Meissner Tremonia Shaving Soaps
The chaps at Meissner Tremonia sent me a right parcel of goodies to try out ... no instruction, no hints, no tips, very little to go on other than try them and see how you like them.
I have a number of soaps to try out, five new scents as both a new paste soap ("Natural White") and a hard, transparent glycerine based soap ("Natural Brown"). Bay & Rum is one exception here as the hard soap appears to be the same formula as their present hard soap, the rest of the hard soaps are the dark brown, transparent glycerine based soap ("Natural Brown"): coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, argan oil, all organic, also organic wood honey, organic cane sugar, organics glycerine, myrrh and benzoin sumatra. The paste soap ("Natural White") is a new formula: coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil and argan oil, all organic, also organic acacia honey. I am very excited to see honey in these soaps which, along with cane sugar, myrrh and benzoin are all in there for skin conditioning, the removal of dead skin and encouragement of new skin.
Shaving Soap - The Scents
Bay & Rum
Black Pepper & Coriander
Stone Pine & Cypress
Guaiacwood & Bergamot
Bitter Almond & Texas Cedar
Bay & Rum
I found the hard soap the same as their regular hard soaps in terms of loading and lathering. The scent is not strong, but all too often Bay Rum can be overdone. I am going to guess by the title "Bay & Rum" and by the inclusion of Jamaican Rum in the ingredients of the Natural White formula, that this is bay ... and rum. The bay is there, you can smell it, but there is not the usual strong tingle which we associate with Bay Rum soaps. There is a little tickle, but not that [I]lathering with nettles[/I] feeling that many overdone examples can give. The rum is there too, you can smell it, but it's not overly alcoholic or all pervading. It's a fine balance and in the hard soap, Thomas nailed this one, giving us a specifically pure run at a Bay Rum.
Natural White, the soft soap was actually slightly stronger in scent. This is a paste-like soap, certainly more so than their present paste soap and more akin to the likes of Wickham's or Nanny's in consistency, another couple of artisan soap makers whose products I very much enjoy. In a lot of ways, this soap feels much like Nanny's olive oil soaps.
I thoroughly enjoyed both versions of the Bay & Rum soap. It's one that personally, I think I'd plump for the hard soap version, but if it is released as a scent it might not be as per the existing hard soaps and perhaps only in the new Natural Brown and Natural White forms. I don't know.
Black Pepper & Coriander
Whooo-ee! This is not one for the faint-hearted! The glycerine soap most certainly projects the stronger scent from the soap dish, that pungent bite that snarls up the nostrils. Once lathered and on the face, it's not as intense but very much there. Both Natural Brown and Natural White were less intense than they are when smelled from the soap dish. The effect was not as irritating as I'd expected with no burning on the skin, certainly not like Bay Rum soaps but perhaps folks with sensitive skin will get a tingle. Post-shave wash-off and cold water splash didn't awaken any tingling effects either. The smell did linger, evident the following morning upon awaking after shaving the previous evening.
So, as a scent, if you like black pepper you'll like this. There is a post-shave scent memory of strong, black pepper and I think folks with Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet, DR Harris Windsor or even Hermes Terre D'Hermes, to some extent, will want a spritz of that after a shave with this soap. As a test candidate, I think I'd say the scent is simply too strong. Yes, that is coming from me, someone who really likes strong, single-minded scents; I think it's too strong. I get it. I can see why; I'm not sure that understanding would be widespread.
Stone Pine & Cypress
I found both the Natural Brown and Natural White straight-forward to load and lather on the face, the glycerine soap requiring only a teaspoon of water dropped onto the surface of the same and a few swirls with a dry brush to pick up sufficient soap for what would have been right for a three pass shave. Same with the paste soap, really. I am now starting to split these in terms of performance: Natural Brown is a much stronger carrier of scent and in use, so much thicker lather is so easily made. Don't get me wrong - Natural White is a good paste, but Natural Brown really does stand out.
This is going into my rotation. Lovely green scent, perfectly pitched and not at all overdone, something quite easy to do with pine which can leave an overly soapy scent sometimes evoking scent memories of toilet spray. Not here, though. Perfectly pitched and knocked right out of the park. What a joy!
Folks who enjoy a splash of Pino Silvestre or a good spritz of Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme will really enjoy this soap as part of their routine. I went with Pino Silvestre as my aftershave and already had YSL Kouros on. It all worked well together. The soap on its own is a pleasant, young, bright green scent, not overly heavy.
Guaiacwood & Bergamot
Like Stone Pine & Cypress, this is a scent which they've got just right. Counterbalancing the deep, tarry, woodiness of the guaiacwood with the strong, rounded citrus of bergamot is just perfect. Natural Brown is most definitely the better carrier for these scents, the better formula and a much thicker and more protective lather created from, but I am really starting to get what it is that I should with Natural White. Compared to their existing line of a soft paste soap and a firmer, although slightly malleable hard soap, those are both also coconut oil based but have all manner of interesting clays added for slip and so on ... these soaps are pared back and most definitely have skin conditioning and regeneration in mind, given their ingredients over and above saponified fat. Natural White really is a nice soap. Certainly different from their existing soft soap, which really makes me smile at just how very excellent it is, Natural White is a lot more like all those regular [I]artisan[/I] soaps you can find under a myriad of names. It's good, simple soap, the addition of honey making the distinction and Thomas' real genuis at scent coming out to play with these test candidates.
