Are they worth picking up?
Black Note is the perfect e-liquid brand for tobacco connoisseurs. The whole line-up gives the impression of carefully-crafted, top-end e-liquid, and the flavors are complex, rich and well-balanced across the board.
Even if you don’t usually go for tobacco e-liquids, the options from Black Note still have the power to impress. The replications capture the essence of the genuine article, but the mixers have the finesse to turn it into something beautiful to vape.
The only major criticism is the price, but if you want to find the ultimate Naturally Extracted Tobacco (NET) vapor liquid, it’s hard to think of anywhere better to look.
The harsh truth is that most tobacco e-liquids just plain suck. Without the combusted plant matter, the subtleties and complexities of the flavor of tobacco just seem to get lost, with tobacco e-liquids instead coming off like bad caricatures of the genuine article. But new e-liquid mixer Black Note is aiming to change all that with their pioneering approach, putting out a selection of eight high-end tobacco e-liquids that promise authenticity above all else. The goal is to capture the true essence of the flavor of tobacco, and they’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to do just that. For vapers looking for a top-quality tobacco e-liquid or smokers hoping for something reminiscent of real tobacco to switch to, the company might have what it takes to fill the niche.
Black Note’s big selling-point is their natural extraction process, using real tobacco leaves to craft e-liquids with all the depth and complexity of the genuine article – something they argue can’t be accomplished with artificial flavorings. Their cold maceration process is the key to their approach: a six to eight week steeping process where no heat is added, allowing the natural flavors and aroma of the tobacco to fully develop. The lack of heat prevents the resulting e-liquid from being too harsh, bitter or sour, and keeps the throat hit nice and smooth. They’re also pretty picky about the tobacco they choose – only taking the top-quality leaves from plants cultivated by experienced, high-end growers. In short, they’re shooting for quality from start to finish.
For all this quality – each e-liquid is the result of months of nurturing and hand-crafting – you have to pay a little more, though. At $29 for a 30 ml bottle, or $58 for “the Notebook” (eight 7.5 ml bottles), picking up one of the eight tobacco-only e-liquids represents quite the investment – even with the free expedited USPS shipping (delivered in one to three business days) kindly thrown in.
The question is, can they justify the price, and can they convince converted, sweet-loving vapers to test out some unique blends of tobacco e-liquid? We put them to the test to find out in our Black Note e-liquid review.
Black Note Packaging and Design
The immediate thought when you see the design of Black Note’s juices is that the style is very high end. The bottles come in cardboard tubes, with a beige, worn paper coloring and a elegant musical note logo displayed on the front, alongside the company name and a faux-stamp promising patiently crafted, small batch, naturally-extracted tobacco e-liquid. The outer casing also contains a description of the flavor, as well as the PG/VG ratio, chosen nicotine level, batch number (always a good sign) and the standard battery of warnings.
The bottles look much the same, with the same information provided (aside from a short, more abstract flavor description) and an identical visual style. Design-wise, it does a good job: producing an impression of understated class. The bottles themselves have pretty good childproofing as well, more like medicine bottles – the caps require pushing down and turning, otherwise you get that hollow clicking sound and they don’t open. And everything, even the smaller bottles from the Notebook, comes in glass. As a little bonus, you also get a white cardboard box for the 30 ml tubes – nothing special but it makes the whole thing seem more high class and worth the money. Additionally, Black Note's recycling program gives you a free 30 ml bottle of e-liquid for returning five spent tubes.
The e-liquids from Black Note all come in a PG/VG ratio of 50/50 – a pretty standard mixture that gets the job done admirably in terms of throat hit and vapor production. As always, a choice would be a nice extra (especially for the PG-sensitive), but realistically a 50/50 ratio leaves little to complain about for the vast majority of vapers.
For nicotine, there are the standard five levels, 0, 6, 12, 18 and 24 mg/ml (expressed as percentages, 0 %, 0.6 %, 1.2 % and so on), offering plenty of choice for vapers with differing degrees of dependence and making it easy to step down to no-nicotine over time. Since smokers often start out with tobacco e-liquids, the 24 mg/ml (2.4 %) option is an especially useful inclusion for Black Note, offering a little extra nicotine for those who need it.
Black Note E-Juice Flavors
These e-liquids will be reviewed like fine wines in this post, but more in-depth flavor reviews will be posted separately.
