Review: Trabuco Vapor Company
It has been my pleasure to review one of Trabuco Vapor Company’s eliquid offerings before. I introduced you to them through their flavor, “Capistrano”; if you haven’t yet read that review, I highly recommend it as a good place to start, though it’s not strictly necessary for full enjoyment of this review.
It’s usually my policy, when reviewing an entire lineup of liquids, to lay out characteristics that all of the flavors have in common, rather than repeat myself when it comes to each liquid; that’s the case with this review, as well. So the vapor production and flavor carriage receive a single entry, as do throat hit and coil wear characteristics.
Let’s move on, and I’ll let you know what I tested these flavors on!
These three liquids were tested in the HCigar Trident V2 clone rebuildable dripping atomizer sporting a 0.43 ohm 24 gauge single coil wicked with hemp. That device was powered by a Sony VTC4 30 amp 18650 battery in a Nemesis clone mechanical mod. For reasons which I will go into shortly, each of these three liquids was vaped with the airflow on the dripping atomizer set at its smallest airflow port.
Presentation and Common Characteristics
These liquids have the following characteristics in common: each liquid bears a 6mg nicotine strength, as well as a 100% VG consistency. Additionally, all three of these liquids is what is known as a “NET” — meaning that the tobacco flavors in each liquid are naturally extracted from real tobacco, not a synthetic tobacco base flavoring.
They also share the same presentation, aside from the different name for each liquid on its respective label. Each liquid arrives in a clear glass bottle bearing a predominantly black label. Of note: unlike the cap I described in my review of Capistrano, the caps on these three liquids are not wax-sealed cork. Rather, while they are still wax sealed, the caps of Blackstar, Portola, and Silverado appear to be either aluminum or plastic under the wax seal, and are now twist-top rather than press-in. On a closely-related note: Still no pipettes built into the caps or included in the packaging.
To address what I wrote back in the Testing Notes section: the reason for the airflow being dialed down to minimum with these liquids is that NET liquids tend, by their nature, to have a more subtle flavor profile than synthetics. When we then factor in the 100% VG composition, flavor becomes incredibly subtle — almost to the point of near-absence — at 3.7 volts.
To counteract this tendency, airflow has been restricted, thus containing and thereby amplifying the flavor and throat hit characteristics of the vapor.
One thing all three of these liquids have in common is vapor production. Even on an unregulated 3.7 volts, visual vapor production from all of Trabuco Vapor Company’s offerings is simply stunning. You get big, big clouds even on an unregulated setup, provided the two following factors are in play:
First, you are dripping this liquid on a sub-ohm coil in a rebuildable dripping atomizer. Second, you have adequate airflow. On my Trident, if I set the airflow control to allow for maximum single-coil airflow, I get huge clouds from each and every one of these liquids.
However, I personally favor flavor and throat hit over visual vapor production. For that reason, my airflow with Trabuco Vapor Company’s offerings tends toward more restricted airflow.
A final note on the vapor of these liquids: It is astonishingly powerful in the flavor carriage department. Also, as was the case with Capistrano, each and every one of these three uses naturally extracted tobaccos for their base flavors, which means that the scent left in the air during and for at least a few minutes after you enjoy a vape is going to be easily identifiable as a tobacco scent. Vape these courteously and with discretion in places where you can expect to encounter nonsmokers.
The second common characteristic all of these liquids share is that of throat hit. Now, I’ve watched a few reviews of these liquids on Youtube, and those reviewers have, almost to a one, maintained that these flavors have little or no throat hit.
In my opinion, that’s just not so. Reiterating, of course, my earlier disclaimer — all tastes in vapes are subjective — it’s my opinion that while Trabuco Vapor Company’s lineup offers a very smooth throat hit, due principally to its 100% VG composition and in 6mg nicotine strength, it is also a very definite throat hit, at least as produced on a <5 ohm coil with a properly selected degree of air flow.
Let me make note of something that will seem, just for a moment, to be a little off topic: I would not recommend these liquids for users of the combination of eGo battery + clearomizer for their vaping hardware.
There are a couple reasons for that; the first reason is that as these liquids derive their base flavor from naturally extracted tobaccos, that combination of hardware isn’t best equipped to really unlock the potential of these liquids. They’ll certainly be vapeable, and you might even enjoy them — but the fact is that NET-based flavors really do benefit from more powerful hardware that can punch an atomizer up to extremely high heat, extremely quickly.
The second reason follows from the first — 100% VG based eliquids run on the combination of 3.7 volts and a very, very delicate coil over 1 ohm in resistance, as nearly all clearomizer coils are, will significantly decrease the useable span of such a coil between cleanings, meaning that — in my estimation, at least — it will also significantly reduce the overall lifespan of the coil, period.
I come by my estimation through some first-hand experience with my own handmade coils on my rebuildable dripping atomizer — after approximately three days of use, my coils show accelerated accumulation of VG residue. My prediction is that, on a device outputting 20 watts or higher, this would not be a significant issue, although I have to admit that I’m unable to test that prediction at this time.
Trabuco Vapor Company Says
A savory sweet extract of uncut Flue-cured Virginia tobacco with a sweet honey graham cracker finish.
