That is the exact experience I felt getting to know Five Pawns e-liquid. Even my local little tobacco store had a display provided by Five Pawns that looked like a million bucks. And trust me, when you are shopping in a local tobacco shop in middle-of-nowhere, Texas, a professional presentation like the Five Pawns setup is a HUGE juxtaposition next to the store-brand plastic bottles and CE4 crapomizer tasters. And the quality isn't limited to their display. Five Pawns liquids come in 30mL glass bottles with droppers. The bottles are each inside a cardboard tube. Both the bottles and the tubes have matching Five Pawns labels. The overall impression is nothing less than complete sophistication that could fit perfectly onto the tailored leather seat of a new Mercedes Benz.
I tasted all five of their standard current flavors and, almost surprisingly, liked them all. I was less enamored with Gambit than I thought I'd be. My buddy loves that stuff. I felt like Absolute Pin was a bit like a watered-down Radiator Pluid. The overall flavor was less anisy than the Pluid but the end result seems very similar to me. Yet another mix of spices that fall outside of the normal dessert range. That said, I think I'd be more likely to vape the Absolute Pin than I would the Radiator Pluid. It was just far too strong for me.
The flavor that I almost bought was the Queenside. Nice, creamy orange flavor. I could see vaping that regularly. But in the end, I walked out with a bottle of Grandmaster. The Five Pawns folks claim that it is a peanut butter, banana cream, caramel blend. I can taste all of those flavors quite clearly. My immediate inhale is strong on the peanut and caramel. They combine in a super rich way that has a depth to it that occasionally gives me the overall impression of cocoa. There isn't any bitterness to it, but it's not especially sweet either. The balance is just dead on. And I get the banana cream on the exhale where I can taste all three of the primary flavors and don't get that sort of cocoa impression.
I liked the flavor immediately, but knew when I bought it that it was a risk. Liking something as a single taste and liking it enough to vape it for an evening are two entirely different things. I'm now finishing up evening #3 with the Grandmaster and I've gone through about 6 mL of it. The more of it that I vape, the more I find myself shaking my head and saying, "Yeah. That's really good."
One of the things that I like the best about this flavor is how well it compliments coffee. If you are anything like me, you've had a hard time finding vaping flavors that work with your morning coffee. Let me tell ya, Grandmaster is the best I've had to complement coffee. It is a strong enough flavor that it still stands out after a big chug of joe, and the flavor melds nicely.
So. In my estimation, this all comes down to a value proposition question. Is Five Pawns really worth the $26 price tag that I paid. I have read more bellyaching about this in the forums than I'd have ever imagined. People bitching and moaning about what a waste the packaging is, and how it is lipstick on a pig. Blah. Blah. Blah. I disagree. Entirely.
First off, I'd gladly pay for fine packaging. My bottle in it's super cool cardboard tube is sitting on my desk and looks like it belongs there. Secondly, looking at a price per mL, less than $1 per mL isn't all that bad. Sure, you can get a ton of juices online for much much cheaper, but my local brick and mortar store sells their line of juice in crappy little 10mL plastic bottles with handwritten labels for $10. That is more expensive per mL than the Five Pawns and doesn't even begin to compare with a glass bottle and dropper. In my opinion, the Grandmaster Five Pawns is well worth that money. Will I be vaping it all day? No. I DIY my all day vapes. But even the price notwithstanding, I likely wouldn't all day vape a flavor like this anyway. But for a quiet evening on the couch or a late morning cup of Sunday coffee, I think it's fantastic. I'd certainly buy it again.