Disclosure: The Badger Hill Reserve eJuice line was sent to me without purchase from Verdict Vapors for the purposes of review. I will endeavor to provide a fair, unbiased, and comprehensive review of the products described below, while also giving my personal thoughts and opinions. All products described in the review below contain nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.
A Vape for Every Taste
When you’ve fallen into the rabbit hole/money pit that is vaping as a hobby, it’s easy to overlook your roots in favor of the hundreds of flavors and fancy hardware that flood the market. But all of us can trace our genealogy back to one thing: the desire to cast cigarettes into the abyss and out of our lives. And I’m willing to bet, the majority of you reading this article started out the same way I did: some awful, low-powered cigalike with either tobacco or menthol-flavored e-juice.
Way back in 2012, I started with a Mistic e-cig (a company that, surprisingly, only shuttered their doors in 2020 due to the looming PMTA deadline). They produced your bog-standard “Metal cigarette” with non-refillable cartridges (though in reality, they were very, very easy to refill), and I used one for a good ten months before I graduated up to an eGo. I didn’t know a damn thing about vaping, and barely anyone else did either. But I did know I wanted to quit smoking before it took my life.
In remembrance of the bad old days, and as a way for me to extend my hand out to fledgling vapers (or those stuck in states with their draconian flavor bans), I’m starting a new series of reviews called The Tobacco Chronicles. In this regular series, I’m going to be showcasing various lines of tobacco-flavored e-juices, running through their various pros and cons, and at the end of each review, choosing my favorite out of the entire line. To start us off, the brand new line of tobacco e-juices from Verdict Vapors, Badger Hill Reserve!
Badger Hill Reserve – The Rundown
It goes without saying that every tobacco eJuice line is going to have at least one Menthol. Menthol cigarette sales comprise about 30% of the total cigarettes purchased in the US alone. So it’s no great leap of logic that Verdict would make a Menthol for their new line of tobacco flavors.
Opening the bottle, you get a sweet scent, and that’s about it. If you didn’t know it was tobacco, you wouldn’t be able to tell from smell alone. Tasting it on the hand is like sucking on a cough drop.
The initial few puffs, once you load it up into your atomizer, are exactly the same. A huge burst of sweet menthol, akin to chewing a piece of mint gum. Once the initial menthol hit tapers off, you get a sweet, mild tobacco flavor underlying the strong, cool mint. I would liken it most to smoking a Kool or a Marlboro Ice, with its strong blast of cold helping to ease the tobacco past your throat. As with all Verdict Vapor eJuices, it uses Sub-Ohm Nic Salts, which diminish throat hit to practically zero.
As a former menthol cigarette smoker, it’s not hard for me to recommend this eJuice. I will say, if you’re not expecting how strong the menthol is, it’ll take your breath away. This is one of the strongest menthol e-juices I’ve ever vaped, bar none. I do have a gripe with it, but I’ll address that down in the conclusion, as it applies to the entire line.
Another one in this line that snuck up on me to become a favorite, Brown Sugar is exactly what it sounds like. Tobacco blended with dark rich brown sugar notes. The sniff test is, like Menthol, not indicative of the flavor. Tasting it on the hand, you get a wonderful molasses flavor with a touch of earthiness, and a subtle bite of nicotine at the back of the throat.
On the vape, the inhale gives you that earthy tobacco flavor right up front with a hint of sweetness. On the exhale, you get just a wash of that rich, complex molasses taste, with the tobacco continuing to contribute to that earthy undertone. There also seems to be a subtle hint of chocolate to the mix. That might just be my taste buds playing tricks on me, though. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of smoking Cavendish tobacco in a pipe, this is what this eJuice most closely resembles.
If you’ve ever had one of those chocolate-covered molasses chews from Russel Stover, then you know exactly what Brown Sugar tastes like. Tobacco flavoring is scarce. There’s enough to know it’s there, but not enough to make a non-tobacco vaper turn their nose up at it. It would make an excellent palate cleanser for someone who’s fatigued from the constant onslaught of fruit-flavored eJuices. Highly recommended.
[Milk & Honey]
The combination of sweet milk and sweeter honey is such a timeless pairing, most of our introductions to it is in religious texts. The phrase is a euphemism for prosperity and abundance and is often used to describe an overflowing of goodness. So when I saw this flavor from the Badger Hill Reserve line was called Milky & Honey, I knew good things were in my immediate future.
Sniff test? Nothing appreciable. Taste test? Creamy honey with an earthy touch of tobacco. No bite of nicotine.
Vaping? On the inhale, you get a bit of sweetness, just like any other eJuice. The inhale is where all the flavor of Milk & Honey is, and it shines. You get the full, golden sweetness of honey, rounded out by the creamy notes of milk, along with a very subtle tobacco flavor. And that seems to be the hallmark of all the flavors in this line. A lot of flavors, with a small tease of tobacco. The honey and milk taper off in the aftertaste, leaving more of the tobacco flavor on your palate.
