Johnson Creek – Have a Drink, Won’t You?
A couple of weeks ago the Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team was once again invited to partake in vaping a few prerelease eliquids from Johnson Creek Vapor Company. It’s almost become a tradition, and we love it. But, don’t for a minute think we have any obligation to write some kind of glowing review, we don’t. The thing is, Johnson Creek believes in what they do, and we’ve never seen them release an eliquid that wasn’t ready, or a flavor that ‘fills the gap’ in their lineup. JCVC is methodical, deliberate, and relentless when it comes to perfecting a flavor, or a formula.
The Cocktail Hour
Johnson Creek Vapor Company cooked up four new flavors from a category I personally never believed Johnson Creek was interested in…. Cocktail Beverages. Maybe I never considered JCVC would go in that direction because I never go that way. Well, not since 2012 anyway.
Cocktail eJuice of the Past
Way back when (2012) nearly all the eliquids we used contained high PG (Propylene Glycol) levels. We wanted 80/20 ratios, 80% PG, 20% VG back then, and anything else didn’t interest us. We wanted intense flavors and wicked throat hits, and the PG got us there, in spades. The only problem? Back then, cocktail beverage eliquids tasted like concentrated alcoholic drinks, with super intense flavors, flavors that included the alcohol taste, and they were, mostly, awful.
We avoided these cocktail eliquids after our initial run-in with them, and never looked back. If you go through all 300+ eliquid reviews in Spinfuel you should be able to count the Cocktail flavors on a single hand.
Cocktail Beverages… Reimagined
Today, in 2016, the PG/VG ratios have been turned upside down. Our ‘tastes’ have changed, matured, and today we want subtle flavors, mixed with thick, heavy, aromatic vapor. We don’t care much about throat hits anymore, its more about the vape experience of flavor + satisfaction + ample clouds.
Personal vaping is all High VG or Max VG, lower nicotine levels, and demanding quality ingredients. I think this is one of the major reasons Johnson Creek and the Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team are just a great match. They understand flavor, and most importantly, they understand the vital “vape experience” is key to successful brand loyalty.
So, how would JCVC approach the cocktail beverage eliquid segment, in today’s environment?
JCVC and the Cocktail
The four brand new eliquids follow in the same production steps every Johnson Creek Vapor Company eliquid. All the ingredients are sourced from American companies. All the eliquids are made, bottled, and shipped in the USA. So, let’s start from there; these four new cocktail flavored eliquids have the rich tradition of being created in the Johnson Creek Vapor Company’s extremely high quality standards.
The Formulation Factor
As we mentioned above, these new eliquids are High VG formulas.
The are either 75% VG, or 80% VG, with a PG ratio of 20% or 25%, depending on the particular flavor. Johnson Creek formulated them for use in Sub-Ohm Tanks, RDA’s, and RBA’s. For the review we decided to use both Leisure and Workout Sub-Ohm tanks, while leaving RDA’s or RBA’s out of it.
Although the VG (Vegetable Glycerin) ratios are high, the viscosity of the four eliquids is more like 50:50 formulas. Oh, the certainly produced vapor like High VG ejuice, but filling tanks was easy due to the the four lacking a heavy syrup character.
The Cocktail by Name
Johnson Creek Vapor Company chose four cocktails that represent four very distinct flavors in the world of Cocktail Beverages. The flavor profile for each one presented quite a challenge for the team. Imagine you were in bar, would you order a Mint Julep and follow that up with a White Russian? Probably not. In the same way, because of the nature of these unique flavors we needed time, and a couple of other things, between moving from one flavor to the other. Hopefully you’ll understand by the end of this review.
The Johnson Creek Vapor Company Cocktail Line
Johnson Creek launches these four magnificent eliquids today. They are priced at; 30mL glass bottles – $16.95, 10mL for $5.95. Thought, let’s face it, if you like the flavor, that 10mL of eliquid will be long gone before you can order a replacement bottle. After vaping these cocktail eliquids we are now, more than ever, hoping that JCVC will begin to offer their eliquids in 60mL and 120mL sizes.