Prelude – Rating 4.5/5
Appearance: Yellow to faint orange
Smell: A warm sweetness, slightly earthy.
Taste: A subtle and bright Virginia tobacco, a touch smoky and a little earthy, supported throughout by an undercurrent of sweetness.
Overall: Nice and gentle – a smooth but authentic tobacco with a wide-ranging appeal thanks to the prominent sweetness. There are more robust flavors from Black Note, but if you want something mellower, this is a fantastic option.
Bravura – Rating 4/5
Appearance: Yellow to faint orange – like a pale whisky or some white wines.
Smell: Earthy and a little musty, with a touch of fruitiness.
Taste: Full-bodied perique tobacco, quite earthy but still smooth, with touches of sweetness, as well as fruity and nutty notes coming through on the exhale.
Overall: A complex and well-crafted e-juice, something tobacco connoisseurs would likely fall head over heels for. Perhaps a little too authentic if anything – the earthy and musty elements are notable – but rounded off nicely by the touches of fruit.
Sonata – Rating 4.5/5
Appearance: Yellow to pale orange, a touch lighter than most.
Smell: Very subtle, a little alcohol-y and slightly sweet.
Taste: A complex, rich Cavendish tobacco flavor, with a nutty undercurrent and sweet overtones becoming more prominent towards the end of your draw.
Overall: A delicious e-liquid, with a smoky, realistic tobacco flavor turned into something exceptional by the nutty undertones and the overriding sweetness. Another one with the potential to hook in vapers otherwise uninterested in tobacco flavors.
Solo – Rating 5/5
Appearance: The same yellow/pale orange – possibly a bit darker.
Smell: Powerful, icy mint.
Taste: A strong menthol e-liquid, starting off with some rumblings of Virginia tobacco before the mint gradually builds, becoming a cooling, icy wave of menthol by the exhale.
Overall: A brilliant menthol e-liquid. It’s hard-hitting enough to satiate the palate of ex-menthol smokers without devolving into artificial, overpowering mint. It tastes smooth and natural, but still has a definite icy kick. This is the best menthol e-juice I’ve tried, hands down.
Forte – Rating 3.5/5
Appearance: Similar to the others, but towards the white wine end.
Smell: Faintly sweet and nutty.
Taste: A smooth, warm burley tobacco accompanied by a gentle sweetness throughout your draw. You pick up subtle hints of nuttiness too.
Overall: A well-balanced e-liquid with a mellow tobacco flavor, brought alive by the sweetness and touches of nuttiness. Not the most exciting option, but one that’s hard to dislike.
Adagio – Rating 4/5
Appearance: Yellow to pale orange.
Smell: Sweet, with hints of nuttiness.
Taste: Smoky, with a notable sweetness throughout and a slightly spicy backdrop. A fairly robust Havana tobacco.
Overall: Very easy to vape: a mild tobacco bathed in sweetness that goes down smoothly and easily. Another e-liquid that manages to capture the genuine character of the tobacco while balancing the sweeter elements expertly. One you’ll enjoy even if you don’t usually like tobacco liquids.
Legato – Rating 3.5/5
Appearance: The same yellow-orange hue, a shade darker.
Smell: Earthy and slightly woody.
Taste: A uniquely aromatic Kentucky tobacco, with a sort of woody and smoky flavor, underpinned by nuttiness and some faintly-detectable earthiness.
Overall: A unique e-liquid, with a complex woody aroma softened by nuttiness and warmth towards the end of your draw. Not the best – and likely to not to everyone’s tastes – but a good e-liquid, regardless.
Cadenza – Rating 4/5
Appearance: Similar, but towards the pale end.
Smell: Subtle; a faint sweetness.
Taste: Based on basma tobacco (“the king of tobaccos,” according to some), this e-liquid has an aromatic, sweet and slightly woody flavor, underpinned by smokiness and a hint of spiciness.
Overall: A very unique e-liquid, built on an authentic, smoky tobacco taste balanced with a warm, lightly spicy sweetness. It’s fairly full-bodied, and it might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s a great option if you want to get a little more adventurous in your flavor selection.
Note: Black Note was selected as the number one recommended e-liquid of the year by our editors. See the full list of the best e-liquid vendors.