A Spinfuel eLiquid Team Review – The Refuge
This review spans 3 pages….
We would like to dedicate this review to Dori Vapinski, our newest eLiquid review contributor. It was her descriptions of The Refuge eliquids that got Dave’s attention, who then told me, and I then contacted The Refuge to see if they might be interested in a Spinfuel eLiquid Team Review. They were, and this is that review.
The Refuge is, I suppose, a boutique line of eLiquids. However, for a premium eliquid line, and they are indeed a premium line, their prices are surprisingly low. I’ll get to those prices shortly. Their Signature line is what we will be reviewing today. Well, ten out of 14 eliquids anyway.
For the most part, The Refuge Signature line is a 50:50 PG:VG formula. There are a couple of eliquids that are 60:40, but for the sake of simplicity you can think of them as a 50:50 line. This 50:50 formula provides plenty of flavor and more than enough vapor production. There isn’t a single flavor that we found to be too weak.
Price & Size
The Refuge Signature line is sold in 15ML and 30ML glass bottles with attractive and informative labels. $10 will buy you a 15ML bottle and a 30ML bottle will set you back just $14.50. For the quality of these eliquids that is very low indeed.
Very little really. They are all full-flavored, but that’s just about it. Some are marvelous all-day-vapes while others are superb vapes that won’t quite take you through the whole day. Then again, that is true of any brand, some flavors just cannot deliver all day, nor should they.
The flavor spectrum range from a luscious custard to a light tropical to a smooth creamy strawberry. They seem to have most of the base categories covered with excellent recipes.
If this is your first Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team review, please head over to our Protocols page so that you can read how we conduct these comprehensive reviews. Our reviews are unlike any you’ve read before, and you should understand why we do the things we do.
Custard Fusion – A Spinfuel Choice Award Winner – “Creamy Vanilla Custard Fused together with just the right amount of butterscotch.” – The Refuge
Julia: 5 Stars – The first time I vaped Custard Fusion I almost swooned. That is the best word to describe it, swooned. It was the perfect custard flavor, floating in my mouth, sinking down into my taste buds and lighting up the pleasure center of my brain all at once. Indescribably delicious, and that “just right” touch of butterscotch gives it that special touch of greatness. A must have eliquid. Very much apart of my rotation.
Tom: 5 Stars – Definitely one of the best custard flavors I’ve had this year. While I do enjoy a custard or a vanilla vape a few times a week it was never something I couldn’t do without. After Custard Fusion I may have to reconsider that position. Rich, flavorful, luscious, and very satisfying. A must try eliquid for any custard lover.
Keira: 5 Stars – I loved this one from the first drag, but there was something about it that seemed different from other fantastic custards I have in my collection. I couldn’t quite figure it out until the second day, when I vaped it within minutes of waking up. It was then that the butterscotch was instantly recognizable. An inspiring choice, and a wonderful eliquid. Added to my rotation.
Jason: 5 Stars – I’m not a huge fan of these flavors, custard, vanilla, butterscotch, and other heavy flavors. I vape them, and I enjoy them, but they can never be an all-day-vape for the same reason they are heavy flavors. I admit though that as far as a custard vape goes, this is one of my favorites. If you like custard flavors this is one you simply must try.
Julia: 5.0 Stars – If there was any chance for me to award Bartlett Pear more than 4 Stars it had best deliver on the “creamy” component. To me, most pear flavors don’t make ‘great’ eliquids, so adding some creaminess to the mix sounded like a great idea… if it worked.
Well, it worked and it worked awesomely. With this eliquid profile you will get a big dose of ripe pear layered with a strong layer of sweet cream, and tropical notes on the exhale, exactly as described. Wonderful vapor, light throat hit, but one hell of an all-day-vape. A new addition to my rotation.
Tom: 4.25 Stars – The creamy pear components worked well. The inhale is full of sweet pear and creamy notes and the only thing preventing me from going to the 5 star level was that distinct tropical component on the exhale. For me that ruined the experience. The tropical notes work against the sweet pear and confuses the flavor profile. Nice vapor, plenty of flavor, and they should definitely offer a tropical-free Bartlett pear juice.
