemplifies this method of reviewing an eLiquid, goes like this; Our publisher, John Manzione, has a handful of eLiquids that he vapes consistently, and has done so for more than 2 years. Unlike the team, he isn’t trying new flavors all the time so he sticks to what he likes, which is currently somewhere around 10-12 flavors.
On one occasion he was asked by me to vape an eLiquid from FanceeJuice, a flavor called MeeseTracks (you might have heard him talk about it), and the first time he tried it he hated it. He told me it was the worst thing he’d every vaped. This was right after lunch, some 18 months ago I think. He thought I was crazy because I loved it. I told him to try again, later that night. To make a long story short, he did, he loved hit, and he still vapes it to this very day. The time, the situation, even the mood of the vaper, is key to revealing the true nature of an eLiquid flavor. It cannot, should not, be decided in a single vape session.
Hardware can also make a difference in the flavor, vapor, and overall enjoyment of an eLiquid. Thick high-VG eLiquids are difficult to vape in a cartomizer, but are especially good with long-wick clearomizers. Variable voltage and variable wattage are now vital to any eLiquid review, although on occasion we will all vape with a straight up 3.7v battery, but only as a part of a larger arsenal of hardware.
How an eLiquid stands up to low and high voltage is important. Does the juice have flexibility? Does a higher voltage reveal more layers to an eLiquid? What’s the best way to make an eLiquid reveal its true self? These are just some of the questions we ask when we spend 3 days with a certain brand of juice. This is why a Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team review is so widely sought after.
For this review, like most others, the following hardware was used; Provari, iTaste 134 mini, eVic Supreme, ZMAX, Sigelei 20W, Spinner II’s by Vision, and the iTaste MVP. Clearomizers and tanks include the X.Jet Spider, Aspire Nautilus, Aspire BDC Vivi Nova’s, iClear X.I, and iClear 30B, 30S, and 30.
If you search through our database you’ll find more than 200 reviews to date. We have never, not ever once, written an untrue word about an eLiquid. We do not charge an eLiquid brand for a review, they do not give us anything other than the juice we review, and then only enough to last the 3 days.
It doesn’t matter to the team if an eLiquid brand is an advertiser or not, the truth will be told either way.
If a reader of our review spends $20 for an eLiquid based on our words then there is simply no room for bias. None of us would want to waste $20 on an eLiquid we didn’t like, and we won’t want you to either. If you are a new reader and this is your first Spinfuel review, I urge you to read other reviews here so that you’ll know, first hand, that if someone tells you otherwise you’ll know the truth. A ‘Spinfuel eLiquid Team Review’ starts and ends with the truth.
Aces Vapor Methodology
Aces Vapor shipped out 2x 30ML bottles per eLiquid, which gave us plenty of eLiquid for vaping. Before the 72-hour clock began ticking away we divided up the eLiquid and went our separate ways. On occasion some eLiquids are FedEx’d to a team members current residence.
At the end of the 72-hours a meeting is called and all members of the team must be present. Sometimes, because we all have residences in both New England and Florida, one or more will use an iPad’s FaceTime feature to attend the discussion. There has even been one or two of these discussions where everyone was meeting through video.
In any case, we call the meeting to order and for the next 2 to 3 hours we talk about the company, the packaging, the labels, the ingredients, the individual flavors, the vape experience with each flavor, and other matters of interest. After the meeting the head writer receives an email from each member of the team. That email contains the member’s findings for each flavor. It also contains a score of 1-5 Stars for each eLiquid. That score break down like this:
1-Star – Unvapeable, pure and simple
2-Stars – Below average, would vape it if there was no other choice.
3-Stars – Adequate. Average. Not special, not bad, just average for 2014 eLiquids.
4-Stars – Above average. Pretty good stuff. Worth the money and worth the vape time. Would buy it at the right price.
5-Stars – Excellent in every respect. Would pay a high price for it. I want more.
Scores that include quarter, half, and three-quarter stars should be interpreted as being more than the whole number, but not enough to go to the next whole number.
No one except the lead writer knows the scores of the other members, and if all members award an eLiquid ‘5 stars’ the lead writer grants that eLiquid a Spinfuel Choice Award. The other members never know the number of Choice Awards until the review is published.
The Review Begins Now
The ‘Spades’ line of eLiquids from Aces Vapor is offered in the following sizes and prices.
15ML – $7.50
30ML – $13.00
60ML – $23.00
Nicotine strengths – 3,6,9,12,15,18,21,24mg and of course, zero-nicotine.
Bottles/Labels – glass bottles, with glass dropper, child safety caps. Labels contain a lot of information, including batch numbers, nicotine strength, ingredients, safety warnings, size, and the date the eLiquid was mixed and bottled. Aces Vapor also included the phone number for Poison Control. Everything you could possibly want on an eLiquid label is here. Aces Vapor earns massive Kudos for their bottling and labels.
PG/VG – Mostly 50/50 blends, with allowances for certain tweaks when needed. We do not know the exact ratios used.
I chose the information below from the emails sent by the team members and from snippets of conversation during the discussions. Only the most important information was pulled and used in the review.