Vape Gear Used
Tom – Vaporshark DNA200 – WISMEC RX Reuleaux 200, eVic VTC 75w with Tron tank, Uwell Crown, and Kanger Subtank w/Atom Vapes Ceramic
Kiera – Mini Volt w/Vengeance Tank, Lavabox DNA200 w/Defiant tank, and Uwell Rafele with .1-ohm Ni200 coils, ProVape Radius w/CoV Phoenix Tank
Scoring System (New)
Naturally, when dealing with a company like Johnson Creek Vapor Company you get to a place where you know the brand so well that there is no question the eliquids are made in lab quality environments, bottled in professional, on-site facilities, and packaged and shipped in pristine conditions.
The fact that reviewing eliquids like these from Johnson Creek, and a handful or other brands that use the same level of professionalism in their eliquids, has caused this team to really think about how we score e-liquids, and what our readers are looking for from our reviews.
There was a time when popular e-liquid brands were made in an apartment kitchen, and bottled by hand on the dining table. Ingredients were inconsistent, purchased when they went on sale, and stored in closets when they weren’t in use. The photos we’ve seen, the hands on a couple of us have witnessed are horror stories. Much has changed.
Those were the days when the Spinfuel eLiquid Team Reviews could do real “good”. We helped you feel confidence in your choice brands, and we hopefully steered you away from these lesser brands.
JCVC and companies like them truly changed the way things are done in the eliquid segment of the industry. Now most companies either outsource to multi-million dollar facilities, or build their own very expensive clean rooms and packing and shipping areas at the cost of several hundred thousand dollars.
Scoring the brands and their eliquids in the old ways does nothing for Johnson Creek, or for you, our readers. Of course Johnson Creek Vapor Company is a 5-star eliquid manufacturer, so in order to best serve our readers, and Johnson Creek and others like them, we believe we need to be less “objective” and more “subjective”. Otherwise, our reviews would come down to a checklist and if a brand had enough items checked on that checklist they would all earn Spinfuel Choice Awards. So we need to do better, we need to put more weight on the ‘vape experience’, which includes how we liked the flavor, was the vapor production good, or great, and was there enough substance to the vaping that we felt satisfied afterwards.
We all know Johnson Creek e-liquids are made in pristine conditions with top-shelf ingredients…but, how close is their White Russian to a real White Russian? Did JCVC nail the Mint Julep, or did they produce a minty flavor and decide to call it a Mint Julep? Same thing with Fuzzy Navel? Is a just a peach eliquid, or is there the essence of a genuine Fuzzy Navel? Finally, how about Hard Cider? Is it an apple flavored eliquid with a fancy name and description, or is it something more?
These are the questions we asked ourselves, and these are the standards we set for these four cocktail beverage eliquids. We believe the outcome of this review has defined for us the next stage in the evolution of the Spinfuel eLiquid Team Review.
Unlike most eliquid reviews by this team in the past, we’ll address the essence of the eliquids and how closely JCVC came to recreating these legendary adult beverages in vapor form. We hope you will find it helpful.
Bourbon and Refreshing Mint
“Just like the original cocktail, we’ve taken a few simple ingredients to create a flavorful, refreshing drink e-liquid flavor. Bourbon, mint, and a little something extra to make it sweet. Enjoy on or off the racetrack”
Julia: 5.00 – Okay, well, first, Mint Julep is definitely more than a minty vape, though the mint flavor is exquisite. Not too strong, not too weak, and definitely on the sweet side. I don’t taste the Bourbon, though where JCVC says “and a little something extra” I admit that there is, so maybe that’s the bourbon.
Even though Mint Julep has a 75% VG ratio and not the 80% two of the four have, the vapor production is huge. This eliquid tasted closer to a real Mint Julep in the Crown Tank by Uwell than it did in the Herakles Plus tank, so you can expect subtle flavor differences depending on which tank you use. I’m not all that familiar with what a real Mint Julep is, but the bottom line is that this cocktail eliquid is heavy with vapor, and has a clean, minty sweetness going on. I loved it! – FLAVOR 5.00
Kiera – 5.00 – Bourbon and Mint, simple right? Not really. If you don’t want your eliquid be to perceived as a simple minty vape you better be sure you can deliver a flavor that can be remembered as being something more. I think that best way to approach a Mint Julep eliquid would be to think more Julep, and let the (spear)mint flavor fall to where it will.
