A bard in the garden – a tobevaping Thanksgiving tale

It was late on Thanksgiving when the 18 wheeler finally rolled to a stop in Emerald city, Oregon.“That’s it son”, drawled my driver, companion and fellow vaper since Anchorage, “I gotta’ meet my girl and her kin for eats and I ain’t sure if I can bring you too”.
After several thousand miles of some of the worst roads on the continent, I was ready for a real bed and a meal that did not involve beans or franks so I shook the Truckers hand and gave him my last bottle of Van Dykes Black Ninja as a thank you on Thanksgiving.
I then spent the rest of the evening trudging from hotel to motel around town, sadly everywhere was closed and as my trusty Magma drained dry, night closed in and I began to worry.
My worries were drowned out by a man loudly singing Tales of Brave Ulysses in the garden of one of those gothic gingerbread houses that you see all over small town America. With nothing to lose, I joined him in song and as we finished he popped his head over the hedge and invited me inside,” Come fellow bard, you look cold and hungry and there are plenty of leftovers.”
After a hearty meal, the bards wife brought over a tray of clinking bottles and what looked like a mod made from an old locomotives steam whistle, “Do you vape?” asked the lovely lady, entranced by her beauty, I simply produced my trusty old Cana to roars of delighted laughter from my hosts. “These are all herbal e lixirs made with 100% natural flavours by a master herbalist”, said the Bard and named after myself and some of our friends he said enveloping the master herbalist in a big hug.
(All 50/50 PG/VG, 4mg/ml, e lixirs were vaped using Japanese cotton in a Magma at 1.7 ohms on a Cana firing 15 watts.)
First up came a liquid they called Fire and Powder – Cinnamon covered blood orange with hints of clove and vanilla in the background. The clove is softened by the vanilla but it comes forward the more you vape. It’s a soft seductive e lixir as good as POETS torte de arnica! Sublime : )
Then came An Honest Puck – Mandarin (more peel than fruit) gently enfolded in mint with vanilla and helichrysum. The citrus and mint are mild top notes with the vanilla mellowing out the slight bitterness of the curry plant (helichrysum). I also got hints of wheatgrass on the exhale. This is a vape that would go very well with a Pimms, a ban the bomb protest or even a meeting of the local coven of beekeepers.
Next was A Night in Messina – Lavender and vanilla embrace like lovers in a Klimt painting. This tastes like the best artisan gelato in the world, made by mad culinary scientists snorting Bunsen vapor. Unique or if not, only comparable to Thenancara’s Benedicte on the WTF scale. Another unforgettable vape : )
Followed by Kate’s Bliss – Chamomile / camomile / manzanilla with vanilla and rose, sadly the chamomile overpowers the vanilla and the rose floats just above them both. Again this is another vape that would go well with herbal tea, tie dying your volkswagen camper van or a flower filled summer of love. Personally I would prefer less chamomile and more rose and vanilla.
Finally we tried Tale of Fallen Kings – Earl grey, anise, vanilla, rooibos with allspice. Another mild vape that skilfully blends all of the aforementioned ingredients, without emphasis on any one in particular. A slight nose tickle here, but not enough to make you sneeze. This one is like a good herbal tea, for morning vaping in my humble opinion.
We finished the evening off with a large jar of barrel aged moonshine that tasted even better than Pappy Van Winkles finest and I slept like a log on mogadon. A special evening spent with good people and great vaping to boot, it was the best Thanksgiving ever.
For more information on herbal elixirs, please visit http://www.tobevaping.com and enjoy 100% natural ingredients from savoury to sweet, there is something for all palates and rumour has it that they intend to release new flavours very shortly.


Van Dyke’s Vapes, a family affair.

Van Dyke’s

For clarity, today we will not be talking about Disney’s darling Dick, friend of penguins, the chin concealing beards, the Psychedelic ’60s rockers, nor will we be making tediously predictable sapphic vehicle witticisms.

Today is all about the juice, e liquids from Yorkshire in the UK. All liquids were 50/50 PG/VG, 6mg/ml and vaped at 1.8 ohms in a Magma using celu-cotton, firing on 15 watts.