Aces & Eights – “A creamy blend of 7 different fruits that all mesh together to make an intriguing taste all it’s own.”
TOM: I sense no ‘creamy’ flavor component with Aces & Eights at all. Yes, there is a good blend of various fruits so you know you’re vaping a fruity mix, but it is also quite sweet. While I enjoyed it, and could see this an all-day-vape because the flavor isn’t overpowering, I also see nothing very special about it. It’s an average eLiquid. 3.25 Stars
JASON: I sense an almost ‘dry sweetness’ to Aces & Eights. There was another brand we reviewed about a year ago that had a similar sweetness. I can only describe that dry sweetness as a powered sugar hit. It is definitely a fruity vape but not a single flavor that I could pin down. If you like fruity flavors I think you would like this one.
Like the other 4 flavors there is a lot of vapor production with Aces & Eights, and a decent throat hit as well, no doubt the 21mg nicotine causing some of the throat hit. Not the best, certainly not the worst. I’d say 4 Stars.
KEIRA: Aces & Eights is an example of a perfect all day vape. The mix of various fruits, the abundance of sweetness, and the vapor output are terrific and would easily last all day long. For me, Underdog fits the profile as a workhorse eLiquid, fill a 6ML tank and enjoy the day. 4.5 Stars
JULIA: I’m not too crazy about fruit flavors that are so muddled that identifying them are impossible. But, sometimes such a mix can work, as it does here. I wouldn’t call Aces & Eights a wonderful, complex layering of flavoring, but it is a good all-day-vape for those times when vaping is more important than the vape ‘experience’. Aces & Eights is a general flavor blend, one that you can vape without thinking about, and those make the best all-day-vapes. 4 Stars
TOM: The description is accurate, a smooth strawberry and dragon fruit, easily identifiable as such, tied together with the ‘essence’ of cream. And that ‘essence’ is important to note. When I see the word creamy I expect to taste a deep, rich cream flavor, but that is not what you get here. The cream flavor is hinted at, not thrown at you. The strawberry flavor is the dominant flavor, and it is a good strawberry, authentic, smooth, pleasing to the palette. But, is it “special”? Not so much, no. 4 Stars
JASON: I enjoyed Beginner’s Luck easily, and it could be a fine all-day-vape. My least favorite part of the flavor mix is the dragon fruit, its too edgy for strawberry. The cream factor is very small and had they left it out of the description I would not have noticed it. In my mind this is a pleasant strawberry blend with good vapor production. 4 Stars
KEIRA: I really like the strawberry flavor used in Beginner’s Luck. The dragon fruit gives it the character of a mid-day vape. I don’t know about an all-day-vape for this one, mainly because I would want something richer in the morning or late night. My favorite time for Beginner’s Luck was an after lunch to dinnertime vape. Loved the vapor production for this one, and despite 21mg of nicotine the throat hit was kind of light. 4.25 Stars
JULIA: Well, the strawberry flavor in Beginner’s Luck was the best feature. I didn’t care for the dragon fruit but that’s not an Aces Vapor issue, that’s my own dislike of dragon fruit in general. Vapor production was good but not the best of the bunch, and whatever ‘creaminess’ that was supposed to tie these two flavors together was nonexistent. At most, Beginner’s Luck is a decent strawberry eLiquid. 3.5 Stars
Underdog – “This is a fruity blend based on the “Scrappy Snack” alcoholic cocktail. With tones of banana, pineapple, and coconut it instantly brings to mind sand, salt, and a beach bar. It tastes like something that should be served with a little umbrella.”
TOM: I’ve never tasted a drink called Scrappy Snack so I have no reference to go on. I do taste all the flavors outlined in the description though. It’s kind of like a Pina Colada with a touch of banana. A good all-day-vape because it is not a strong flavored vape. Good vapor production, a medium throat hit, and a blend that has the potential to grow on you. 4 Stars
JASON: Nothing about Underdog is overpowering. All the flavor ingredients are here, and they come together in a good blending, creating a certain flavor while maintaining enough of their identity to know what they are. You could vape Underdog all day long and the flavor will hold up, but only because of the lack of personality. The only thing special about Underdog is the ability to maintain its flavor for hours. 4 Stars
KEIRA: I taste these flavors in this order; banana, pineapple, and coconut. They blend as well as a Pina Colada, but the added twist of banana flavor gives it a tropical feeling all its own. I enjoyed it, but I don’t see myself trading an occupied slot in my rotation for it. Good, but not great. 4 Stars
JULIA: For a premium line of flavors I wanted to the flavors to knock me down, take my name, and then send me off the bed without my supper. I wanted to be knocked over the head, to take a drag and say “Whoa”. None of the 5 flavors do that. This is another all-day-vape. Maybe that was the intention, and why shouldn’t it be?