Consider the other elements in a Mint Julep. Consider the bourbon, choose a deep flavored bourbon flavoring, one that boils the bourbon down to the essence of bourbon, without the alcohol edge. Combine that deep flavored bourbon with a sugar syrup tinged with spearmint, mix well, and steep it long enough so that all the ingredients are fully married. If I were a betting girl, I would bet that JCVC did just that.
Johnson Creek’s Mint Julep is the closest eliquid yet to taste like a real Mint Julep. The flavor is heavy, saturated, full, and the mint part is sweet, spearmint, and the only tastebuds that light up are the ones that react to sweet and minty, just like its supposed to. It’s also the biggest producer of thick aromatic vapor. FLAVOR – 5.00
Tom – 5.00 – Without a doubt the best Mint Julep eliquid I’ve tasted yet. This is not one of those ‘cheats’, an eliquid that has sweet mint flavors and then flowery language describing a Race Day Mint Julep in hopes of a placebo effect.
I vaped Mint Julep during several periods of the day, right after a meal, right after brushing my teeth, and right after time spent with another eliquid in this review. The truest flavor comes from Mint Julep after brushing my teeth, (a blank slate) but in all the other occasions it only took 1 or 2 lung hits to cut through the previous ‘tastes’ to reveal the real Mint Julep flavors. Hell, I half expected to see bits of spearmint in the bottle.
Whenever there is a bourbon component to an eliquid it’s a tricky thing to get right. I don’t know how JCVC was able to get that perfect bourdon blend, but they did. It’s there, but in ways that balance the spearmint, not distract it, nor get lost in it.
I vaped every drop of Mint Julep faster than I should have. When it came time to discuss the eliquids I had nothing left to remind me. Then again, I didn’t need a reminder. This stuff is awesome, and my favorite of the four. FLAVOR – 5.00
Jason – 5.00 – From my first lung hit to my last I devoured Mint Julep like no other minty eliquid ever. Even with my huge lung capacity I wanted larger and larger lung hits from this incredible flavor. Funny (or sad?) thing is, my favorite tank for Mint Julep was the CoV Defiant, while the Target cCell tank provided the least amount of flavor. I didn’t expect that. After using 3 tanks I finished my time with the Defiant tank vaped at 60w.
At 60w with the Defiant the mouthpiece gets way too hot to use after the 3rd lung hit, but rather than go for a tank I could vape more often from, I decided that the deep, deep, flavor that IS Mint Julep was worth waiting for with the Defiant tank. The vapor production at 60w in the Defiant was stupid huge, and people around me all complimented the aroma of the eliquid, and they did not complain about the fact that I fogged up the room. FLAVOR – 5.00+
Juicy Peach with a Splash of Citrus
Inspired by the cocktail, this drink e-liquid flavor is tropical, sweet, and vibrant. Crafted with juicy peach and fresh orange flavor, we blend in pineapple and lime for a splash of tart citrus.
Julia: 5.00 – Oh how I dreaded vaping Fuzzy Navel. I love peach flavored eliquids but I know that a Fuzzy Navel is a lot more than just peaches. And as much as I love real peaches, when you go and mix orange in it, a bit of lime, and even a fizziness to it, I was afraid that this cocktail would not transfer well to a vapor. Boy, was I wrong!
Fuzzy Navel is peach cocktail with other flavor components that complemented the peach well. In fact, Fuzzy Navel turned out to be a new and genuinely original way of presenting a peach eliquid that is lively, bright, and fun to vape.
