Why Get Castle To Review It?



You may have noticed that one of my favorite types of article for this site is the product review. I love to do them; every new product I review is an adventure. It also makes me feel good to read comments from people who have tried something I’ve recommended, or tried a different product from a recommended vendor, and were happy to have discovered something new.

It also keeps me on the leading edge of those same discoveries myself.

So when a new product arrives, it’s like Christmas, every time. That’s what’s in it for me: but what’s in it for the vendors who send stuff to be reviewed? Well, there are a few things:

First, everybody likes exposure for their products — the more, the better. And while I may not be a Phil Busardo or a GrimmGreen or a Spinfuel eMagazine all by myself, I’ve learned from the first two fellas and worked for the publication aforenamed. I’m also the author of a book on the subject, so I like to think I know a little something about how reviews should be done, and know how to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

Second, being just a one man outfit, I have the time and the inclination to really huddle with my readers, via the comments, or email, or hell, give me a phone call and chat me up. Being just one guy, with just one guy’s obligations, I can do that.

Finally, with hundreds of followers (many of whom have their own followers, and so on) across multiple social-media platforms, (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn, and a plethora of industry-centric fora, just to name a few) I have the skill and the time to make sure that my review of your product is seen across the web.

But how do I review each type of product? Let’s get down to brass tacks on that.


When it comes to eliquids, these are the metrics I use to evaluate the quality and make a recommendation to my readers either for, or against, purchasing your product:


Presentation: Presentation is an important part of the overall user experience when it comes to your hardware, eliquid, or non-vaping product. But when it comes to eliquid, it’s a vital part of the experience.

The care you put into your eliquid’s quality, blending, flavor fidelity, and most importantly user safety is immediately evident in the care you put into those same qualities when it comes to presentation and packaging.

When I see a glass bottle with a high quality, child-resistant pipette cap, one that comes with a shrink-wrapped collar sealing that cap, and sporting a label with thorough ingredient information, nicotine strength, PG/VG ratio, and a “best by” date, all delivered in clearly readable text, I know that I’m dealing with a vendor who knows his or her business and cares strongly about consumer safety.

When that label is also presented artistically, while satisfying the more immediately important consumer safety concerns, I know that I’m dealing with a vendor who has really dedicated himself or herself to the art, and goes the extra mile to make that product the very best it can be.

Appearance: This has to do, specifically, with the appearance of the liquid itself. I evaluate the appearance of a liquid on a few different factors. Is the hue dark enough that I can fill a clearomizer or tank with it easily, without worrying about losing the line and overfilling? It’s not a deal-breaker if it isn’t — it’s just something to tell my readers to be careful of.

I do what I call the “look through” test, to answer this question: Is the liquid pure, or is there cloudiness or bits of… stuff… floating in it?

I do a “rotation” test” to answer this question: Is the liquid thin or thick? Does it match, at least roughly, what the indicated PG/VG suggests?

Nose: The nose, usually, will hint at the flavor I can expect from the vape. For example, I’ve had a few liquids from a specific vendor which were synthetic tobacco profiles — and each one of them, for over a month, carried the distinct scent of pine needles. They weren’t ready. It’s taken almost until the expiration of their “best by” dates for that scent to drop away, and now they are glorious tobacco vapes. Before that, though, I could not, and would not, have recommended them. Nose is important.

Vapor: There’s more to this attribute than just the question of chasing clouds. That being said, I do address that, because I know some of my readers are of the cloud chasing persuasion. I myself like a nice, thick fog bank. But for the casual vaper, this attribute is important in one crucial respect: How much of a scent will my cloud put in the room? I address that by describing the “flavor carriage” of the vapor, and suggesting how much caution a vaper should exercise when vaping any given liquid in the company of non-smokers/non-vapers.