Ivory Pippin:
With enough butter to make even Nigella Lawson blush, this vape is like a soft winter pudding served with something special… did I mention the butter? A great dessert vape filled with liqueur (Almond / Baileys?) alongside hints of butterscotch and a mellow or mild apple centre. It is a dessert that firmly occupies the opposite end of the apple spectrum to Venus in Vapes by Halcyon Haze, it is a quiet, subtle vape that is almost perfumed.

I am putting this aside and look forward to trying it again in the future, I feel this will only improve as the buttery pastry notes fade into the mix.

Dragon Punch:
Like Dragon Oil from Alfaliquid only sweeter, much sweeter. If you like the unusual taste of fresh Pitahaya or Sugar apple as it is also known, then this is for you, all the fruit, only in vape form. As you might expect, it tastes just like the precocious offspring of a rogue strawberry who fell in love with a rebellious kiwi fruit.

Black Ninja:
A blackjack lazily swimming in a pool of unadulterated Ribena, or for those of you who have never tasted either, like a Pernod and Black, but without the ice, the alcohol or the knowing smirk from the barman.

A great liquorice and blackcurrant vape, plainly and simply delicious.

For more information on the real Van Dyke’s contact www.vandykevapes.com Only 4.99 per bottle of family made goodness, they also have a large selection of assorted vape gear.

El Toro, tobacco e liquids with a capital T or truly historic vaping!

Lost in the Everglades, proved to be a revelation or a revolution, you decide…

The rental was wrecked, the ‘gator that had caused me to swerve into the ditch, shook itself in annoyance, snapped its jaws shut and slowly disappeared off into the swamp, leaving me kicking what was left of the car, cursing in frustration.

After a heated phone call to the agency, I left the car and walked for what seemed like miles… before I came across a lone shack, alongside a weathered wooden pier stretching out into the shimmering water.

Occupied by a wizened old man, quietly fishing away, puffing on what looked like an engraved Cana topped by a Magma.

“Que pasa hermano?” He asked.

I looked at him blankly as he patted the worn, sun kissed deck, to his left.

“Sientate!” said the old man and smiling again, he turned to open a cooler, pulling out two small glasses which he proceeded to fill with what looked suspiciously like treacle.

He handed me a fishing rod “A pescar!” he ordered, offering me his vape at the same time.

Normally I am not one to share a drip tip, but it had been a long day and despite the old fellow’s rather questionable dental hygiene, I grasped it like a drowning man might grab a straw.

“Grassy ass” was all I managed, before I inhaled what felt like Cuba’s entire annual cigar production, but without the tar… or the coughing. I checked the display, 2.4 ohms firing at 15 watts, but this liquid had to be at least 12 mg/ml, a little more than I normally vape.

I glanced over at the old plumer in surprise, “this is exceptional”, I said, “exactly like the real thing….”

“It is a replica of the first batch of cigars liberated from the Duque de Espinacas. It took years to perfect, its 100% natural tobacco extract in a 50/50 PG/VG mix, it’s called Puros.”

That displaced Duque had good taste, it was like … coffee, chocolate and nuts with an undertone of butterscotch all blending together in the vortex of a smoky hurricane.

After dealing with a brief interruption from a rogue ‘gator trying to grab a bait box, with either a very large knife or a short sword, the tough old man sat back down and handed me another Magma, full of what he called, Puros dark.

“This e liquid is exactly like the cigars Raul loved, darker, heavier, more coffee, cacao and nuts, enough nuts to make a starving squirrel happy, no?” said the sprightly fossil with a twinkle in his dark eyes.

He was right, this was a huge flavour, but enjoyable, albeit in small doses, with what tasted like a truck full of peanuts crammed inside.

I swallowed what had to be a Flor de Cana, Centenario, my rod dipping and bobbing as I returned the vape and the empty glass, trying to play it cool and conceal my increasing interest in this ancient fisherman.

He fiddled for a moment in his tackle box and once again produced another two glasses filled with what looked and smelt like whisky, he handed me the Cana with the Magma top and smiling encouraged me to vape on.

So I did, after all… it would have been rude not too.

This time I inhaled a Perique e juice, rich, fruity and slightly sweet, unmistakeably from Louisiana, extremely rare, normally cased in a hickory whisky barrel and best enjoyed slowly with Bourbon, or in case of emergency, a good Rye. I sipped slowly, enjoying what may have well have been a Blanton’s Single Barrel reserve?

