04-22-2017, 10:38 AM
#1
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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After a hiatus of more than two years during which I worked down my (small among this ShaveNook cohort) rotation of shaving soaps, I broke out with the ordering of three and one-half completely new (to me) shaving soaps in March and April.  The one-half designation comes from the first of the nouveau soaps, Stirling’s Electric Sheep mutton tallow soap, which I used for the first time on March 3, and perhaps a dozen more times in the month of March; but our son and his family (who live 600 miles to the south) visited us the first week of April and he shaved with my Electric Sheep soap, liked it a lot, and — with my acquiescence and encouragement — he took the soap with him when he returned southward.  So I never really finished my own trial of Electric Sheep.  I replaced it this week with another Stirling mutton tallow shaving soap, Port au Prince.  

Mind you, aside from the fact that it comes from a sheep rather than from a bovine, the tallow that Stirling uses to make Stirling Port au Prince is not just a blend of all the fat trimmings (a by-product of meat production) as most commercial tallow is; it's specifically the rich kidney fat, specifically, the fat from the underside of the kidney of a wool machine that has been grass-fed in Missouri (who knew that they have grass in Missouri?).  Well, lah-de-dah; but conceptually, it definitely is cool that Stirling uses such very specially selective fat to make a soap just for me.  

I enjoyed the, erm, distinctive scent of Electric Sheep, which is very much not-mainstream, but (to me, at least) not off-putting.  It has a synthetic citronella vibe to it, more like the taste of a lemon drop hard candy than the taste of a glass of real fresh-squeezed lemonade on a hot summer day, and there is something apt in the “electric” appellation.  But, in replacing my first puck of Stirling mutton tallow shaving soap, I decided to explore another scent in Rod’s line-up.  

The reviews on the Stirling Soap website of Stirling Port au Prince (some of them, no doubt, are reviews of the former beef tallow version) tend to emphasize that it has a strong vetiver character; Port au Prince is, after all, a city in Haiti, and the soap contains essential oil of Haitian vetiver.  Those reviews mention, but tend to downplay, the second component of the Port au Prince fragrance profile, lemongrass.  Yr obdnt srvnt, however, was more struck by the lemongrass side of Port au Prince than by the vetiver side. 

We are very familiar with classic vetiver:  in our ground-floor powder room, the room where guests to our home visit to “freshen up,” we have a spray atomizer of elizabethW Vetiver eau de parfum, necessary — not to put too fine a point on it — because we ourselves use the facility in that small room daily, as it is the only fixture in the house fitted with a Japanese advanced toilet seat, which, once one has used it, becomes a necessity of life without which life becomes primitive and intolerable.  But I digress; in my small shaving soap rotation, I have a tin of Mike’s Natural Vetiver and a shave stick of Mystic Water Vetiver & Oakmoss; in other words, I have frequent exposure to excellent vetiver-scented formulations.  But the scent of the Stirling Port au Prince mutton tallow shaving soap is much less like any of the three vetiver standards we already had in our home than the scents of those three mutually resemble each other.  Maybe it is the difference between Indian vetiver and Hatian vetiver?  Or, perhaps, the presence of the mutton tallow, which does have some scent of its own, may mute the strength of the Haitian vetiver while bringing to the fore the lemongrass component?  Or maybe my specific sense of smell is out of synch with industry-standard noses.  One merely can speculate.  Bottom line:  the fresh scent of Port au Prince is very pleasant for me even though I do not detect as much the vetiver note that others have found dominant.  

