You’ve seen the empty tab ominously labeled “foundations” on the site, welcome to the first article to fill it out. “Foundations” is going to be where I try to lay out some more general interest topics in mixing.
The first topic is going to be about my experience with Vape Train concentrates. My plan is not to provide a comprehensive review, but discuss some topics related to mixing that I found interesting after trying a whole bunch of Vape Train flavors.
As with every single flavor house out there, this isn’t some kind of iron-clad usage guide. All flavor houses have “good” and “bad” flavors. All flavor houses have some variance in concentrations. This is just a collection of observations about my experience with vape train flavors. I’m a mixer who prefers to work in bright, aggressive flavors and use creamy, tobacco, and bakery notes as background players. Take it with however many pinches of salt you want.
I’m not a chemist, but there seems to be something interesting going on with the base (non-volatile) part of the flavors. They remind me a bit of more old-line “super concentrates.” Part of it is the relative scarcity of traditionally pyrazine heavy bakery and savory flavors, but I feel like the concentrates are fairly forgiving. I haven’t found too many of their flavors that take hard turns at specific percentages, going from “good” to objectively out of balance quickly. Their fruits don’t turn hard floral, their creams don’t turn rancid.
This is a good thing for mixing vapable recipes in general, although it does sort of mess with the value proposition a bit. If I can taste something at 1% but I can taste more of something at 5%, I’m trashy enough that I’ll usually default to more by default. Vaping, for as weird as the medium is, is only partially about building a flavor profile that you can taste. So much of what makes a good vape is down to fullness, saturation, and “mouthfeel” of your recipes. In general, higher concentrations tend to help with that. There are of course limits to overall saturation, but it’s like a bell curve and I have found that the maximum enjoyment of the finished product lies well above the flavoring level where a profile is established.
The way these concentrates react to higher flavoring percentages is tricky in dialing in on that maximum vape pleasure plateau because they do start to bully the other flavors around them. My best advice, and I guess it’s not good advice, when approaching an unknown Vape Train flavor to start somewhere around 3% with the idea that you’ll make a terrible mistake 1 out 10 times. Remember, mix small testers.
Vape Train “Bases”
if a vape train flavor has “base” in the title, buckle up. I haven’t tested every single base they offer, but in general they accentuate specific aspects of a flavor profile and are meant to be used as additives. Their “bubble gum base” doesn’t taste that much like bubble gum on it’s own, but it’s meant to turn other flavors into bubblegum. Same thing with their milkshake base, (bread) pudding base, and all of the other ones I’ve tested. Again, testing is going to be pretty key here. Some of them work really well, some of them are a bit bizarre. If you’re interested in a profile, picking up a corresponding Vape Train base is probably worth it. Buy a small bottle, test it out, and even if it doesn’t end up fitting with your recipe it’s worth it just for the amount of additional critical thinking you’ll have to do about how you want to compose your recipe.
As someone who enjoys cocktail vapes, Vape Train changed the game. I’m still 100% unsure on how they did it, but their alcohol concentrates actually taste like booze. More impressively, they vape like booze. You obviously can’t just add alcohol and expect it to atomize correctly, but they have a nice, sharp boozy bite that really does emulate how alcohol works in a cocktail. It’s uncanny, really. They are completely worth picking up if you’re into realism in your cocktail vapes. They have a few misses (VT Cognac, VT Gold Rum) but their Light Rum, Bourbon, Brandy, and Botanical Gin are super easy to recommend. They don’t have much body to them, but they pair really beautiful with more traditional alcohol concentrates to build full and complete cocktail vapes that will make you want to call your sponsor.
Ultimately, i’m really happy that I got a chance to try these flavors. I’ve found some really interesting stuff, and ultimately that is what excites me. As a degenerate American DIY mixer with easy access to most mainline flavor houses, I tend to evaluate flavor houses on what they do differently than more established players like Capella, TPA, Flavorwest, and FlavourArt.
Could you use exclusively use Vape Train to create good recipes? Absolutely. Most of their fruits have been workable at worst. They have solidly executed creams, and the few bakeries I tried were usable. If you’re looking, instead, for concentrates to add to your arsenal, I’d stay with their boozes and more specialty items, with the exception of some of their fruits that fill pretty sizable holes in the market.
If I were to come up with a more reductive top 10 list, irrespective of profile I’d have something like this:
Once again, huge shoutout to Theo and Vape Train for sending these concentrates to me.