Shaving Soap Review: Barrister and Mann “Reserve Spice”

Posted: November 26, 2017 in Shaving Articles

Ease of Lathering: In an unusual move, I’m going to say “Weird”. This is a super thirsty formula. I’m not kidding. Put some water on the puck to loosen it. Leave more water in your brush. You’ll still be well within margin, and will have to add more, and more again. The soap also loads with, to me, a very strange consistency. Something I’ve never experienced. Without wishing to sound grotesque, I found the formative soap to resemble snot. It starts as a stringy, glutinous mess, but will turn into a nice, slightly nut-brown lather if you work a bit. Not hard, again, just weird and totally novel in my experience. I’m not a soap maker, so I don’t know what kind of chemical interaction is at play to make this happen.

Protection: Excellent. This is not quite the same formulation as the white-jar or “glissant” bases. It is a tallow base, but doesn’t have lanolin. It has a high glycerin component, and has a whole bunch of different other saponified oils as well. This is a high quality soap. Perhaps its character doesn’t quite send me into the paroxysms of joy that some people experience, but it doesn’t leave you wanting in regards to slickness or cushion. It’s not so much the end result as the method of getting there, at least for me.

Residual Slickness: Very good. No issues here at all. Just a step behind the very best slickness I’ve experienced.

Scent: Good scent. I don’t find that it knocks me down in terms of being an homage to Old Spice. I like but don’t love it. I feel like, in a lot of ways, Crown King “Sundown” is a better Old Spice scent (even though it doesn’t really even mean to be) than the Reserve Spice. All that said, the Reserve Spice is not going to be a disappointment if you’re looking for that classic scent profile.

Production/Value: Barrister and Mann is right at the top end of what I’d consider to be a mid-priced soap. The presentation here is classy and refined, with the wide-mouth jar and strong graphic design for the labels. I find that it leaves me wondering if I’ve paid a few bucks too much, though. I just want that extra “something” I’m not really feeling for the higher cost. The shave soap business is exceedingly competitive right now, and you can get so much for, say, fifteen bucks/tub that charging more for your product will often bring a sense of lofty expectations. I’m not going to say that the Barrister and Mann products are poor values. No. They are hard pucks that will yield a lot of shaves per ounce, and the quality is there. However, they’re far from the only game in town, and other soaps seem to deliver the goods at a lower price point.

Notes: I will go against the general trend and say that I prefer the white jar B&M formula to this one. Once learned, it lathers in a predictable and normal manner. There’s no weird, congealed mucus phase. I may be missing out on some grand idea that others can grasp, but this one isn’t quite a home run for me. That’s not to say that, with several more shaves under my belt with this stuff, I won’t suddenly click with it. That’s happened before. Early days, though, I’m a little on the fence about Reserve Spice.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

  1. Mike Casetta says:

    You nailed it! My thoughts exactly on this!

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