Here’s an interview I conducted with Five Pawns president and founder Rodney Jerabek. I first came across Five Pawns e-liquids at Vaping Ape LA and was immediately impressed. The company makes some really delicious juices that are unusually rich and complex. It was great spending time at Five Pawns HQ and learning more about the company. In the video above, Rodney talks about the company’s origins, what goes into a Five Pawns e-liquid, why the juice costs what it does, the wood-barrel steeped “Reserve” line, and more.
There are a few things that make Five Pawns’ offerings unique. Let’s start with the e-liquids themselves. They’re made with natural ingredients, including some that are sourced locally. Many e-liquids use one, two, or three flavors in addition to the standard ingredients of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerol, and nicotine. Five Pawns juices contain up to 11 ingredients. This makes for some of the most distinct, complex, and flavorful juices I’ve tried.
Most e-liquid vendors have dozens of flavors available and it’s extremely rare for an e-liquid company to do many different types of flavors well. Off the top of my head, the only juice maker that excels in so many different areas is Ahlusion. Jerabek compared Five Pawns’ approach to In-N-Out Burger, a (glorious) fast food chain that offers a simple menu with everything on the menu done really well. To kick things off, he wanted the company to offer five juices that are all done really well.
Similar to fine wines and scotches, Five Pawns e-liquids are made in small batches. Typically, each batch results in 160 30ml bottles of juice. The bottles have the mixing date, lot number, and bottle number printed on them. The juices are pre-steeped so they’re good to go when you buy them in a store or receive them in the mail.
Jerabek’s background is in design, which is obvious from the company’s packaging. Five Pawns e-liquids come in clear glass bottles with some of the best labels I’ve seen. The bottles are placed in handsome cardboard tubes that remind me of liquor or perfume boxes. It makes for a high-end experience, similar to how Apple packaging enhances the experience of a great product.
Some vaping enthusiasts had sticker shock when they saw that Five Pawns’ online prices were $27.50 for a 30ml bottle. Jerabek was very honest about the pricing. First, he noted that he doesn’t want to compete with his retail partners; the prices available on the Five Pawns web site are the same that you’ll find in stores. He’s also positioning Five Pawns as a high-end e-liquid company, which is completely understandable considering the top-notch ingredients and packaging. With all of that in mind, $27.50 is a reasonable price for these great juices. I’ve seen mediocre and less-than-mediocre e-liquids sell for $25 for 30ml at retail — stuff that wasn’t 1/10 as good as Five Pawns juices.
As a Southern California resident, I’m jazzed that Irvine-based Five Pawns is off to a great start. The company makes some fantastic juices and the people I’ve met from there are super-cool. I also love the company’s artisanal approach to making e-liquids. I’m a fan of companies that excel while being different and I believe that Five Pawns fits that description. Stay tuned for a Five Pawns juice review and a video feature on the company’s awesome tasting room.
(Also, please excuse my horrible voice in the video. I’m even more nasally than usual. Ha! I was horribly congested that day. Actually, I still am…. Hmmmm, I need to fix this before E3 2013. Oy.)