Keira: 4.75 Stars – First, this is an all-day-vape exactly how an all-day-vape should be. Enough flavor to take you through the day, but light enough that it won’t bog you down at the end of the day. The flavor holds up nicely, and the vapor production is excellent. So, why not 5 Stars? The non-sweet tropical notes at the end, that’s why. I think the tropical notes are not necessary here, and it takes away from the luscious pear/cream combo. If you like tropical flavors enough, and if you love pear, this is a eliquid you will love.
Jason: 5 Stars – If I’ve vaped a creamy pear during the past 3 years I don’t remember it. So I am giving you my impression of a flavor profile I’ve never had before. Creamy pear…is…amazing. I loved it. Bartlett Pear is an all-day-vape that touches on all flavor elements. The sweet cream flavor, the sweet ripe red pear flavor, and a nice touch of tropical flavors at the end, this one delivers. I couldn’t ask for a better pear-flavored all-day-vape. If you like pears you’ll love this one, except if tropical flavors creep you out, then the exhale will ruin it for you. For me it was fantastic, and I highly recommend it.
2 Die 4 – “Remember your Grandma’s Apple Pie? A Thick and Ooey Gooey cinnamon filling piled high into a Flaky homemade piecrust. That’s what I’m talking about, its “2 DIE 4” – The Refuge
Julia: 4.5 Stars – My advice when vaping 2 Die 4 is to make doubly sure that you are not vaping it before the coils or wicks have had ample time to saturate. Vaping it too early will yield very little flavor, though lots of vapor. It is only after allowing the coils/wicks/whatever to soak it up completely does this eliquid give up the lusciousness of apple pie with hints of cinnamon.
Tom: 4.25 Stars –I went ahead an loaded up an Aspire Atlantis, .5-ohm coil, on my ZNA up to 28w. Up there in those levels the flavor comes through like a train. When using a 1.8-ohm clearomizer 2 Die 4 became a much milder all-day-vape, losing much of the cinnamon jolt and playing down the piecrust flavor. It’s a good eliquid, but it takes some power to give up the goose.
Keira: – 4.0 Stars – Okay, so maybe this isn’t a heavily flavored apple pie, but that doesn’t take away the excellent vapor clouds and the ability to be an all-day-vape. The description, “A Thick and Ooey Gooey cinnamon filling piled high into a Flaky homemade piecrust” is simply not accurate unless you let the coils soak in the stuff for a couple of hours, and then give it a good 3-second pre-burn. I’m giving it 4 stars because I enjoyed the vape, taking 1 star away because it takes a good long while to get there.
Jason: 4.0 Stars – If the end result is supposed to be an all-day-vape than The Refuge succeeded. If the result was supposed to be a luscious apple pie then it did not. In every way that you would want an all-day-vape to be, just enough flavor, plenty of vapor, 2 Die 4 is something you might want to try. You won’t be smothered in apple pie, but you will enjoy an apple pie flavor all throughout the day.
Pupule – A Spinfuel Choice Award Winner – “Warm Toasted Almonds, Smothered in a Sweet Vanilla, Swirled around a few decadent secrets, but is sure to be a nice and mellow treat for you palette…” The Refuge
Julia: 5 Stars – You see a name like Pupule and you might think like I did; a grape flavor. I mean, come on, Pu-r-ple, grape, right? But, it is anything but grape. What it is… is magnificent. The best all-day-vape in the lineup, this one is so different, yet so amazing, that you will wonder why this flavor profile hasn’t been done before. Toasted Almonds, vanilla, and some other tidbits, combine to create a wonderful vape with plenty of vapor and more than enough flavor to warrant the Spinfuel Choice Award.
Tom: 5 Stars – I made a big mistake the first 30 minutes of my first session with Pupule. I switched out from Coffee Café to Pupule without any time in between, so the flavor was muddied up with coffee and vanilla with almonds. Not a good combo. So I stopped for a while and came back to it with freshly brushed teeth. There it was, a sweet almond milk flavor that engulfed my taste buds with a warm evening glow. Think vanilla ice cream with crushed almonds and you have it. Wonderful. Vapor was amazing too. Not sure I’ll add this to my rotation, but as of now I would never turn down a tankful of this stuff.
Keira: 5 Stars – Ultimately I had to wonder at this point how many of these eliquids would see the Choice Award. Pupule was last on my list, and I had only vaped a couple I didn’t love, so it was time for another miss, but that didn’t happen. Pupule is a sweet vanilla vape wrapped in toasted almonds and it is such a pleasing flavor that I kept vaping it for the rest of the day. Plenty of vapor clouds, plenty of flavor, Pupule is now in my rotation under “sweet all-day-vapes”.