However, I don’t see myself vaping this one again. For my, that inherent fizziness, or tartness from the orange, isn’t something I look for in a nice vape. Others, vapers that love Fuzzy Navel drinks will adore this one, JCVC did an awesome job, it’s just not my kind of flavor. FLAVOR – 5.00 (not right for me)
Kiera – 5.00 – This is an eliquid that Julia and I have a big disagreement over. We both agree that all the flavor components that we can actually taste, the peach, lime, orange, are all there, in abundance, where we disagree is that citrus component, what Julia tells me is the fizzy part of the equation. There isn’t anything I don’t love about Fuzzy Navel, and that tart citrus is the capper on a delicious blend of marvelous flavors.
When we go out on the town we don’t order Fuzzy Navels, but I had a life before Julia, on the Florida beaches, where Fuzzy Navels were something I drank many, many times. This vapor form of a Fuzzy Navel by Johnson Creek reminds me of the best Fuzzy Navel I’ve ever had, at a bar in Miami.
Best vape, for me, for Fuzzy Navel was with the Rafale by Uwell, using the .1-ohm Ni200 coil head, at 60w and 540 degrees. Pure, warm vapor, deep, deep, flavor. Perfection! FLAVOR – 5.00
Tom – 5.00 – Believe it or not, the best vape for Fuzzy Navel came from using the Kanger Subtank and the Atom Vapes Ceramic Coils. Wattage was set to just 38w, and the vapor production and flavor were truly outstanding.
Every ingredient, the peach, orange, lime, even pineapple was present and accounted for. I try to use the word ‘perfect’ as little as possible, but I have to hand it to Johnson Creek for getting the mix of these flavors perfect.
One warning – I don’t care what tank you use, or mod, the first two, possibly three lung hits from Fuzzy Navel is going to leave a funky aftertaste. I believe its due to this very complex blend of flavors and the extra citrus punch you’ll feel. Once you get past that, its gone, and what’ left is perfect Fuzzy Navel. It also packs a throat hit even at 3mg nicotine, so beware if your nicotine level is a lot higher. Don’t give up from the first few hits, Fuzzy Navel is magnificent. FLAVOR – 5.00
Jason – 5.00 – I agree with everything Tom said during our discussion. It is an amazing Fuzzy Navel replication in vapor form. All the flavor components make themselves known, and the vapor is extraordinary. The thing is, I just don’t appreciate a Fuzzy Navel cocktail, or as an eliquid. So while I agree the flavor is spot on a Fuzzy Navel cocktail, it’s not for me. Thankfully, Kiera wanted what I didn’t use up, and she vaped it up in a few hours. FLAVOR – 5.00 (but not for me)
Dark Roasted Creamy Classic
White Russian is a sophisticated cocktail classic. Roasted coffee bean and mocha flavors create a robust undertone that swims in rich cream drink e-liquid flavor. We rounded out this vape with a hint of Bavarian cream to add some sweetness for a balanced flavor.
Note* As a team we agreed that Johnson Creek chose to replicate a White Russian that is made with Kahlua, a coffee liquor, and not the usual dark roasted coffee flavoring. We certainly could be wrong. No one tasted Vodka either, another ingredient found in a White Russian, but Vodka really doesn’t have a taste to it, so there it is.
Julia: 5.00 – In some ways White Russian is the best tasting eliquid I’ve ever had in my life. However, in order to get there, I need to vape White Russian slowly. Here’s why; JCVC built this multifaceted cocktail with carefully constructed layers of dark roasted coffee, cream, and Kahlua or Kahlua-like flavor.
Without that Kahlua-like flavor I would wager that I could take a strong, fast lung hit and get back a fantastic coffee/cream vape, but with the addition of Kahlua there is the element of its own complex flavor. Too fast, too deep and you’ll destroy that careful blend, and what you get back is a harsh and horrible flavor “mashup”.
When you vape White Russian with a good sub-ohm tank at about .5-ohm or a little lower, with plenty of wattage, and you do so with a steady but slow inhale the return is a perfect rendition of a genuine White Russian, one of my favorite cocktails.