“I first enjoyed this combination when el Comandante and I took a sugar plantation from an old pipe smoker and we sat on his porch, listening to Benny Goodman for hours, until the rain passed and we moved forward.” He said… spitting into the water.

I sat quietly, gobsmacked, distracted by a lone dragonfly investigating my shoes, my mind reeling as my brain attempted to assimilate his words.

Grabbing the box mod out of my hand he also managed to rinse out the glasses, screw another Magma in, and before I knew it, my hand was carefully wrapped around another glassful of pale nectar.

I felt my back muscles relax under the hot sun in Florida as I puffed on a cheroot or the strongest cigarette flavour I ever tasted.

Bebe! Muttered the old man clinking his glass against mine, staring deep into my eyes, I did, quaffing a chilled tawny port (at very least a 40 year old Vista Alegre) that played across my palate like a symphony, in tandem with the Guevara e liquid.

“Ernesto and I shared these together in Nicaragua, right before he disappeared off into a Bolivarian fantasy world of eternal revolution, never to be seen again… el muy cabron!”

My rod jerked and as I fought to maintain my seat and reel in what seemed like two giant ‘gators angrily discussing who would drag me into the swamp.

Unconcerned, the wrinkled Cuban magician, produced two beers and yet another Magma, full of what he called “Beerheenia preemeh” or Virginia Prime.

As I reached for the vape, the rod was abruptly torn from my grasp, the ancient Cuban laughed, placing a cold bottle in my raw hands.

“Tuviste suerte hijo” he said and pointed at two of the ugliest reptiles I had ever seen busy snapping my rod into matchsticks.

Shuddering at the sight, I slaked the Yeungling and enjoyed a great cigarette tobacco, like vaping on a pouch full of Drum or perhaps more like a Samson?

“This is similar to what I smoked when I first came to Miami, we traded with the caballeros from Virginia for their tobacco, there may or may not have been some poker involved.” He said with a dirty grin.

Before I uttered a single word, he was pulling out another pair of cold ones, he swapped out the Magma once more, and this time I tasted a milder, dryer tobacco vape, like a Golden Virginia but not quite as wet.

“We used this… to make Cigarillos, which we sold on Calle Ocho, in the Mesones Cubanos, along with Tostones and Lechon, the Snowbirds loved it, especially after a few Mojitos, he, he, he…” chuckled the Cuban.

“Before you go, you simply must try this hard cider it pairs wonderfully with a liquid that I call Eden. When we first arrived in Florida the only job we could get was picking apples… que pena, hermano.” He said with a grimace.

“So naturally, we experimented by casing the tobacco leaves with applejack to make a new tobacco for our new home, I simply turned it into e liquid. So that now everybody… can enjoy the same taste, but without the lungs full of tar.” He continued. “I collected the finest leaves from Cuba, Nicaragua and America, naming all of these e liquids you have enjoyed… El Toro… after… bueno… algo muy personal.”

“Thank you for joining me on my birthday and making an old man very happy.” He said suddenly slapping me on the back and draining the glass of cider.

He gave a resigned smile and a shrug as the noisy arrival of the breakdown truck shattered the most extraordinary vaping session I had ever experienced.

I bade him a blurry farewell as he bundled the half empty bottles of e liquid into my pockets, “Buen viaje hermano” he said.

El Toro e liquids, tremendous tobacco with a capital T, and if… that loquacious old man is to be believed… a truly historic vape.

Avoid rickety rental cars, murderous ‘gators and thirsty Cubans, simply order direct from House of Liquids: http://www.houseofliquid.com/category-s/1840.htm
El Toro starts at 4.95 per 7 ml and they also stock a wide range of other flavours : )

If you or your company have a product or service you would like independently reviewed contact: http://www.thegourmandsguidetogourmet.wordpress.com

Spain’s best kept secret

My trusty old HTC phone died last week, in a work related accident and I found myself avidly scanning the internet for a replacement.

It’s never easy, as there are now so many to choose from, each manufacturer trumpeting about their latest features and proprietary software. The forums are filled with fanboys and fangirls arguing endlessly about the merits of their favourite phone.

