The blog team (BT): Hi George. Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us. Product Development Associate – that sounds like a pretty big and complicated job! Could you tell us a bit about your role on the Vype team?
George: Well, I’m part of the eLiquid formulation design team, so my job is all about creating the best flavours and liquids for our vapers.
My role has several different parts. Firstly, I look at blending flavours which are already popular to create new and more complex flavours.
I’m also involved in general product development. This involves assessing flavour and the other attributes around vaping – like throat catch – to make sure our eLiquids feel smooth when you vape them. And I also look at our eLiquids from a technical point of view – to tailor them to each of our different devices.
BT: Wow – so you’ve got quite a multifaceted role then. What does an average day look like for you?
George: Generally pretty busy! There are always a lot of samples to be made up – because we test so many versions of every flavour, to try and make the eLiquid formula as good as we can get it. We always have samples going out for new devices or to different testing teams.
BT: What is it that you’re aiming for in an eLiquid?
George: Ideally, we want to have a big cloud and big flavour – and to do that you have to get the right mix of VG and PG(vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol). VG is great for making a big cloud, but it doesn’t carry flavour very well – whereas PG is great for carrying flavours, but can’t make clouds in quite the same way.
We’re always trying to make the flavour as good as it can be. So if we’re making a peachy flavour, we take time to decide if it should be a very sweet peach, or if it should it be a more authentic, fruity and juicy peach. We start with a brief of what we’re working towards and then we figure out how to get that flavour.
BT: What would you say are the biggest challenges of your job?
George: Finding the spot-on mix. It can be difficult.
I work closely with Kevin McAdam’s Product Stewardship team, who keep us on track to ensure that the ingredients we’re using in our eLiquids meet our standards of quality.
Before we even begin to think about a new flavour, we test, test and test again – just to find the right base liquid using pharmaceutical grade ingredients. This is before we start creating the flavour with our food-grade flavour or aroma ingredients. We normally use the ones in our flavour palette – which have been cleared by our toxicology team.
Sometimes we want to use a new flavour, and while we may think it is the best flavour ever we need to ensure it meets all the tests we do to ensure it meets our high standards. That’s where our Product Stewardship Team come in – their expertise and tests tell us things like how a flavour behaves when it’s heated or if it doesn’t meet the set of criteria by which we screen each ingredient. If our Product Stewardship Team aren’t happy with the flavour we have to go back, reformulate and try again, until the formulation passes our tests.
For me that’s what Vype is – it’s our care and attention to detail, that delivers quality (and tasty!) eLiquids to our consumers.
BT: It sounds like you’re putting a lot of hard work into these formulations. What's the best part of your job?
George: Locking in on a formulation. When you’ve done all this work and you get to say: ‘this is it, we’ve got there!’ Everyone who’s tried the eLiquid has said it’s delicious and, you know what, we agree with them!
BT: Are there any particular areas of science or technology where you are making exciting progress?
George: We’re always looking at new technologies, and different ways of delivering flavour. Of course, there’s only so much I can tell you… But vPro – our range of extra intense flavours for the ePen – is an eLiquid technology that we developed in-house. And we’re already looking at the next generation of that.
BT: It must be exciting to be developing the underlying technology of the field you work in. How do you create your flavours?
George: We work with BAT’s Principal Flavourist Hans Chadjim, in Bayreuth. For example, we go to him and say we’re looking for an ‘apple’ flavour – but we want it to be a specific kind of apple, maybe more of a green apple or more of a red apple, maybe juicy and ripe or maybe a bit tart. It depends what flavour we’ve decided we’re looking for. Hans will then create a mixture of flavour compounds based on his expert knowledge, and send it to us here in our Southampton R&D centre. We then work with him to perfect the recipe as an eLiquid for our vaping devices.
BT: What’s your favourite flavour?
BT: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do a job like yours – creating eLiquids?
George: Work hard, be creative – and of course it helps if you have a good palette.
BT: It does sound like a very creative job. What inspires you?
George: Simply put, flavours. I love fruity flavours, like strawberry and apple, but what especially fascinates me are things like cocktail bars.
I know a cocktail bar where they have a flavour wheel and it shows you all the different complimentary flavours – and for every flavour combination that works, they have a different drink. We have a similar flavour wheel here in the lab – and cocktails are a great way to look at different taste creations. I’m also a big foodie and I love going out to good restaurants – when I can afford it!