Jason: 5 Stars – I never thought that I could enjoy a flavor like this. Pupule is both sweet and rich, and light and delicate. Rich enough to be very satisfying, yet light enough to vape all day. When I vape eliquids like this one I tend to take really deep, long drags, and that’s what I did here. Then I put it in a Kayfun and that was that. I vaped it till the cows came home, and still wanted more. Don’t misunderstand me, the flavor is unlike anything I’ve had before, almonds and vanilla are two flavors you don’t see together much, but it works…almost too well.
Lush – A Spinfuel Choice Award Winner – “Is a Sweet and Creamy Banana Vape, Layered on a bed of Graham Crackers and Drizzled with Caramel Goodness! ‘LUSH’ should be on any banana lover’s ‘must try list’.” – The Refuge
Julia: 5 Stars – Lush matches the description exactly. A truly magnificent banana and graham cracker vape with caramel notes in exacting proportions. Tons of flavor, awesome vapor production. A new favorite and definitely a part of my rotation. A must have for banana lovers.
Tom: 5 Stars – I don’t say this often, but “Wow”. This is a great banana and graham cracker eliquid. It is so rich, so deeply flavored with exacting proportions of banana and graham crackers. Can’t say I taste the caramel, if its there it is very light, but who cares? This is one of my new favorites.
Keira: 5 Stars – Sometimes a recipe comes out perfectly, and I believe that happened here with Lush. Such a satisfying banana/graham cracker combo that I can say with certainty that if you like a flavor like this, you will adore Lush. Some of The Refuge eliquids have to become available in 120ML bottles because I can’t risk running out of them. J Vapor production, flavor, satisfaction, it’s all there for the taking. 30ML for $14.50? How can you go wrong?
Jason: 5 Stars – The thing I like most about Lush is how well the balance between banana and graham crackers is. I mean this is not overly banana, or overly graham cracker, its just perfect. I can detect the caramel on the exhale, but it like a caramel wisp right at the end. Bravo!
Louie – “Is a light and Mild Tobacco, mixed with fresh Sweet Raspberries, Coupled with a few other Sweet and Creamy fruit blends. ‘LOUIE’ is just like a FINE WINE, the longer it sits the better it is!” – The Refuge
Julia: 3 Stars – Okay, The Refuge is amazing at certain flavors, most flavors really, but tobacco is not one of them. The biggest flavor component here is raspberry, and I’m glad about that. However, that same artificial tobacco notes that plagued Bub’s Backy is here as well. The raspberry flavor, sweet, rich, delicious, is something The Refuge should put out on its own, or mixed with their special creaminess that resides in Bartlett Pear.
Tom: 2.75 Stars – I can’t say much about this one because it’s not a real tobacco eliquid. I can certainly taste the raspberry, but that same tobacco base in Bub’s Backy is here as well.
Keira: 4.5 Stars – Since I enjoyed Bub’s Backy more than the others its only natural that I would enjoy this one as well. The sweet raspberry flavor is terrific, and The Refuge is using the same tobacco eliquid flavorings in this one. If you’ve had Bub’s Backy and you liked it, you’ll like this one the same, or maybe even more depending on how much you like sweet raspberries.
Jason: 3.0 Stars – I gave Bub’s Backy a low score because it’s not much of a tobacco eliquid. I will give this one a slightly higher score because the raspberry flavor is very good. I’d like to see what they can do with this raspberry flavoring. As for their tobacco efforts, that needs a lot of work.
Bub’s Backy – “A Mild yet Dark Tobacco, Rich and Dark in flavors. It is sure to keep you guessing and wanting more!” – The Refuge
Julia: 3.75 Stars – Bud’s Backy isn’t a bad tobacco flavor, it’s just not up to par with “tobacco house” eliquids that I’m used to. I was able to spend all the time I had assigned to it, and it actually got better the longer I vaped it. But there is a slight artificial flavor to it that cannot be dismissed. Tobacco house brands know how to deal with this artificial component, and I’ve no doubt that The Refuge will get better at it, but for now, this is a slightly above average tobacco eliquid.