I really wanted to get a phone and a tablet but ended up choosing one of Spain’s best kept secrets, in a sort of two for one deal.

Better than 5 J Jamon Iberico http://www.lacasadeljamon.com.es/en/iberian-ham/10-acorn-iberian-ham-5-jotas.html , better even, than a bottle of 1998 Vega Sicilia http://www.ebuywines.com/vega-sicilia-unico-1998.html

The Aquaris E6 made by bq. It looks like the kind of phone Godzilla or King Kong might use, but it is amazing, once you get over the initial size shock.

Bq are a small Spanish company based in Madrid who have taken on Samsung and Apple, they are quietly making great phones and selling them at shockingly reasonable prices. So reasonable you begin to wonder just how much profit other companies actually enjoy?

They make tablets, 3d printers and something that all children (or your inner child) will love, educational robotics. Yes Santa, that’s right… Educational Robotics! http://www.bqreaders.com/es/robotica-educativa.html

While they may not win any awards for aesthetics, they are clever enough to use pure android, so all phones and tablets are refreshingly free of bloatware, skins and those annoying carrier restrictions.

I am unsure as to what score they get on antutu or indeed ice storm for that matter and frankly I couldn’t care less, I have yet to meet anyone who has actually run one of those tests?

With 16 gigs of space and an sd card slot to expand your memory by up to 32 gigs you can fit all your important stuff inside.

With 2 gigs of ram the phone is quick and very responsive and should last for quite some time before being outclassed by newer competitors.

The camera is good too, 13 megapixels… whatever they are, means that you need not worry about taking photos or videos, any time, anywhere.

It has a 4000 mah battery so you can use it all day long without a worry, although you will now be unable to tell your mother, girlfriend, mistress or wife (delete where applicable) that you were out of battery.

My only complaints and they are minor niggles, is that the volume button is a little small on a phone of such size and no earphones are included.

Check out http://www.bqreaders.com/gb/ for Europe’s most reasonably priced smartphones and tablets, you will be very pleasantly surprised.

Viva Espana!

Thenancara – Benedicte: aristocratic French anarchy

Ah… France a country so perfect, a language so beautiful, it is said that God had to invent the French politician to balance things out, but I digress, for today we are here to talk about a French juice. De Gaulle once remarked that governing a country with over 246 varieties of cheese is impossible. Such is the case with reviewing this French juice, as there is enough in this one e liquid to confound or please even the most jaded of vaper’s tongues.

50/50 PG/VG, 6mg/ml, vaped using Japanese cotton at 2.4 ohms in a Magma at 15 watts, costs 25 Euro per flacon (or bottle) and they are currently offering free international shipping. Its packaging is elegant, Rue St Honore elegant.

Benedicte leaves a seductive synthesis of peppered root extract with caramelized fruits on the tongue, actually that’s what they say on their website. I felt it was more, much more or perhaps it’s just the weird melange that underscores the sheer brilliance of this unusual juice.

In short it tastes of ginger (a good ginger like the ginger nut from MrsLords) with anise and perhaps some nutmeg, it’s impossible to be sure what citrus fruits are included but you could happily spend a lifetime trying to identify them. Orange, lemon, grapefruit or perhaps lime, it could even be all of them? But I feel that it is more lemon than anything else, with a pinch of cardamom, giving it a biscuity finish.

Thenancara Benedicte is full of aristocratic French anarchy: You will never taste anything like it. I remain undecided whether I love or hate it, which only makes me want to try the rest of their juices…. http://www.thenancara.com/

Vive Les Vapoteurs!

The Alfaliquids job.

You will have heard the rumours about new e liquids, so good, that they were the sole reason that Busardo had even come to Paris. Under the cover of attending the Vapoteur expo, he had sampled the latest Alfaliquids and some say… he fainted with sheer pleasure.

I too was intrigued, to hear of a liquid so fine, that it had floored Busardo after just one vape. These e liquids could perhaps, even explain, Riptripper’s most eccentric behaviour?

The fact that I had been offered 50,000 Euro to obtain samples of this fabled e juice, in no way, influenced my decision to break into Alfaliquids factory.

It was early September in Paris when I met up with my old friend Jules (an expert in clandestine entry and exit), I explained the rumours of Europe’s finest e liquid over a tank or two and he immediately got busy planning.

