The complexity of Penhaligon’s fragrances is matched perhaps only by their variety. Post the no-tallow debacle, Penhaligon is one of the very few houses which continue to belt out their soaps/creams inspite of their reportedly low offtake. Being impressed earlier by Penhaligon’s English Fern and Sartorial, the Blenheim Bouquet (BB) was the third of their soaps I tried. Got myself a refill and set it in one of those aftermarket aluminum boxes shown in the picture. The soap fit in perfectly and the thing looked elegant too.
The scent is is the same bracket as DRH Windsor except that in BB the citrusy/lavender top-note is somewhat predominated by the black pepper. But as in all Penhaligon fragrances, the constituent scents are kinda refined; so that on their own, none of them threaten to assault the senses.
The soap is extremely easy to load thanks to the large size of the puck. During the initial days of my wet shaving stint I wasn’t too bothered about the size of the puck but nowadays I prefer my pucks large (~4 inches). It allows for sufficient splay and makes loading a joy, indirectly also lowering shedding.
So far so good. Now for the part I was most apprehensive about. The lather. I’d been told the post-tallow formulations were absolutely horrible in terms of lather slickness and hydration. I was mentally prepared for a letdown. To start with, I found the soap rather easy to lather with the Simpson Commodore X3. A few swirls on the puck and I was ready to put brush to face. The lather didn’t take time to build up, although as I had suspected earlier, it did seem more on the airy side. As luck would have it, I was briefly interrupted and when I resumed I was disappointed to see the lather on my face starting to dry up. I short loaded again and proceeded with the first pass with a Supermax Platinum blade that had already been used 4 times. As a matter of practice I don’t usually use a blade more than 3-4 times since it starts tugging significantly. While I was enjoying the exquisite scent, at the back of my mind I was also bothered about the soap disappointing me what with the added hindrance of an overused blade. I went through the motions and soon got over with the 2nd pass too. I brushed my hand against my cheeks and chin and boy was I surprised !?
And pleasantly too ! A near perfect BBS with almost no hint of irritation ! At first I thought it must be the blade. One in 10 turns out to be really good even after 4-5 shaves. So I tried the soap with my Henckels 17 next time, all other things remaining constant. It couldn’t be same with a straight but sure enough the result was similar and I had an “above average” shave with the Henckels. I have since tried it 10-12 times since my initial shave and the BB continues to surprise me with its near perfect shave in spite of the airy quick-drying lather. I have absolutely no idea how that happens. And that heavenly fragrance. Absolutely fantastic…
I have found the lather to be sufficient for a 2nd pass shave (and touchup if required). To me the only strike against the soap therefore, is its prohibitive price. The fragrance however, is top-notch and every bit worth it. With Penhaligon’s BB, shaving isn’t as much about the closeness, smoothness and post shave hydration as it is about the fragrances and the memories of people and places they trigger.
To be able to wake to a BB intrigue is indeed a privilege in itself, one that I always eagerly look forward to !