Throat Hit: This attribute is, to me, secondary only to flavor when it comes to my overall satisfaction with any given eliquid. But beyond the simple and immediate question of the throat hit’s presence or absence, there are other factors, too:

Does the throat hit irritate? This is, for me, largely a function of the PG/VG ratio. I find, increasingly, that liquids with too high a PG ratio, beyond a certain nicotine strength, just don’t work for me as I transition from clearomizers and cartomizers to rebuildables. So, for me — and, I suspect, for many vapers — there is a very fine line between a throat hit that is powerful and one that is harsh.

Flavor: Finally, we arrive at one of the last attributes of any eliquid I evaluate, and the last of the attributes intrinsic to the product itself. When I evaluate the flavor of an eliquid, I’m not just talking about “does it taste good?” I’m also evaluating the individual factors that constitute the answer to that basic question.

First and foremost is flavor presence. A vape can be absolutely, stunningly delicious — but if the flavor is “barely there”, that doesn’t mean much.

Second is flavor fidelity. Basically, “Does this ‘peanut butter’ taste like peanut butter’? It can still be a delicious liquid, but if it doesn’t taste like what it’s supposed to taste like, yes, that is going to cost some brownie points.

Finally, one attribute I’ll be addressing, going forward, is “burnout.” There’s a thing vapers know about, and I’ve heard this phenomenon referred to a few different ways, but one of the most common monikers it’s picked up is, “vaper’s tongue.”

What’s “vaper’s tongue”? Simply this: With certain flavors, after you’ve vaped it for a while, the vividness of the flavor decreases. When that happens, satisfaction decreases. It’s simply that your tongue gets “numbed” to the flavor after a certain duration of continuous exposure to it.

Some liquids don’t trigger this phenomenon. Some do. And, for the most part, it really has little or nothing to do with the quality of the liquid in question — it’s just one of those incidental things I think readers would like to be on the lookout for.

Finally, there is the question of Price: Is the liquid worth what you’re being asked to pay for it? There are some incredibly expensive liquids on the market, from vendors such as Five Pawns and Lazarus Vintage — there are, conversely, some unbelievably inexpensive liquids to be had, as well. But, just as the premium brands I mentioned are worth every penny, other brands are of such low quality that the low price is no comfort. You might say a kind word is too much to pay for ‘em.


Do I have evaluation metrics for hardware, too? You bet I do. Here they are:

Presentation: This is similar in function to the same metric when used for evaluating eliquid. Generally, I can determine pretty quickly how much care went into the design and construction of a piece of kit from a good examination of the packaging it arrives in. There’s a solid difference between the plain white box holding a $10 knockoff mech mod and the gun-case-like presentation box that delivers an Innokin iTaste 134, for example.

Specs and Features: When it comes to Advanced Personal Vaporizers, it’s not just the number of bells and whistles built into them that wins the race — it’s the quality of the execution of those features that matters.

Aesthetics and Ergonomics: How good does the device look? At least as importantly, how good does it feel in the hand?

Fit, Finish and Build Quality: While these attributes certainly have some superficial bearing on Aesthetics and Ergonomics, they are important in their own right, because they play into questions of the durability and longevity of the device in question. A device with shoddy build quality is not only not going to look good, it may not last very long, either — and could even be potentially unsafe to use — and that would make it a very, very unwise investment.

And once again, there is the last attribute — Price: As with eliquid, there are some very expensive pieces of gear out there, just as there are some very budget-friendly pieces. The sweet spot isn’t necessarily on a light bottom line, but in good value for your money.


But vaping products aren’t the only products I review. I also review software — in particular, writing software like Scrivener and information shaping software like Evernote.

Moreover, I also review books, as I did with my recent review of the spectacularly chilling horror anthology from Jeffery X. Martin, “Short Stories About You.”

Frankly, there are very few products I won’t review — provided that I can review them, within the constraints of the law and biology. (Don’t ask me to review your feminine sanitary napkins made out of heroin, basically. Can’t do it. Won’t do it.)

So how do you get your product reviewed? That part’s easy.


Just contact me:


John Castle




We’ll work it out from there.

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