On the last weekend of October the weather conditions proved perfect, thunder and lightning raged above our heads as we jimmied open a transformer box and carefully tossed a doubled bagged wasp’s nest inside, to cut the electricity in the entire area.

I had wanted to use the falling tree routine, but Jules swore that the authorities would recognise this old French resistance trick and insisted on wasps… bloody wasps.

Like a fool I listened.

Of course the bags burst, allowing several thousand claustrophobic wasps to subsequently escape, in our general direction.

They were clearly not fans of high voltage, nor fond of high wattage.

It is only thanks to the rain that we survived the ensuing melee, thankfully the painful stinging and resulting swelling was kept to a relative minimum.

Although it’s safe to say, that neither of us will be featuring on the cover of GQ or Men’s Health… in the near future.

On a more positive note, any mug shots or fingerprints would be useless to any police, should we ever be apprehended

After necking a whole bottle of antihistamines and pain killers… each, followed by at least a litre of water, we eventually scaled the fence, narrowly avoided the ravenous dogs, clambered up onto the roof to open a skylight and slip inside.


We entered the mixing facility, only to be confronted by rows and rows of bottles with no paperwork in sight.


We had not thought to research how the tasting notes were stored and we had just knocked out the lights and all the computers.

Merde! is the word used for such problems in France, if I’m not mistaken?

There was only one solution we would have to taste each and every one of the bottles to identify the latest e liquid, stealing just the sample bottles!

I could have wept… but there was no time, so unsheathing our vapes and praying that we did not suffer a case of the dreaded vaper’s tongue, we got busy.

I grabbed the first bottle under torchlight and noted the FR-M designator printed on a blue band. Filling up my trusty magma I vaped furiously, it was a light golden tobacco with hints of fruits of the forest, but subtle, not like your typical supermarket yoghurt.

It was lovely, but nothing new, but I still discreetly pocketed it, for later.

Jules had grabbed a similar bottle with a blue band with FR-4 written on it and filling his big dripper, he puffed madly for a minute.

Finally he leaned back and said “No, it’s a light tobacco drenched in caramel, very nice too, but again… faintly familiar, a variation on an RYU I think, but not one of the new flavours… I’m afraid.”

Yet… I noticed the bottle, still managed to find its way inside his pocket.

I threw another blue banded bottle at Jules, as I rinsed out my magma with water, quickly refilling it with Brown Diamond.

I vaped contentedly, until Jules snapped his fingers impatiently and asked “well?”

“Hmm… it’s a blended tobacco with hints of nutty chocolate or chocolate hazelnuts and perhaps some fainter notes of whiskey, in an elegant cheroot kind of way” said I through the clouds.

“What about you?” I asked, again slipping the bottle in my pocket for later, it was simply too good to leave behind, although it did seem like a coil gunker.

“It’s called Malawia… it’s a darker almost woody tobacco with hints of something else that I cannot quite identify, perhaps vanilla and ginger, verging on good pipe tobacco here, but I need to try more.” said Jules.

“Put it in your pocket, we don’t have time, vape it later”, I replied, busy filling my dripper with something called Saharian. It was good, full flavoured tobacco with a huge dark chocolatey flavour, a smattering of vanilla and some nuts. Again a very more-ish vape, but not quite… what we were looking for.

As it went into my pocket I thought… this could easily become my new adv.

The next bottle had a purple band with Blue Crush printed on it.

It exploded in my mouth… upon vaping.

My tongue wilted under several different sweet mints, a little green fairy over very subtle anise and lime notes…


This had to be new… “I got one, I got one!” I said, in more of a shout than a whisper.

I woke up on the floor with Jules slapping my face.

“Wh…wh…what happened?” I stammered.

“You fainted.” said Jules, still slapping…



“ALRIGHT! You can stop slapping me now!” I barked, getting up slowly.

After a large drink of water, I sealed the bottle into a stamped addressed envelope ready for dispatch to our anonymous paymasters on reddit.

Jules winked and said nothing as he cracked open another bottle, filled his tank and groaned with pleasure.

“What? What is it?” I asked.

Pomme Cannelle (Cinnamon Apple) and it’s good, here… try some” he said handing over his vape.