Tom: 2.75 Stars – I’m not bragging here, but this is my element, the tobacco eliquids. It’s my mainstay flavors, and I know them all. Bub’s Backy misses more than a couple of flavor points in its recipe, the most notable is a lack of real tobacco flavor. There is a soapy component as well, and that right there makes it a tobacco flavor I would not touch again. It’s not a complete loss, and there are plenty of people that will enjoy it, but for vapers that know tobacco ejuice will recognize the flaws immediately.
Keira: 4.25 Stars – Okay, sure, I had passionate discussions with both Tom and Jason over Bub’s Backy, I understand they are truly experts when it comes to tobacco eliquids. Still, I enjoyed it. No, it isn’t nearly as good as some of the tobacco flavors we’ve had before but it shouldn’t be dismissed completely.
Jason: 2.75 Stars – Hurricane Vapor. Rocket Fuel Vapes. When I want a good tobacco eliquid I go to Hurricane Vapor and Rocket Fuel Vapes. It’s as simple as that. They nailed tobacco, and every one of their attempts are award winners in my book. Not every eliquid brand can do that.
Bub’s Backy cannot compete with real tobacco house ejuice, it just can’t. But, I will say this; no eliquid brand is going to hit it out of the park with ever eliquid. The Refuge is a fantastic eliquid brand, and a miss on occasion is fine by me.
Glenn Coco – “Is a sweet Fruity Blend that will take you back to the ‘HIPPIE ERA’, It will leave your taste-buds wanting more of this GROOVY juice!” – The Refuge
Julia: 4 Stars – Glenn Coco was a strange flavor for me. I flavor I didn’t find particularly fruity, though the vapor production was out of this world. I’m giving it 4 stars because of the quality of the eliquid, not the flavor. Maybe is I remembered the hippie days I would recognize it?
Tom: 3.75 Stars – Glenn Coco has a distinctly non-fruity flavor in the sense of fruity flavors that I am used to in an eliquid. I can almost taste an oregano type flavor, or, god forbid, a bit of the mary jane? We all agree that the vapor production is excellent, and the amount of flavor is deep and plentiful, but the flavor does not agree with me. I was disappointed.
Keira: 3 Stars – After a series of wonderful eliquids from The Refuge I was completely lost with Glenn Coco. So lost that I had to double check the bottle and reread the description. I will say this; if you happen to like this flavor, which I cannot process what it is, then you will love this juice. Vapor was awesome, throat hit was really good, the flavor a mystery.
Jason: 4.75 Stars – All right, I too cannot put my finger on the flavor of Glenn Coco, but whatever it is it’s deliciously unique. If you’re in the mood to discover a flavor that you’ve never tasted before you might just want to try this one. Vapor production is great, the flavor is plentiful, and if you’re like me at all you’ll find it an adventure. I loved it.
Coffee Café – A Spinfuel Choice Award Winner “A Mild Italian Roast that is sweetened with Yummy Goodness, Its the best cup of JOE you’ll ever TOOT!” – The Refuge
Julia: 5 Stars – When was the last time we awarded a coffee flavor eliquid with a Spinfuel Choice Award? It has to have been a while. Well, its time to do it again. Coffee Café is a mild and sweet Italian roast that hits every flavor note it should. This is the kind of coffee vape you want to spend too much time with. We vaped 18mg nicotine so the throat hit with this one was exceptional, vapor production was excellent, and the richness of the sweet roast was incredible. Now, one word of warning; if you plan to vape Coffee Café in an Atlantis or Subtank lower the nicotine, and take small drags until you understand how much flavor is packed into this one. I was blown away with it in my Aspire Atlantis. Not an all day vape, but I don’t think it was meant to be.
Tom: 5 Stars – I think Coffee Café was 4th or 5th on my list, and by the time I got to it I was expecting it to be an excellent coffee vape. But I was not ready for this kind of excellence. This is Italian roast done exactly right. Strong flavor, without a hint of bitterness… Sweet, yet full of coffee richness, Coffee Café is on my rotation forever. Great vapor, strong throat hit round out this amazing coffee eliquid.
Keira: 5 Stars – First, I love this eliquid. However, due to its authentic Italian coffee flavor I have to restrict it to morning vaping, with real coffee. While I vaped Coffee Café during various times of the day I found it to be too strong for most of them. In the morning Coffee Café is certainly a A+ eliquid, and I will put into rotation next week. Warning* You might be tempted to overindulge Coffee Café, so be careful. I didn’t want to stop and I wound up feeling woozy after a while.
