Imagine yourself sitting in a lounge chair under an umbrella on a tropical beach, sipping a guava margarita and watching the waves crash while hearing the faint sound of many different kinds of animals talking to each other in the forest behind you. Overhead you can hear birds calling before they swoop into the ocean to find a snack, but your eyes are drawn down by some movement and you see a small crab scuttling across the sand. You take another sip of your refreshingly cold drink then use your straw to crush some of the fruit pieces which releases their flavor and juiciness; stir it around, take another sip, and one more, then set the glass on the table next to you and lean back in satisfaction. The beverage is cold but the day is hot, and even with the direct light being blocked you can feel the warmth of the sun surrounding you - counteracted only by the chilled fruity concoction you just set down.
Now then, when I was first getting started with mixing (roughly 2 months ago) I kept seeing people say that "less is more", and to me this recipe is the embodiment of that. It's not only the lowest number of flavors I've ever used in a recipe but also the lowest percentage - using only two flavors at 5% total. To be brutally honest, I thought it would suck before I ever mixed it but after seeing the good ratings and reviews, and realizing that I only needed the INW Cactus, I decided that I should just go for it - and god damn am I glad that I did. This is now my ADV and has been for at least the past three weeks or so and I'm finding it hard to enjoy many of the other recipes I've made since then when I compare them to this.
I've only mixed it at 70/30 (but I think I'll try 65/35 at some point) and I use 3mg nicotine; also I mixed most of my batches as the recipe lists but I also did a couple with 0.1 - 0.25% sweetener for my partner and I don't feel like it takes away from the overall flavor profile at all so if you like extra sweetness don't be afraid to add a small amount - but personally I feel like the natural sweetness of the mix is perfect so I recommend trying it as-is first. I've been almost exclusively vaping this as a SNV, mostly because I can't let it sit for more than a few days without vaping all of it, but I do have a bit left in one bottle I mixed up about three weeks ago and I can't really tell much of a difference between that and when it's fresh off the scale - though I haven't done enough taste testing and side by side comparison to make a good judgement on how well it steeps (mostly because of how delicious it already is as a SNV).
I've vaped this on many different devices (Rofvape Witcher, iStick Pico 21700, Pico Squeeze 2, and Innokin Proton) using a variety of different atomizers (Witcher Tank, OG Aspire Cleito, Pharaoh RTA, Wasp Nano, and most recently Freemax Mesh Pro) and it tastes great, but slightly different, on each one. I'll be ignoring most of the combos because I'm not happy with them overall when compared to the others so for this review I'll focus on the Innokin Proton with the Freemax Mesh Pro and the Pico Squeeze 2 with the Wasp Nano since those are now my main devices and where the flavor really comes through. But don't get me wrong, it still tastes amazing with the other gear - just muted due to the Witcher and Cleito being sub-par tanks in comparison, and I don't feel like I've gotten the build correct yet on my Pharaoh to accurately use it to judge the taste.
With the Proton/Mesh Pro (double mesh coil, running at 75W) I get a strong burst of guava on the inhale and a nice mix of guava plus something that almost tastes like nectarine (or some other tropical fruit I can't quite place) on the exhale; I really enjoy the complexity of the flavor and how much it differs between the inhale and exhale with this setup. For the Squeeze/Wasp my go-to build is 24g SS316L wire with 5 wraps in parallel at 3mm diameter (ohms out at about 0.16) wicked with Cotton Bacon Prime and running between 50 - 65W depending how I'm feeling; with this setup the taste is surprisingly different and really where the recipe shines brightest for me. I get a good amount of guava on the inhale but what is really surprising is the insane juiciness that comes along with that, almost to the point of feeling like I just drank some of the liquid instead of vaping it - so much so that when I was first using it I went to wipe my lips off after hitting it because I thought I was getting juice in my mouth (spoiler alert: I wasn't, it's just that juicy). I don't know how to accurately describe the inhale for this setup because it's so rich and complex (yet simple) but also incredibly satisfying, and the best analogy I have is my description of sipping the fruity drink while relaxing on a beach as I laid out in the first paragraph of this review. The exhale gives me a similar taste as it does using the Proton/Mesh Pro but just more juicy (and with more of the guava coming through than using the Mesh Pro), plus it still has that other fruity flavor that I just can't quite put my finger on and I love it.
As I said before, this recipe is the embodiment of "less is more" to me. I've started experimenting with using this juice as a base for my own creations (which has worked out better than any of my previous iterations of my recipes; I've got one which I feel is very close but not quite there yet), and I even tried mixing this juice with a failed recipe of my own which just about blew my socks off when I first tried it. See, I've been trying to make a sweet, juicy, delicious mango recipe for some time now and one of my recent batches I was somewhat happy with but decided that it needed a bit of sweetener so I pulled out the CAP Super Sweet and went to add a few drops but squeezed the bottle too hard which caused a shit ton to squirt out and brought it up to roughly 2% instead of the 0.2% I was going for. I thought to myself, "hey, this might be a bit sweet but it'll probably be okay" and boy was I wrong. That was my first experience with over-sweetening juice and holy shit was it awful; I'm sure most of you have had similar experiences as well if you've ever messed around with sweetener. Well let's just say that I learned my lesson with that one and I set the juice aside in hopes that my partner would vape it because she loves sweetness but it was even too sweet for her. I'm glad I didn't dump it out though because one night I had a crazy idea and decided to see if I could salvage it by combining it in small amounts with the Prickly Victory and I was floored at the result. It was still sweet but not the sickly sweet as it originally was, and the Prickly Victory brought out the juicy mango flavor I was going for in spades. I suppose that earlier in this review when I said that this recipe (Prickly Victory) was my ADV that was sort of a lie because over the past week I've been adding one dropper full of my failed experiment to my squonk bottle and filling the rest up with Prickly Victory which has given me a very delicious fruity mango guava mix.
Overall this recipe has been a real eye-opener for me on how to mix; also I had never tried INW Cactus before this and every recipe I've made since trying it has had it because I love fruity flavors, and the cactus is what really brings out that juiciness and seems to boost the fruitiness by quite a bit as well. As mentioned multiple times before it has also caused me to reevaluate the total percentage of flavors in my mixes and taking to heart the "less is more" motto; none of my mixes since trying this juice have gone over 8% total flavor where before I was mixing as high as 15%. As a new mixer I know I have a lot to learn but I feel like trying this recipe has been an integral part to my growth and development in DIY e-juice mixing and for that I am incredibly thankful.
If you already have CAP Sweet Guava and INW Cactus and like fruity recipes you are doing yourself a grave disservice by not mixing this up immediately, and if you don't have them but do like fruit mixes I can't recommend enough that you include those flavors in your next order. At the very least, get some INW Cactus and try adding 0.25 - 1% of it in your next fruit recipe - I can almost guarantee that you will love it. Thanks for reading!