“Shuddup you fool, here try this Vanilla Custard” I said, throwing a bottle at him.

“Perhaps when you finish your dessert we can get back to work?” I said sarcastically and then goggled in disbelief as he proceeded to vape that too.

“Nope, nothing new… but… soooo good.” He replied.

Resisting the urge to hit him, I ripped another bottle off the shelf and proceeded to vape until my eyes bulged.

Big mistake, it was Reglisse, I tried not to cough, but it was impossible.

Luckily I had already taken the antihistamines… as I suffer from terrible allergies to liquorice.

I fell down heavily on the floor and drank at least a gallon of water before I regained my senses.

Best left to the Vikings, Sami and Suomi, mad for the liquorice, they are, I thought as I rubbed yet another bruise.

I stared stupidly at Jules… as he jumped up and down, blowing sweet smelling clouds of lemons, apples, anise, the green fairy and what may have been kiwi fruit?

I closed my eyes for a second and he must have fainted, as when the clouds cleared, he was lying face down, on the floor. I got up quietly and quickly took my revenge, making sure to slap him right on the wasp stings.

He eventually woke up, when I sloshed some water on his face, he just grinned at me, with a dopey look on his face.

“This is it, another one, this must be new, I have never tried anything like this before, it’s called Green Temptation” croaked Jules.

“Good” I whispered, as he slowly and painfully placed the bottle into a stamped addressed envelope, ready to post away to our nameless clients.

We continued, albeit slowly, as by now, the antihistamines were beginning to kick in and the painkillers were wearing off.

I was unlucky with the Amaretto,but to be fair, it was exactly the same as the famous liqueur, sweet Almonds, so I graciously left it fall into Jule’s pocket.

Then… he finally came across a The Verte that had him swearing for a full 5 minutes.

He loved coffee and swore that tea was for Englishmen without fathers and people of Chinese descent. But this was the kind of stuff served in North Africa, some deliciously fragrant minty herbalness, that got his gander up.

Snickering at his obvious discomfort, I put it in my pocket for later, secretly glad that he had finally vaped something he didn’t like for a change, besides it smelt sensational.

We then hit a full flush of fruitiness:

Mure… (Blackberry) exactly like the fruit.

… tasty but perhaps a tad too much of the peel?

Poire… (Pear) deliciously autumnal.

Then came a most unexpected Candy Cola (think stolen and melted down 100% pure gummy cola bottles, right in your face!).

So although our pockets bulged with some of Europe’s finest e liquid, we were still missing that elusive new flavour.

We took a break and may have fallen asleep for a minute, as we awoke in each others arms with quite a shock and without so much as a word, proceeded to drink another litre of water to clear our palates.

After a bracing Menthe Glaciale (brain freeze alert) and a strong Noisette (hazelnutty but not unduly oily) we hit the jackpot with Dragon Oil.

A very unusual yellow coloured vape, with anise, lemon, menthol notes and what may or may not have been a strawberry milkshake thrown in for good measure. It was unearthly, unlike anything we had ever tasted before. It somehow tasted like someone had hidden a melon in there too?

It took us 10 whole minutes to recover from that surreal French brilliance.

I took this opportunity, to give the groggy Jules one more… good slap!

Only to help him wake up of course… after all it would have been rude not too.

Popping this bottle into the last prepared envelope, we painfully struggled back onto the roof and carefully sealed the skylight behind us.

It was still raining but the dogs were nowhere to be seen so we carefully rescaled the security fence and made our way towards our stolen getaway vehicle.

Only stopping to post the prepared, padded, packages we vaped off into the night towards Switzerland, to collect our wages of sin.

We sampled then swapped some of Europe’s finest e juice’s, stealth vaping for hours, until we finally crossed the border to safety.

The quality of the vaping had been worth every wasp sting, although I have sworn never… to work with Jules… ever… again. As I subsequently had to spend every last Euro of my ill gotten gains, on plastic surgery.

Rating: a late evening with an early Bardot.

Avoid the wasps and brutal burglar’s and contact http://www.alfaliquid.fr

Try some of Europe’s finest e liquids, but… please… do ensure you are sitting comfortably, before even attempting to vape… Alfaliquid.