Pete: I was the same way when I tried the e-cigs a couple of years ago. I wrote 'em off because there just wasn't enough "smoke" and not enough throat and lung hit. I was really surprised at the changes/improvements in these latest models. Still ain't the same, but I was shocked at how quickly it replaced Marlboros in both physical habit (the "ritual & fetish" side of it as well as the nicotine cravings) and also in the psychological habit/reptilian part of my soul that rises up and demands to be fed (massive quantities at that) things like nicotine, caffiene, speed, and blow (and boardgames I think... ;)). I really wasn't motivated at all to quit, so it wasn't a conscious decision and effort on my part. I just kind of worked it into my routine and found the Marlboros being pushed out. In an interview, Lou Reed talked about how hard it was to quit smoking because [paraphrasing from memory here] "smokes always there in times of need, bad days, when you need to think, whatever. You can't name a single person in your life who can do say that. In reality, cigarettes are your actual best friend." I completely understood that take on things because, as far as my experiences go, it's fucking true. So, I gotta say, that it scratched that particular itch so quickly and completely was kind of a stunning thing for me.
Hexy: I've burned through about 2.5 dozen different juices from 6 vendors thus far. I've joked with my wife that it's cost me about 4x as much as smoking (since cigs are ~$4.15/pack here in VA) but I've been on the hunt for the "right" mix. And, yea, I'm a staunch 24 mg nicotine & 80/20 PG:VG guy. (I like the higher PG content for the hit in the throat and relative ease in drip-filling carts, but you're right that high VG is a better cloud). At one level, it's kind of pushed my "research junkie" and "collector" buttons. I promptly started looking at alternate battery types and vaporizer mfgs as well as all the accessories out there and dove in head-first. The other bit, though, is what you describe about a newfound love of variety. Of the billion tobacco brands available, I smoked Camel filterless, Camel regulars, Marlboro Reds, and Drum and Samson blonde rolling tobaccos basically exclusively for 25 years.
Now, though, it's "what do I feel like right now?" A "smoke"? Tobacco "juice" it is. A "breath mint" after lunch? Something in the fruit or mint vein. Howsabout "dessert"? Got a million pretty good choices. Before heading out the door, I fill 5 carts with different flavors and pack them with 2 spare batteries in a charging case the size of my ipod (though 2.5x as thick). Now I have a mix of "light" tastes for the office or just a little blast but still have that harsh "I'm having a damned smoke right now to sooth my jangled nerves" during the commute (undoubtedly as I'm screaming "NEXT TIME SPEND THE EXTRA $1,000 ON THE OPTIONAL SET OF BALLS YOU FUCKING PUSSY" at the the guy doing 30-fucking-mph in the left lane in his $80,000+ AMG-tuned Merc; or, to make my french-speaking wife laugh, "VERT MEANS VITE!" at the chick yapping on her cellphone instead of putting the car in gear when the stoplight changes...)
As for juices:
Halo (also the mfg of my 808-style, called the G6): Halo's juices across the board, including their pre-filled carts, are fucking great. For the tobacco blends, their 24mg Tribeca *is* a Nat Sherman. Considering that Nats are about $8/pack, it's nice to capture the flavor without the cost or health baggage.(Plus, the glass bottle with glass dropper is kind of handy to repurpose when I go through the juice ;)) They also do a "Belgian Cocoa" that is pretty fantastic because it's not a sweet *chocolate* flavor. It's really got that dry cocoa quality with a fantastic hit in the throat and lungs but finishes smooth. Their "Malibu" is sort of a menthol/coconut thing that has a really clean "icy" finish without being cloying. I recommend *all* their juices. All US-made (which, for the casual reader, tends to mean "not potentially a mix of formica and dog piss produced in some shack in Shinjing Province")
Vaporkings: Their tobacco blends are on the rough side even though they're pretty accurate replicas of their "analog" counterparts. Their orange is *awful*. I made the mistake of filling a tank with that shit first and am now just mixing *anything* over the top to kill off the flavor. However, their 24mg Double Minty Gum is the best mint/menthol of the lot. It's got that menthol "frost" but it's got a potent true spearmint flavor that stands up to the most aggressive "hotboxing" I've tried. You can puff non-stop and it's still solid even if I've smoked the cartomizer to the point it's too hot to hold! [I hated menthol cigarettes, so I wasn't sure I'd dig this stuff, but I do]. They do a "peanut butter" that, at 24 mg, has no resemblance to peanut butter at all. It's more of a "roasted peanut" flavor. I find it really nice, but some would think it's probably burned. Their Green Apple is a really good, clean flavor too, but it doesn't hold up to a constant puffing. Their vanilla is one of the better at high nic levels too.
Vaporgods: Their DK Tobacco is in the "RY4" vein and it's brilliant. It's got a Cavendish (pipe) tobacco undertone with vanilla, walnut/almond, and a bit of "sweet" on top. Moderate cloud but good throat hit at 80% PG. I also really like their Bourbon Vanilla. Instead of being a "vanilla bean" flavor, it's more of an "oak barrel" kind of thing--a little sweet, definite vanilla quality but a pretty solid "bite" to it.