Jason: 5 Stars – These are the kinds of eliquids I crave; tobacco or coffee. But they have to be excellent ones or they just aren’t worth vaping. Coffee Café is one such excellent eliquid. I love how strong the flavor is, but how smooth, sweet, and satisfying it is at the same time. Coffee vapers will love this one, of that I am positive. So good, and so affordable it’s confusing. I’d pay twice this much for it.
Porn Star – “Sweet Strawberries dancing around in a cloud of Sweet Creamy AWESOMENESS! CAUTION!!..Vaping this could make your clothes fall off! Ha! Ha!..” – The Refuge
Julia: 4.5 Stars – Although I enjoyed my time with Porn Star (name notwithstanding), this is an eliquid that cannot be pushed past voltage or wattage settings that the math indicates. It is simply too delicately balanced and any excessive voltage or power is going to kill the strawberry flavor.
This sweet ripe strawberry blend produces enormous amount of vapor, and is incredibly satisfying as an all-day-vape. There are other strawberry eliquids that do better than Porn Star, but many of those are not all-day-vapes because the flavor is simply too heavy to take you through the day. So, in the end, I would recommend two thing; one they change the name (seriously) and two, but this one is you want a strawberry vape as an all-day-vape. Oh, and don’t take it past 3.8v on a 1.8ohm coil.
Tom: 4 Stars – I enjoyed this one because it is a fine all-day-vape with just enough strawberry flavor. The Refuge could have made it more flavorful but then I don’t think it would have made it as a juice you could vape from sun up to sun up. I would call Porn Star a “delicate strawberry vape”, not quite what I had in mind with the words “porn star”. J
Keira: 5 Stars – This is really a nice quiet strawberry eliquid that will make an excellent all-day-vape. It won’t hit you over the head with a heavy dose of strawberry, which makes it perfect for all day. Vapor production is higher than most of the others. I would recommend it as a light strawberry flavor with creamy notes for anyone looking for an all-day-vape of the strawberry kind.
Jason: 3.75 Stars – I can certainly understand the all-day-vape description the team is giving porn star. If that’s what you want, this is the one to try. But for me, I like my flavors stronger than this. Recommended for strawberry lovers looking for something they can vape for hours on end.
It’s easy to see that the strong suit for The Refuge is in the strong flavored bananas, vanilla, custard, and coffee flavors. This is where they shine, and that’s a good place to be. Tobacco flavors are anything but easy, so The Refuge should not be offended at the critical response for their tobacco entries. We recommend they keep trying, and to seek out the best tobacco flavors they can find. They’ve proven their premium eliquid status by producing award-winning flavors, now they need to focus on areas in which they are weak, or abandon them.
Jason says that not every eliquid brand should “do” tobacco flavors, and I think that’s right. Some mixologist have a knack for tobacco, some have a knack for the sweeter, richer flavors.
It is our hope that we will be able to bring you a ‘sequel’ review next year, because I believe we can expect to see great things for The Refuge. With the number of eliquids that we review on a consistent basis, when we choose to add an eliquid to our personal rotations it’s a big deal. Coffee Café, Custard Fusion, and Pupule, and Lush are all eliquids we have added to our personal vaping. For a first time review, that is spectacular.
Let’s face it; the opportunity to buy this kind of quality for $14.50 for a 30ML glass bottle doesn’t happen often. You should certainly opt for the 30ML size, and you should be 100% confident that our award-winning flavors will become some of your prized juice. When I saw the last of Lush and Custard Fusion go into a glassomizer I felt like I had to place an order that second.
Lastly, we make a public apology to for taking so long to get to this review. Simply stated, we are backing away from 9-10 flavor reviews beginning in January. Our commitment to spending 72-96 hours exclusively vaping only the brand under review requires every one on the team to be in the right place. That being the case we wind up reviewing eliquids that come in later than others because they have 4 or so flavors to them. That is what happened with the ten flavors in this review.
So, beginning January 1st, 2015 we will limit reviews to 4 flavors and we will spend 36 hours with them exclusively. You’ll get more reviews of more brands in a shorter space of time. A win-win, we think.
Till next time!
Julia, Tom, Keira, and Jason