This is a guest post by Rantz, who writes surrounded by a cloud of vapor.
A good “Clove” is hard to come by.
More accurately, to replicate a traditional “analog” clove cigarette experience, is a difficult task. This is in no small part due to the manufacturers of traditional “Kretek” cigarettes… Djarum, Samporena, and the like… guarding their “Sauce” recipes with a diligence and paranoid fervor only matched by certain cola companies. It’s because the Sauce (and yes, it is actually called that) is the blend of spices and flavorings that the tobacco is steeped in that gives each brand of clove cigarettes their unique aroma, taste, and (to use the wine parlance) “nose”. Avid clove smokers can tell you blindfolded the difference between not only a manufacturer, but also the difference in a particular manufacturer’s “brand”.
I smoked clove cigarettes from the time I was 16 until almost two years ago. That’s almost 30 years of cloves, and as such I’d like to believe I’m fairly well familiar with the differences and subtleties in flavors in the various types of clove cigarettes… not only in their current “cigar” incarnations, but also is the clove cigarettes that filled up my smoky youth. My clove of choice was always Djarum Specials. The sweetness of the “Sauce” combined with the “kick” of the tobacco was, for me, a perfect blend of flavor. As an important note, if you aren’t familiar with the differences in the various brands of Djarums, here’s the top-level analogy: Djarum Blacks are a full-tobacco flavor version of cloves. The “Sauce” is on the lighter side, with the majority of flavor coming from the tobacco and the “clove” flavor resting as a light sidecar. Djarum Specials, by comparison, are much heavier on the Clove and “Sauce” elements… so much so that when you lick your lips afterwards you can still taste the spicy clove flavoring.
When I made the switch to vaping, my logical first choice was to reach for the clove flavor… which I found, to my disappointment, was more like vaping a clove-flavored gumdrop than it was vaping its analog cousin. So, when Vapor4Life asked a few months back “what flavors would you like to see us make?”, my immediate response was “A REAL Clove cigarette flavor”, followed with some notes on what I understood to be some of the elements in the “Sauce” of my brand-of-choice.
Move the clock forward to present time, and Vapor4Life has released “DJ Black”, its offering of a “real clove cigarette” flavor. I’ve spent a few weeks with it, and here’s the verdict: It’s VERY close to the flavor experience of the Djarum Black cigarettes (hence the name, no doubt!). I know that friends of mine who are (or were) Djarum Black fans will be happily surprised with how spot-on Vapor4Life has managed to get the flavor… it’s truly remarkable. The clove flavoring isn’t “one note”… there’s hints of cinnamon, orange peel and vanilla to it, and the tobacco flavor is out front… big and bold.
So then… what do you do if, like me, your preference in cloves leans towards the “Special” blend over the “Black”? After some experimenting I found that mixing the “pure” clove vapor flavor (the “gumdrop” one mentioned before) with the DJ Black flavoring, at a ratio of 3 parts “Clove” + 1 part “DJ Black” is a very close echo of the mix of tobacco, clove, and other mysterious spices that held sway on me for so many years. If you’re a clove smoker, who’s thought about trying out vaping, or you’re a happy vaper who’s lamented the lack of a “real clove” flavor, I highly encourage you to check out the new DJ Black flavor, and experience it for yourself!
Rantz writes, does art, and a variety of other things in any medium he can get his hands on, most frequently digital narratives and comics. If you’re brave (and willing to put up with his profane ramblings) you can follow him on Twitter @RantzHoseley.