That blend of a deeply dark roasted coffee flavor mixing with a heavy, sweet cream and the delicate flavor of heavy and sweet Kahlua coffee liquor creates a heavenly flavor and thick, wonderful clouds of vapor I’ve not ever experienced before.
Sadly, I vaped through my bottle and part of Kiera’s before the review period was up. I am patiently waiting for the 17th so I can stock up. But, be warned, you must vape White Russian slowly, and return is worth it. FLAVOR 5.00
Kiera – 5.00 – White Russian will be in the running for eliquid of the year if I have anything to say about it. But it didn’t start out that way. My first time with White Russian I filled the Defiant tank, put it on my DNA 200 Lavabox, and after priming the tank with a few light pre-burns I set the wattage to 20w, and moved up the scale till I hit 45w. The flavor at low wattages was more coffee than anything else, and with cool vapor it didn’t impress. When I got to the 40+ watts the flavor came alive and the vapor served up warm. When I found my spot, 45 watts, I took a huge lung hit and exhaled. The result of that was this harsh blend of coffee, cream, and a Kahlua-like flavor that lit up all my tastebuds. I was crushed. Julia and I drink a lot of White Russians when we go out, and what I tasted wasn’t anything like our favorite drink.
I told Julia about it and she immediately told me I was vaping White Russian all wrong (okay, sure). The secret she said was to vape it slowly, the way we sip a White Russian instead of downing it like it was glass of chocolate milk. So, I did, and what a huge difference it made. With a single slow inhale White Russian turned into a real White Russian and it was blissful as the real thing. This eliquid must be savored to be enjoyed. Trust me on this. FLAVOR 5.00
Tom – 5.00 – I saved White Russian till last, and during the last day of the review period Julia kept telling me that all I would really need was “maybe 5ml”, the rest I should give to her. LOL.
Julia has been known to do this before with prerelease eliquids, but the occasions are few and far between. I asked her is this was a special flavor to her, and if it was, why? She told it was, but it was an eliquid that had to be vaped in slow motion, long, deep inhales, but slowly… with very slow exhales. She said otherwise I would bruise the flavor. Bruise the flavor???
I could go on and on about Julia’s lecture on White Russian, but instead I’ll just tell you that she’s right about it. It does taste better when vaped slower than you would most other eliquids, but I enjoyed it as much vaping it the way I do all other eliquids. I don’t drink White Russians, I don’t much care for Kahlua, but JCVC did good with this, the dark roasted coffee is a much better flavor than a coffee liquor, and some people, like Julia, will praise it like nothing else. If you like White Russians you will love this eliquid, and if you don’t, you probably won’t. FLAVOR 5.00
Jason – 5.00 – The only time in my life I tasted a White Russian was a night, years ago, in a bar. I was sitting at the bar, talking to a gorgeous woman who was drinking White Russians the entire night. We briefly talked about why she only drank White Russians and she asked me to try it. For me it was way too sweet, though I did like the coffee flavor it had. But I’m a beer drinker, so that one sip was it. Never thought about it again, except when the gang gets together and Julia and Kiera are drinking them down like crazy.
So, White Russian as an eliquid. Honestly, I enjoyed the eliquid more than I did the White Russian at the bar, as far as I remember anyway, the deep dark roasted coffee and the real Bavarian cream it was pretty damn delicious. Tons of vapor from this ejuice too. I wound up vaping about 15mL over the course of a day and gave the rest to John’s wife, who thanked me profusely because she sampled it from Julia and loved the stuff. That is rare when Lisa will take eliquid from the review team when offered, so you know there is something really special about White Russian.
I have to admit that JCVC recreated the White Russian perfectly. If you love White Russians than by all means, buy this and you’ll enjoy the same flavors in vapor form. Johnson Creek Vapor Company nailed the flavor of a White Russian in ways that weren’t possible a couple of years ago. FLAVOR 5.00
Crisp Apple Cider and Mulled Spices
Inspired by the cocktail, we started this drink e-liquid flavor with two apple varieties for an authentic crisp flavor. Then we add pear and other fruit notes to mellow out the flavor. Like a true mulled cider, we incorporated spice notes and a splash of rum for that “hard cider” bite.