Ovale: This is an Italian import juice allegedly lab-tested. Like all the Euro-juices I've seen, it maxes out at 16 mg, which is a bit on the light side, and it's pricey at $20/20ml. Only tried their Strawberry, but it's "holy shit" good. Light and very flavorful. My only gripe, besides the price, is that it's extremely thin, which leads to some excess wastage when trying to fill blank carts. I've cut down on that by buying those blunt-tipped medical needles to fill but it's still a bit of a drag.
Based on your comment above and some rave reviews I saw, I actually just ordered some Virgin Vapor Kona Velvet and KV Caramel Milkshake juices. I'll probably order a couple of LR E-GO "clearomizers" for those if they're really thick. Shouldn't really use those clearomizers on slims but I discovered they work quite well (with an adapter) on the manual Halo G6 (they don't work at all with automatic batteries it seems but that's fine).
And, yea, I promptly bought a bunch of 1.5 ohm carts for both my 4081s [the only sort of blank cart out there it seems] and for my G6s. Yea, they eat up the battery life, but I really like the vapor production on them. Most of the time I'm vaping away, I'm in front of a computer, so I just keep 2 spare batteries charging away.
Found an 808-type 5v USB passthrough a couple of days ago, so I may just leave one at work and one here at home and vape "plugged in" while I work. I've also looked at some of the more heavy-duty adjustable-voltage systems, as a really heavy vapor cloud is really appealing. Unfortunately though, I gotta say, the couple I've looked at so far were so thick, it *really* looked like you would be sitting there with a chrome push-button dildo in your mouth. I just couldn't see getting away with sitting at my desk with William S. Burroughs' "Steely Dan" hanging off my lower lip ;)
I've also looked at some of the more heavy-duty adjustable-voltage systems, as a really heavy vapor cloud is really appealing. Unfortunately though, I gotta say, the couple I've looked at so far were so thick, it *really* looked like you would be sitting there with a chrome push-button dildo in your mouth. I just couldn't see getting away with sitting at my desk with William S. Burroughs' "Steely Dan" hanging off my lower lip ;)
Lips on a Steely Dan is THE pleasurable way to relax in rush hour traffic. Or so I've heard. Hey man they make a PV that looks like a .50 cal round. Slam that on the table while wargaming. You should get one and fire it up at WBC. Kidding, but that would be funny though.
Sounds like you've tried a lot more juice than I have. I'm jealous. Finding good liquid is a pain, I've had more bad ones than good. To make things more irritating is one of my 'starter' juice brands made me itch all over, especially the face. So weeding out which brand that was a major pain in the ass (Juicy Vapor). I thought it was a PG allergy but I have other juices with a blend so... It's something in their juice, whether it's in the nic base or the flavorings I don't know. So since that happened I've tended to stick with vendors I know are itch-free.
As far as flavors go? I've had some I fell in love with immediately and down the road thought tasted gross. Some are just gross out of the bag and a waste of cash but whatcha gonna do? Plus there are so many fucking vendors right now, complete with websites that look like they were designed in 1995 (that doesn't inspire confidence), all of which are mom & pop home brewers... It's kind of a p.i.t.a.
Boba's Bounty is super good. I didnt' like it at first but it really grew on me. I can't really describe the taste... This english guy described it as tasting like a combo of beer and digestive biscuits. I had no idea what the fuck that meant. Didn't sound very appetizing but it's just tea cookies. I don't know how accurate it is but it's my 'all day vape'.
Gorilla Juice is good, basically Boba's with a bananna layer.
Strawberry cooler is also decent. Kinda tart and light.
American eLiquid Store - Tobacco
You know you've been in a situation where you stayed at someone's house and you woke up and ran out of cigs and are digging around in the ashtray or trash like a desperate junkie. So you find that stale ass old half butt that laid in some spilled beer and smoked it. That's what it tastes like. Slightly cigar-ish too. I haven't found a juice that has a big of a nic hit from anybody else though.
These guys are reasonably priced and always give you a free sample. You can request what flavor. They'll mix a higher ratio of nic than listed if you want. These guys aren't bad at all, just not fantastic. I really like the Raspberry Shortbread Cookie. My main complaint is I think some of their stuff tastes a little same-y. They also don't list the PG/VG ratio but I'm guessing it's 60/40. Cartomizer friendly.
I got their RY4 and fell in love with it so I ordered a big bottle. Wow, now I just hate it. I'm keeping it for emergencies, that's it. This is the only Ruyuan4 I've tried so I have nothing to compare it to unfortunately. Maybe it'll bounce back. Wait, I did get RY4 once before and it tasted just like cat piss. To be fair, AltCig's was waaaay better.
Yeah, the ECO Kona V. Milkshake is smooth and rich. This is my newest flavor and I was a good boy and let it steep a whole month. It doesn't say milkshake to me though but I really dig it. I totally am a cheap ass so I don't get off on paying $1/ml but I am ordering some more next month. I like the fact that it's (supposedly) all organic though. Nice bottle, too!
Unfortunately, the Caramel one isn't as delicious. Maybe I got a bad batch but I don't taste any caramel at all. Which isn't to say it's bad at all, but I think it pales in comparison.
I liked the Caramel Macchiato and Butter Rum. Too bad I'm allergic to this :p
I've been meaning to try Halo Tribeca so thanks for the recs. There's a lot of stuff I want to try out. I read good things about Copper Creek House Blend and Bounty Hunter.
Hey, you mentioned clearomizers, are you talking about those tank looking things with the really long wicks? I've been wondering about those.