I'm finding the scent plays perfectly with Puig Quorum. On paper, it's closer to Puig's Quorum Silver, but that is a little more green than their statute Quorum. Quorum features regularly for me and so this soap being a perfect partner is very welcome ... another one to drop into the rotation.
Bitter Almond & Texas Cedar
This is phenomenal! I so hope this scent is released as is, because it is amazing!
I absolutely hate almond soaps. I cannot abide almond. I bought Cella once after everyone raved about it, applied it, washed it off and picked another soap, the Cella moved on immediately. As chance would have it, I actually swapped the Cella for the Kent Infinity Silvertex I first used with this soap, a brush I used almost exclusively for about a year and it's really well worn in, got its own hairstyle based on my swirl pattern, softer than a box fresh, fuller and with just a little splay; not too much as to look like a shagged out badger, but a little splay so it doesn't look quite so upright. I digress.
Anyway, the soap ...
What a scent! It's NOT the almond you know from Cella. It's not even the almond you know from Grandstaff, who uses it carefully and in a subtle way in his Holy Smokes soap. It is bitter. It is acrid, almost. It is like an alcohol in terms of its effect upon the nose and so much better as the hard, transparent brown soap which seems to carry scent like a [I]Will o'the Wisp[/I] up the nose.
The soap is a perfect partner to Tabac. They're not the same, but Tabac is the next step in the journey. The addition of Texas Cedar in the soap is inspired. Who would have thought bitter almond and cedar go together? Well, I've said it before that Thomas is a genius, something I said about his Strong & Scottish ... and I think he's done it again here. My heart is practically racing, I am so invigorated.
As test candidate soaps, the formula is right! The hard, Natural Brown soap is just something beyond - pick your best glycerine based soap and make it abundantly better; the soft, Natural White, that very soap that you are already used to, but better. The scents are what we're playing with here and this is absolutely right. No change. No changes needed at all, thank you.
Aftershave Splash - The Flavours
I was sent three scents to try:
Bay & Rum
Strong & Scottish
I err on the side of more alcoholic aftershaves, leaving a drier, more taut feeling. I like that. What Meissner Tremonia has concocted here is an aftershave splash that both folks like me would enjoy and folks who like balms would enjoy - it's slippery, slick, cleansing, feeding and leaves a soft feeling without being overly tacky. Myrsol has a similar thing going on, notably with with Antesol and Plastic Shave flavours, but I rather felt they left a sticky residue and a tacky feeling. These from Meissner Tremonia don't.
Bay & Rum ramps up the bay scent and feeling if you've been shaving with the corresponding soap ... by a good way, too. It's not up there with pain inducing Pinaud Clubman VIBR, but it is certainly a cut above many. All too often with Bay Rum, it's Bay, Rum, Limes & Peppercorn ... and ... and ... and ... when actually just bay is a perfectly nice scent on its own. The addition of rum is lovely. I make my own for which the liquid part is rum and witch hazel. Meissner Tremonia are mixing up a concoction that is far more professional and adding in these single-minded, yet all engrossing scents, is very refreshing.
Dark Limes is as you'd expect, a perfect follow-on for their soap and a simple continuation of that mysterious lime. I don't have a lot more to say about this scent - it's right, just right.
Strong & Scottish is NOT like just splashing Scotch on your face - as an aftershave, it's peaty, very peaty, sweet and very slippery smooth to apply. Supreme post-shave feel, more like a balm but from an aftershave splash. That is high praise coming from someone who can't abide balms. It does have that sweet, almost medicinal twang, but it is NOT whisky. The soap is. The aftershave is not. I thought the subtle difference was very well done, because splashing on a fine Islay as aftershave does not really appeal to me, either.
I truly hope that the Natural Brown and Natural White soaps come to market - both really are very good indeed.
I also hope that some of the scents come to market, Bitter Almond & Texas Cedar in particular as soap is soap is soap ... unless it's Strong & Scottish or Bitter Almond & Texas Cedar, which are truly phenomenal! Some of the other scents could do with a tweak: both Stone Pine & Cypress and Guaiacwood & Bergamot were good, but I think they could become exceptional with another couple of ingredients in there to fill out the shape of the scent. Black Pepper & Coriander is too much. Bay & Rum is perhaps too little.
Aftershaves are indeed very good and as I said, they'll no doubt appeal to both folks who like aftershave splashes and folks who like aftershave balms, but perhaps that dual appeal is itself the compromise within and so, perhaps a more alcoholic splash would counterpoint their already available balm concoction.