Clone Deconstruction - Picking the Flavor Lock

First let me repost a previous thread just to define the concept…

In my journey I have focused on “Pairing” as a way to create building blocks for recipes. I have seen too many times how two flavors can become one. This is important to mixing, but more important to “Picking the Flavor Lock” idea. So you have some commercial juice you want to clone? My first advice is to steer clear of Vendors self-descriptions of how their juice tastes. I think there’s alot of misdirection there… I mean I don’t think they’re trying to list the ingredients, and are usually describing some pairing …that you’ll never figure out, by design.

I have much respect for some of the Commercial e-juice achievements …perfected recipes which often defy cloning. We see them all here under the [REQ] thread. So how can we deconstruct those pairings and get a more detailed glimpse at the underlying flavors. I’m putting this out there because I can’t possibly give all the answers and I think we all have that elusive White Whale which we juuust can’t nail. I think many spend too much time trying to make it work …lets try another angle.

Picking the Flavor Lock is just like picking a real lock …you poke at it. My repost above gives some general ideas and I hope you guys can add much more. I have also fallen on a few myself since that original post. The center of the concept is matching each “pin” one at a time …exposing their hidden identity. What tools to use? You already have them! …maybe even right now. They’re all your little 10ml testers, and of course you can always make a single flavor 10ml pretty quickly.

I use the word “Deconstruction” because the idea is to break the target juice …expose pairings by unpairing them! One of the best lock picks I have found is Sucralose. Obviously something like Ethyl Maltol which is notorious for “muting” would be also a prime candidate to “pick the lock”. The idea that sweeteners have different positive and negative effects on individual flavors. I was tinkering in a Super Strawberry Milkshake (RF) (private) recipe trying to see how many SB flavs I could add and discovered adding Strawberry Shisha (INW) turned the whole mix from a nice sour Strawberry to a tart SB.

If we can grow this idea it will be by sharing those weird flavor effects …what noticeably happened when I added FlavX to a recipe. Each of these can be used to deconstruct a Commercial targeted e-juice recipe. Some other obvious “picks” might be Citric Acid or Sour (TPA) or any of the other non-flavor type adds like Smooth or Magic Mask. Remember we’re trying to break the original juice. When it works the idea is just to get one “pin” (flavor) at a time. So starting with the original e-juice, you poke at it with various single flavors in your RDA and watch for new individual flavs popping their heads up.

As described in my repost you can also add small amounts of flavors you are sure are part of the original. If true, that would only boost that one flavor in the original …right? In my example above if I added Strawberry Shisha to Strawberry JuiceX and my RDA vape-check went from sour to tart I could deduce that was incorrect. It may be true that you could add almost any flavor to a commercial juice and get a result! My hopes are we can grow this list. In an effort to avoid the TL:DR I’ll wrap it up. Let’s break some sh*t!


Oh this definitely deserves a sticky!!
Nice work Bo!
Awesome writeup


Ok I’ll get the ball rolling. I call them Ghost flavors. In a successful pick-proof pairing there’s usually that second or third flavor so slight it’s near impossible to unmask, but without doubt delivers that 5th star rating. My repeated example is Queen’s Cookie Jar (SthrnMixer Original). The Ghost here is Pear (FA) @ 1% which makes the old reliable Strawberry Shisha (INW) turn into a cooked jammy SB.

To develop any kind of picking technique you don’t need to uncover the Ghost flavors first …might be near impossible. To uncover the 4 flavors in Queen’s Cookie Jar you would be waay closer if you had 3. Some ELR research might provide clues to the Ghost flavor once you could determine which strawberry was used.

Now if we only had a list :wink: I’m trying to think of some other Ghost Flavors… Forest Mix (FA) and some more of the new flavors from FlavourArt like Hypnotic Myst or wOw (FA) …single flavors that are hard to describe on their own. So, what other Ghosty Flavs can you think of? These would be easier to pick from a list if we could better define their strength in pairings. Example: Pear (FA) @ 1% makes 2.5% SB Shisha taste like a cooked SB jam. Make yourself a 30ml of @SthrnMixer’s Queen’s Cookie Jar and ask yourself if you could reverse engineer this four flavor recipe. Could you guess that Pear (FA)?