If I had to compare this eJuice to an analog tobacco product, it most closely resembles a Backwoods Honey cigar. It’s by no means as strong on the tobacco taste, but the flavoring is markedly similar. And those just happened to be my favorite of the Backwoods line when I was a smoker, so I find it delicious. Standing on its own merits, this is probably the best honey-flavored eJuice I’ve had, ever. Tobacco notwithstanding, it really encompasses the flavor of milk and honey in a satisfying way. I recommend it highly.
Make no mistake, there is very little about American Way that is American. No, this is Verdict Vapor’s interpretation of the iconic RY4 eJuice, and while the flavor may have come from American tobacco, this is a Chinese immigrant through and through. Originally produced for the Ruyan company by Dekang, RY4 is a combination of tobacco, vanilla, and caramel. It’s basically the flavor that launched the vaping universe, and every company that produces it puts its own spin on the formula. Verdict is no different, but to make a tobacco line without an RY4 variant would be short-sighted.
Sniff test yields a subtle aroma of tobacco. The taste test is a strong tobacco, earthy, with a hint of sweetness. As usual, the nicotine bite is negligible.
On the inhale, you get a slight hint of sweetness and earthiness. On the exhale, you get a well-rounded tobacco taste, complemented with the sweetness of caramelized sugar and a fleeting hint of vanilla. There’s a mild spicy (but not peppery) note that comes from the Virginia blend tobacco they use for flavoring, but it’s not pronounced. It reminds me vaguely of cinnamon or mace. The aftertaste is all creamy sweetness from the caramel and vanilla.
This eJuice is a very tasty variant of the ubiquitous RY4. Smooth without being strong, sweet without being cloying. You could blindfold someone, have them sample this juice, and there’s a good chance they wouldn’t even know it had tobacco in it. If you’re a former smoker and want to ease your way out of tobacco flavored eJuice, this one is worth looking into.
Classic is the real outlier in this group of eJuices. Verdict’s reasoning behind making this flavor was that transitioning from analog cigarettes to vaping might be difficult for some people. They designed Classic to taste as similar as possible to the real thing. Whether or not that appeals to you is going to be highly dependent on personal preference.
Smelling this one is again, nothing. Tasting it is basically nothing but sweetness. Vaping it? Hoo boy.
On the inhale, you get sweetness, mixed with ash. Yes, Ash. Acrid, charred, burnt tobacco. On the exhale, you get a huge dose of ash, intermingled with the tobacco and subtle sweetness. There’s a hint of pepperiness and a very light touch of cocoa. The aftertaste is, again, ash.
This eJuice. My word. If it wasn’t sweet, it’d be like smoking, all over again. You get that dry mouth sensation, the flavor of burnt tobacco, a bit of herbaceousness. A little chocolate on the tip of your tongue. Far and away, the closest eJuice I’ve ever tasted to an analog. And I kinda hate it. I don’t hate it because it’s bad, but because it hits me in the mouth just like a real cigarette. I haven’t smoked in over a year and a half at this point. I’m past cigarettes. So when this one storms my lungs like one of the old bungers, I can’t say I enjoyed the experience. But if you’re just off the cancer sticks, this one would be a winner.
Once again, I have had certain prejudices of mine shifted by doing this review. I’d come to the conclusion early on that all tobacco e-juices were hot garbage. They either didn’t taste like tobacco or reeked of chemical aftertaste that I just could not abide. Badger Hill Reserve and the folks over at Verdict Vapors have changed my mind.
I spent over a month with these five e-juices, reluctantly sampling them over and over again, until I got past that mental block. Once I finally let go and just let myself enjoy them was when they began to truly shine. I stopped looking at them as “icky tobacco” and instead focused on the positive aspects of each. And I ended up being surprised. And I think you will be too. Give ’em a chance. You might find your own paradigm-shifting.
- Nicely flavored, not too tobacco forward
- Sold in 120ml packs
- Elegant packaging. Reminds me of a leather-bound book
- Virtually zero throat hit
- Sample size bottles are extremely cheap
- All five flavors are sweet. If you’re looking for a dry tobacco eJuice, this isn’t the line for you
- No strong nicotine bite. Some people might not prefer this
- Significant wick ghosting. You’ll still be tasting these eJuices after half a tank and/or a couple of drops of another flavor
- Don’t replicate the taste of a cigarette at all. More akin to sweet cigars/pipe tobacco
- The flavors aren’t very complex. You might suffer from taste fatigue
The Badger Hill Reserve line is produced by Verdict Vapors.
Sizes sold are:
- 2x60ml dual-bottle packs in 0, 3, & 6mg of sub-ohm salt nicotine;
- 15ml bottles in 24mg of salt nicotine;
- and 30ml bottles in 30 & 50mg of salt nicotine.
Having started vaping as a way to stop using cigarettes, Lukas metamorphosed into a regular vape enthusiast over the past seven years. Utilizing his extensive knowledge and problem-solving skills as a regular at his local vape shop, it only made sense to parley that, along with his writing skills, into making vape juice reviews. While conspicuously absent from social media, the 35-year-old former chef now uses his free time by making spectacular home-cooked meals, reading voraciously, and dabbling in multiplayer computer games. Oh yeah, and he vapes too.