Blackstar is a deep, dark brown in the bottle. While I recommend rebuildable tank atomizers over clearomizers for these liquids, you’ll have no trouble keeping an eye on the fill line in either with these liquids.
The rotational test shows this liquid’s 100% VG composition with absolutely no doubting it — while the horizon line is perfectly even, attesting to purity, the ripple pattern is big and thick. Not only that, but the shake test reveals that this liquid does leave a thin but slowly dissipating film after its passage.
The description of Blackstar didn’t really lead me to what I found on the nose. What I found was an extremely subtle tobacco presence dominated by molasses, rather than graham cracker. I wasn’t terribly dismayed — as I’ve often noted in the past, the nose doesn’t always telegraph the flavor with 100% accuracy. The odds of a deceptive nose actually increase with NET-based eliquids.
The deceptive nose trend certainly holds true with Blackstar. The inhale does display that smooth and subtle tobacco character, with the Virginia representing itself quite mildly beneath a blanket of dark sweetness that I still can’t describe as anything other than brown sugar.
It’s on the exhale that I get the buttery note fusing with that brown sugar to come together as graham cracker, while the dry, crisp Virginia gets its second wind, actually coming through more clearly on the medium finish than at any point before it.
To me, Blackstar is most satisfying when paired with coffee. The crisp tobacco under that blanket of rich sweetness makes it ideal as a mid-morning coffee break companion.
Trabuco Vapor Company Says
A blend of Burley and Virginia tobaccos with a subtle vanilla finish. A true aromatic pipe tobacco flavor.
In the bottle, Portola is a deep rust, lighter in hue than Blackstar if only by a few degrees. The rotational test displays that same even horizon line and big, thick ripple pattern, yet only in the shake test do I see significant post-passage filming.
My best guess at the difference there is down to the difference in the other-than-VG ingredients; Portola employs two natural tobacco extracts as opposed to only one for Blackstar.
The nose of Portola, unlike that of Blackstar, is immediately telling and holds nothing back in the tobacco department. What I get from the nose — and this carries through in the flavor carriage of the vapor, as well — is a dark, earthy tobacco note smoothed out with vanilla.
It’s when we move to the flavor that all that really unfolds, and it does so in a beautiful way. The inhale is a full, rich tobacco, with the dry, earthy coumarin character of the Virginia well balanced and rounded by the deep, robust Burley.
On the exhale, that vanilla comes right up front and center, though what was simple vanilla in the nose comes across in the flavor more like a vanilla custard. It has the slightly savory hint of egg that all custards have in common. The vanilla custard note fades slightly faster than the tobaccos, leaving a perfectly fused long finish.
Of the three liquids under review today, Portola stands out as my personal front runner for an all day vape. It’s a silky smooth tobacco and vanilla fusion that is flavorful without being too rich, satisfying without being overpowering. If you only try one flavor from Trabuco Vapor Company, make it this one.
Trabuco Vapor Company Says
A blend of Flue-cured Virginia & Burley tobaccos extracted with Irish whiskey and topped with hints of wild honey make for a truly excellent and unique Cavendish flavor.
In hue, Silverado comes in at the midway point between the deep molasses of Blackstar and the vivid rust hue of Portola. Its movement is well in keeping with its two siblings: luxuriantly thick.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the description and saw the mention of Irish whisky as the infusion of this naturally extracted Virginia and Burley liquid. What I didn’t expect was that the nose would fulfill that description so perfectly.
The tobaccos are shoulder to shoulder with a vivid whisky character, and that whisky character does indeed give just the faintest hints of peat, as has been my experience with the handful of Irish whiskies I’ve had the pleasure to sample. On the other hand, there is none of the smoky note that would tip the whisky component from Irish to Scotch.
On the flavor front, Silverado delivers the biggest and boldest flavor of all three contenders here — it’s not quite overpoweringly flavorful, but it stops just shy of being that.
On the inhale, I get the Virginia and Burley — and my estimation is that the Burley in this combination takes a much higher priority than it does in Portola. Where they’re about evenly matched in that liquid, this one puts the Burley a full step in front of the Virginia.
What that gives me on the inhale is a very strong pipe tobacco experience. At about midway through the hit, just as the throat hit is coming on, the Irish whisky flavor steps up its game and then comes on strong through the exhale and into the finish, where it mingles freely with that pipe tobacco.
Were it not for the smooth throat hit, this vape would almost be overpoweringly strong. As it is, I definitely do recommend it — but as an evening companion, particularly as a companion when sipping whiskey, or merely when one wishes he or she was sipping whisky but can’t indulge in the more high-octane article.
I’ve had a few NET eliquids, and reviewed them on this site, but I have to say this: I have never before had such fine NET eliquids as Trabuco Vapor Company’s. To me, as of now, Trabuco means Naturally Extracted Tobacco eliquid.
A word on price, specifics, and availability: Trabuco Vapor Company eliquids are available only in 30ml glass bottles, are exclusively formulated with a 100% VG ratio, and come in 3mg, 6mg, 12mg, and 18mg nicotine strengths.
They are available for $25 each, which puts them in the premium tier of eliquids; I stand by my original assessment, from my review of Capistrano, that each one of them is worth every penny of that asking price.