I ordered a pack of samples from Barrister & Mann several weeks ago, and had been really looking forward to trying some of their soaps. I had begun to wonder if the only high quality shaving soaps came from Europe when I started hearing some good things about this Cooperstown, NY, USA based company, but I had to try for myself. Because the Barrister & Mann soaps are made in small batches, the samples available are dependent on their current production schedule. Once I received my samples, which were individually packaged and easy to sort, I had to decide which one to try first. So I went back to Barrister & Mann to read some descriptions. Here is the description posted for the "Roam" scent:
"Inspired by the rugged individualism of American cattle ranchers, we blended the aromas of real pipe tobacco absolute, smoke, leather, herbs, damp earth, and grass into a bright, robust scent reminiscent of life on the open range. Timeless and virile, Roam hearkens back to the days of the Old West."
Below the descriptions of their soaps, Barrister & Mann advises in bold that their soaps are very "thirsty" and they require more water than other soaps. No big deal. I'm glad they told me. I was also excited when I saw that the ingredients included both tallow and lanolin. Any time I've used a soap with both of these ingredients, I've had an exceptional shave.
So, following Barrister & Mann's instructions, I made sure to soak my brush and the sample before lathering just to make sure I was using enough water. The first thing that hit me was that smell. Oh, that smell! This has to be the single best smelling shaving soap I have ever used. If I closed my eyes, I could picture myself sitting by the campfire on a cattle drive from Cheyenne to Oklahoma City. It was just beautiful.
The lather was pretty easy to build because I was sure to use enough water. The only tricky part was the fact that I face-lather, so it was a little messy at first, but that's part of lathering. Once I got the lather built, I had enough for two passes and them some on my brush. I tested this soap with two different brushes too: a Wet Shaving Products Silver-tip Badger brush and a Semogue 1305 Boar brush. I personally think the Semogue 1305 was the better brush for this soap. The stiffer boar bristles were able to pick up a little more soap and build a little more lather. The beauty of face-lathering with a soap like this is the constant infusion of smell into your senses. It really made this part of my shave a delight.
Once I began shaving, the second beauty of this soap shone through. The glide was incredibly slick, but with plenty of cushion too. I used a Merkur 37C Slant Bar which is a pretty aggressive razor, and I barely felt it. Not only was the shave incredibly smooth, but my face was too. Even when I was going to bed at night, I noticed I barely had a 5 o'clock shadow.
The quality of the lather and comfort of the shave.
An incredible value. I didn't even mention that a whole puck is only $16.00
The shape and size of the sample made it a little tricky to use.
The need for some extra water can make the lathering process a little messier.
I give this soap a 9.5 out of 10. This is a fantastic shaving soap made by Barrister & Mann. I would use it again and again just to smell it. The quality of their fragrances is unparalleled. That being said, the performance of the soap is superb as well. I did have some issues with using the samples; so my suggestion, especially if you face-lather, is to buy a whole puck of whatever scent sounds good to you and try that. You won't be disappointed. Shaving soaps can be purchased directly from Barrister & Mann.