There are specialty flavors I must have at least once a week, but when working in the studio I want something that maintains a low profile but serves its purpose. That’s what Underdog does, it serves its purpose of being a tropical blend that you can fill up a large tank with and go about your business. Satisfying without being overwhelming. 4 Stars
TOM: Maverick is the strongest flavor of the five. Deep and rich custard blend with vanilla and caramel notes delivered in a smooth and satisfying vape. This is the one I enjoyed the most, and I really enjoyed it. Lots of vapor, a medium throat hit, Maverick is the one I would choose every time (over the other 4). 4.75 Stars
JASON: This is what I was hoping to see with all of the Spades line. Strong flavors, rich creamy vanilla, caramel in a melt-in-your-mouth vape. Top it off with lots of clouds and you have a very satisfying eLiquid. Sadly, no throat hit to speak of, even at 21mg nicotine. Still, it’s the one I cared for the most. 4.5 Stars
KEIRA: Who doesn’t like a custard vape? Maverick is loaded to the hilt with vanilla, caramel and custard, with lots of vapor to pull down into your lungs. A satisfying vape and at the same time a flavor I could vape most of the day.
Maverick produced the most vapor of the 5, and they were all good vapor producers too. Try Maverick in an Aerotank with the voltage pushed high enough to deliver warm vapor and you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven. If you’re looking for a throat hit pumping up the voltage is the only way to get it. 5 Stars
JULIA: When I vape a custard-based eLiquid I tend to do double-drags from it. I pull in as much vapor as I can and as I am exhaling that vapor I pull again, pumping my lungs so full of the vapor that my taste buds are experiencing the flavor for several seconds, non-stop. When it’s a really good custard vape I get really aggressive. So with Maverick I am happy to say that I attacked this flavor with as much gusto as I could. The vanilla custard flavor is heavy, creamy, and nonstop. The vapor is damn near frightening, and the overall satisfaction after about 5 steady minutes of vaping is unbelievable. I loved it. 5 Stars
Lady Luck – “A crisp and refreshing blend of green citrus with hints of honeysuckle, kiwi, and pear!”
TOM: Everything I dislike in an eLiquid is here in Lady Luck. Green citrus (?) honeysuckle (floral?) and kiwi are my least favorite flavors. The pear flavor saved Lady Luck from being a complete bomb with me. All in all, I didn’t like this one at all. 2 Stars
JASON: As much as I tried to find some redeeming value with Lady Luck I kept striking out. No matter what time of the day it just wasn’t working.
Then John’s wife stopped by the office one morning and I asked her to try it. She loved it, and I mean really loved it. Since I had tried all day in vain to find something I liked about it and failed, I gave her the rest of my portion of it. The next day I asked her if she still liked it and she told me that she plans to buy more, that it was exactly what she wanted in a great all-day-vape. I asked her to rate this one, she gave it 5 Stars. I give it 2.75 Stars
KEIRA: a woman must have blended Lady Luck. I mean that sincerely. Honeysuckle and Kiwi? I don’t know a single male that would enjoy those flavors. But I sure did. A delicate blend of lime, honeysuckle, kiwi and pear made for one super satisfying all day vape. Lots of vapor, a pretty good throat hit too, Lady Luck is a very different, but very good, flavor.
JULIA: I’m not sure what to say about Lady Luck. It is very different than the others, in some ways a good way and in some ways not. I enjoyed the citrus aspect, it gave it a bit of a kick, but what keeps me away from flavors like this is Kiwi.
I can’t get into a Kiwi unless it is very light, barely there flavor with added sweetener. But here’s the thing; the more I vaped it the more it grew on me. By the end of the first day I had come to terms with Lady Luck, by the end of the 72 hours I accepted her, though I did not make her mine. I will end it with this; if the flavors in the description are appealing to you then by all means give this one a try. For me, it turned out okay. 3.5 Stars
What we have with these 5 flavors, 5 of 6 flavors that make up the Spades (premium) line up are, well, not everything we hoped for.
Maybe the word “premium” is thrown around too much in the eLiquid business these days. Aces Vapor sells their “premium” line for far less than most other premium eLiquid brands. When I asked the team if they thought Spades is in fact a premium line the answer was ‘no’. The reason was fairly simple; none of them blew us away. But that’s okay.
Asking $23 for 60ML of eLiquid is indicative of the lower-priced brands out there, and with Aces Vapor we can say that you will definitely get your money’s worth.
All of the flavors except Maverick were fruity blends, all lightly flavored and well blended. These factors could be what make them all special to Aces Vapor, and not so special with the team. Nearly all of them will appeal to certain vapers as ‘all day vapes’ because they are smooth, sweet, and some are almost indefinable flavors. Maverick was the one shining star among the five and that may be because it was the strongest flavor.
The bottom line is that there wasn’t a unanimous 5 Star flavor among the five we reviewed. But we are very interested in doing a sequel review for several of Aces Vapor’s standard line of eLiquids, if for no other reason to see how the Spades line holds up against the standard line.
Not every new brand is going to hit it out of the park right away. We’ll give Aces Vapor a year to refine their flavors, recipes, and mixing skills. Right now they are above average in the marketplace of more than 500 brands, and with a bit more experience under their belt we’re betting they come out on top and are playing with the big boys in no time.
Tom McBride, Jason Little, Keira Hartley-Barnes and Julia Hartley-Barnes.