Julia: 5.00 – It’s the “mulled spices” that make JCVC’s Hard Cider special. In fact, had they left the spices out I don’t think I would have liked enough to vape an entire 30mL bottle. But, my goodness (I have to keep it clean here), the way JCVC put this flavor together, well, this will be the first Hard Cider eliquid I will add to my rotation.
Hard Cider, the name, doesn’t really do this eliquid justice. I taste more sweet ripe pears than I do apple, although the crisp apple flavor component is there. So, in essence, this is a blend of ripe pears, a splash of concentrated rum, minus that rum alcohol edge, some dense spices, and apple notes. Hardly Hard Cider is you ask me, but then again, I’ve never had Hard Cider, so maybe it is.
What I do know is this blend of Hard Cider is going to be in my rotation for a long time. It’s complex, very satisfying, and downright delicious. FLAVOR – 5.00
Kiera – 5.00 – First the flavor; delicious doesn’t begin to cover it. Hard Cider by JCVC is more than delicious. Second, that amazing flavor is found in the warm vapor, either high wattage or high temperatures. Vaped in the lower wattage or cool temps the entire flavor profile is different. To enjoy this special eliquid from Johnson Creek, vape it warm. Trust me.
Now, Julia says she tastes the pear first, and I agree. I don’t know why, I know Tom and Jason may see it differently. I do taste crisp green apple too, but it gets buried in the mulled spices, which themselves are simply incredible.
There is a lot of Hard Cider in New Hampshire, and I’ve had it many times in the past, in the fall mostly. While some may think this tastes like Hard Cider you buy in bottles, I think it tastes more like the Hard Cider you can get at apple orchards in NH, served hot. Although in NH there is less pear flavor, but the mulled spices are identical. Added to my rotation, as is White Russian and Fuzzy Navel.
Tom – 5.00 – During our discussions over these eliquids I came away thinking that the girls had it in their heads that this Hard Cider tasted like homemade Hard Cider, whereas I thought this was more like the various Hard Ciders you can buy in stores. We all thought it tasted great, and we all want more of it. But, for myself, this Hard Cider is more of the alcohol-tinged Hard Cider in cold bottles, and I really enjoyed it. FLAVOR – 5.00
Jason – 5.00 – Hard Cider was the first of the four for me. I’ve never had much Hard Cider before, just a couple of bottles at some party, so I was anxious to see what they tasted like, or at least what Johnson Creek thought they tasted like.
As it turned out, I had all but forgotten about the other three flavors until I had vaped my way through the entire 30mL bottle. What did it for me was the blend of the spices and this mix of apple and pear flavors; the flavors were complex, deep, and delicious. I’ve never tasted another eliquid that comes close this one. You must try a bottle. FLAVOR – 5.00
Clearly, these four eliquids are great examples of Cocktail-style eliquids, and each of the four are terrific examples of how close the artists at Johnson Creek can get in reproducing the complex concoctions. Johnson Creek Vapor Company put a lot of research into these flavors and chose them with great care. They all deserve the Spinfuel Choice Award, and are hereby given that award. However, please note that the Award is given for the amazing flavors, the vapor production, and the vape satisfaction, not the already known high quality of JCVC standards.
These High VG eliquids, designed for Sub-ohm tanks and RDA’s do a great job with vapor production, and anyone that enjoys these cocktails should try them in a sub-ohm tank, with warm vapor, for the best experience.
These four cocktail eliquids go on sale March 17th. We recommend all of them, and we urge anyone that tries them to come back and let us know how closely we were to what you thought of them. Taste is subjective, but if you drink Mint Juleps, or Fuzzy Navels, or Hard Cider, or White Russians, then you know what to expect. Come tell us if you believe JCVC got as close as we think they did.
Julia – White Russian
Kiera – Fuzzy Navel/White Russian
Tom – Hard Cider/Mint Julep
Jason – Mint Julep/Hard Cider
Till next time,
The Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team – Julia and Kiera Hartley-Barnes, Tom McBride, and Jason Little