Five Pawns’ Taken Three Intro
Five Pawns is an eliquid manufacturer in Southern California that has been for some years the Poster Child for artisan boutique retail eliquids. Historically, Five Pawns markets a limited line of eliquid flavor blends that are unusual, sophisticated, complex, and altogether not your ordinary two- or three-flavor eliquid combos. Fans of Five Pawns eliquids regard them in much the same way that a connoisseur of fine spirits might consider a rare Napoleon Brandy or a bottle of Dom Perignon, as an experience to be savored on special occasions.
Early on in their existence, Five Pawns generated considerable buzz and debate in the vaping community for the high prices of their eliquids. Lovers of Five Pawns assert that the price tag is justified, using the you-get-what-you-pay-for rationale. Critics, of course, don’t buy that argument at all. Viewed from either side of the fence, one thing’s for sure: Five Pawns has a very savvy business model, and they’ve clearly been successful. Every aspect of their products is “high-class,” from the spare-no-expense packaging artistry to the sophistication of the eliquids themselves.
Now Five Pawns has come out with a new trio of eliquids in a limited line they call Taken Three. These new offerings were designed and formulated to keep pace with the evolving needs of the vaping marketplace.
First, they are less expensive. I won’t say “inexpensive,” for their retail prices are still higher-than-average (67¢/ml), but somewhat lower than Five Pawns’ other eliquids by 20-30% (and a whopping 45% less than Five Pawns’ flagship flavor, Castle Long Reserve Edition). Second, they’re simpler recipes in blends formulated for instant flavor recognition and comfort, in effect meant as possible all-day-vapes. Third, their bases are 30PG/70VG, which follows the industry trend to lower, minimize, or even eliminate PG in eliquids.
The three eliquids in the Taken Three line are available only in 30ml glass bottles with dropper caps for $19.99 each, plus shipping. 67¢/ml is far from cheap, except by Five Pawns’ boutique standards.
The Taken Three presentation package included a lab report from Newport Scientific stating that the three eliquids contain no diacetyl. They do, however, contain Acetylpropionyl in amounts that vary from 21-42 ppm.
For the Taken Three review, I taste-tested the liquids using a Council of Vapor RST with its included RDA deck. The build was typical for me — simple dual spaced coils made from 26-gauge stainless steel wire — 0.6 ohms, powered by an iStick Pico at 37 watts. I tried the Taken Three liquids in a Crown tank with a 0.2 ohm head and twice the power (75 watts), but the flavor was better on the lower-power RST set-up, so the individual eliquid comments were based on that. My general experience with Five Pawns liquids is that they shine best at lower power, and that held true for the Taken Three line, even though their base blend uses a higher VG percentage.
Our E-Liquid Review
“Glazed lemon zest sugar cookie“
This has to be one of the most delicious retail eliquids I’ve ever vaped, and friends, I’ve vaped a huge number of retail eliquids. Isolani has the characteristic qualities of Five Pawns’ eliquids — it’s beautifully conceived, amazingly well-blended, with a lip-smacking richness.
Five Pawns’ description is accurate, but it doesn’t convey how complementary and well-blended the component flavors are. Each flavor can be identified — the sugar cookie, the lemon zest, and the sweet glaze — but the overall taste is unified. All harmony, no competition, and wonderful. Bravo.
“Grilled pineapple upside-down cake“
When I opened the bottle of Kibitzer to fill my Council of Vaping RST tank for testing, I was greeted with the wonderful scent of pineapple upside-down cake. Not just pineapple, and not just cake, but an aroma that presented the entire dessert. Wow.
Having never been a fan of actual pineapple upside-down cake, I was shocked at how good this eliquid tastes. The secret is that the pineapple is grilled, making the flavor less tart and more caramelized. I don’t know how Five Pawns achieved that, but it’s brilliant. Another complete winner.
“Banana Boston Cream Pie“
I have vague memories of vaping a Boston Cream Pie eliquid way back in 2011, as well as various DIY attempts of my own after that, but I’m as sure as I can be that neither the retail version nor my own DIY efforts came close to Brevity. Not by a long shot. Imagine that a banana cream pie and a Boston cream pie fell in love, got married, and had a baby. Not just an ordinary baby, but the cutest baby you ever saw. That’s Brevity.
OK, I exaggerate. In fairness, Brevity was my least favorite of the Taken Three trio. But that’s far from a criticism. Brevity is really, really tasty. It’s just that Isolani and Kibitzer are (for me) downright incredible, among the tastiest eliquids I’ve ever vaped, while Brevity is “only” terrific. If the other two are both tens (and they are), then Brevity would earn an eight from me. Two perfect scores out of three ain’t bad, though. If this were a gymnastics competition, the Taken Three team would win the Gold medal in a walk.
I don’t know how Five Pawns achieves such lip-smacking richness in its eliquids. (I hope it’s not just the acetylpropionyl.) They’re amazingly well-blended, and the dessert blends are deliciously sweet without being the least bit cloying or artificial.
To be perfectly honest, I like these new Taken Three offerings even more than I liked their existing line-up (which I reviewed back in January). And that’s saying something, because Five Pawns’ Insignia Series is quite impressive. I guess I lean toward instantly recognizable, comfort flavors rather than the more exotic blends.
I’m a DIY eliquid guy, so I probably won’t buy any of Five Pawns’ Taken Three line. But I guarantee that the 30ml bottles I received for review won’t last long. I’ll vape Isolani and Kibitzer right down to the last golden drop, and Brevity may not be far behind.
If you like dessert-style eliquids and Five Pawns’ prices don’t bug you, by all means try the Taken Three trio. Understand, however, that if you vape these at higher power on a sub-ohm RDA/RTA/clearo tank, you’ll go through a 30ml bottle in no time flat. I’d like to see Five Pawns offer at least this new Taken Three line in larger bottles (120ml) at discounted prices. That hasn’t been their approach historically, but I believe it’s a decision whose time has come.