Maybe do some Pick Testing …add multiple levels of Sucralose in some RDA testing and see if you get standalone pear. Oh and be sure enjoy some untainted deliciousness! Same idea… take one of your own recipes and drip in some flavs from your test 10ml arsenal and see what happens


The acids could be just as important as the sweeteners. Citric, Malic, and Tartaric acid are the three I can think of off the top of my head. They each have their own unique properties. I am unsure of tartaric, but I know what citric and malic do. Throwing citric in an orange recipe might help, but it might also mute as it is likely that there is already citric acid as a compound in the flavoring (Unless it is something real/ natural such as Medicine Flower; but even then, we don’t know if the extraction process keeps it in there or not). Adding citric to something that may not naturally have it will sometimes give you a different lean on the flavor that you can’t exactly put your finger on, but you know you like it.

Monk fruit extract may be another key to getting that magic mix, but I have yet to use it myself. On my next order from NN, I will throw some in my cart.

I am with you on not paying too close attention to what vendors describe their liquid as because they could be throwing you off, or simply describing the perceived taste.

I love this thread…



great thread, I think I have to try this with my “WOW it threw me under the bus” current favourite!

I think Dragon fruit is being used as “Ghost” sometimes, at least I have read about it being used as an enhancer instead of being a detectable flavour, and I also currently test it as that to “help” Cherry. Since I am still at the testing I can’t give percentages though.

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No worries about that here, as we’re not trying to make anything …yet. We’re trying to break in :wink: Dragonfruit and strawberry can definitely lift other stronger flavors …another great example and simple recipe is @SunnyT’s (@tbt1271 ?) Strawberry Apple Even with 8% Sweet Strawberry (CAP) just 3% Fuji Apple (FA) dominates (ghosts) the SB. Maybe whip up a batch of this and see what single flavor adds can mute the Fuji and more clearly reveal the SB (CAP)


This is a great thread idea. Ive been looking for a place that has a gathering of flavors that do other things besides just tasting like what they are.
Cactus (Inawera) = makes fruits juicy. But use extremely sparingly, perhaps in the range of 1 drop per 30ml or whatever ymmv

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Ohhhhh… didnt realize this was a 6 month old thread. I hope it can be reanimated and brought to its potential. Unless theres other similar topics? Perhaps i should search better instead of running my yap. :wink:

Edit… i should probably search additives… smh


Your alright, I think this thread just got buried and forgotten.


This is a nice thread, glad you brought it to the top. I missed it when it was active.

I haven’t tried to deconstruct any recipes, but on the subject of ghost notes, I’ve used MF Nectarine and Golden Apple to aid in a Pineapple cake recipe and marveled at what it did to it with just a few drops of each. I can’t pick either of those two out in the finished juice, but it was flat and boring before I added them. And, without seeing the recipe, I doubt anyone could clone it properly without those mystery ingredients. I can’t imagine too many commercial juice makers use those, because they’re expensive and would whack out their bottom line, but im sure there are less expensive counterparts that could definitely make a juice pop, add complexity, and make that lock harder to pick. I’ve seen Apricot used like this, too.


They do, however, use the same concept. A touch of peach added to a orange vape is nice. A slight dash of mango to a banana recipie etc etc.

Just not using mf.


That was my assumption. Thanks for the confirmation! I just used the MF Nectarine in a simple Mandarin Orange Yogurt. .5% made it really tasty, still not getting the Nectarine in the profile, just a much better orange .


Here’s a great read re: pairing which deserves a fresh look as it could apply here. Remember tho we’re not trying to fix recipes we’re poking at pairs. Here are some suggested pairings which could help deciphering a mystery pairing where one flavor dominates/ghosts it’s partner …but wouldn’t be the same without. A great contribution by our very own @Ringling

Another thread about non-flavor adds that could work as “picks” …thanks @Pentine!