As to the performance, the mutton tallow formula Stirling Port au Prince takes its place in the very top tier of my favorite shaving soaps, alongside Haslinger Schafmilch and the Mystic Water formulations that include lanolin.  I approached this morning’s shave with some trepidation, because this past week, I had been using, exclusively, La Savonnerie Bourbonnaise Cedar & Lemongrass (with Donkey Milk) shaving soap, and yesterday I had used that shaving soap with my iKon Deluxe Open Comb stainless razor (fitted with a KAI blade) for my morning shave, with the result of accomplishing (perhaps) the closest — not entirely in the good sense — self-administered shave I ever have done in my life:  although I experienced no cuts or nicks, after I had rinsed off my face, my cheeks and jaw were literally mirror-like shiny, reflecting light back at me from the mirror as if a flashlight were inside my skin pointed at me looking at my face in the mirror; and the feel of my face was like the feel of coming in from outside on a very cold day when a high wind had been blowing into my unprotected face, when my face was not really chapped, but felt pre-chapped, if you can grok what I mean.  This morning when I awoke, my beard still had barely grown out to the stage that the stubble was perceptible with my fingertips, and I might have skipped today’s shave altogether but for the fact that I was excited to try out the Stirling Port au Prince that arrived in yesterday’s mail.  

I need not have worried.  Using my Semogue S.O.C. two band badger brush, the Stirling Port au Prince whipped into a thick, protective lather that provided excellent cushion for my shave using the same KAI blade as yesterday, but today mounted in my Feather AS-D2 razor.  After rinsing off at the end of the shave, my beard area felt fresh and smooth, with no hint of yesterday’s pseudo-chapped feeling, and a normal clean-shaven visage looked back at me from the mirror.  

Stirling mutton tallow Port au Prince is a keeper.  

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 04-22-2017, 01:33 PM
#2
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Queens, NY
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An excellent post. Well done, sir.

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 04-22-2017, 02:54 PM
#3
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(04-22-2017, 01:33 PM)chazt Wrote: An excellent post. Well done, sir.

Agreed! A wonderful read!  Clap

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 04-22-2017, 04:12 PM
#4
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What a wealth of information and a terrific read. I gleaned a lot from what you have imparted to all of us here in this forum. As I am more or less a rookie to wet shaving, the details of your entry are great words of wisdom too me.

I have actually been wet shaving for close to three years with frustrating results. After reading Gourmet Shaving by Michael "leisureguy" Ham, I have been able to turn my shaving experiences around for a pleasure and fun shave with repeatedly good results. I do confess that rotator cuff surgery on my dominant hand two and a half weeks ago, makes it a bit difficult to fully enjoy, let alone control exactly what I am doing.

Your information on these great soaps will help get me purchase quality soaps for sure.

Cheers,

Don

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 04-22-2017, 04:51 PM
#5
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This year's Port au Prince is much heavier on the lemongrass than in prior years.  The mutton tallow formula is awesome and lathers much more easily than the beef tallow versions of Stirling.  I'm still playing with it a bit to dial it in, but have been loving the results so far!

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 04-24-2017, 09:18 AM
#6
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Interesting post.  Thanks.

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 05-28-2017, 02:45 PM
#7
  • JAYDEE
  • Israeli Ambassador
  • Montreal, Canada
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Thanks to my lovely wife I have an Electric Sheep in transit. I still have the sample which should last for a few more shaves. A guy I know told me it smells just like Williams and I told him he's nuts! Lol

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 05-29-2017, 01:44 AM
#8
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Lyrical

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 03-02-2018, 10:38 AM
#9
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(04-22-2017, 10:38 AM)Mel S Meles Wrote: I never really finished my own trial of Electric Sheep.  I replaced it this week with another Stirling mutton tallow shaving soap, Port au Prince.  

Mind you, aside from the fact that it comes from a sheep rather than from a bovine, the tallow that Stirling uses to make Stirling Port au Prince is not just a blend of all the fat trimmings (a by-product of meat production) as most commercial tallow is; it's specifically the rich kidney fat, specifically, the fat from the underside of the kidney of a wool machine that has been grass-fed in Missouri . . .

. . . I was excited to try out the Stirling Port au Prince that arrived in yesterday’s mail.  

I need not have worried.  Using my Semogue S.O.C. two band badger brush, the Stirling Port au Prince whipped into a thick, protective lather that provided excellent cushion for my shave using the same KAI blade as yesterday, but today mounted in my Feather AS-D2 razor.  After rinsing off at the end of the shave, my beard area felt fresh and smooth, with no hint of yesterday’s pseudo-chapped feeling, and a normal clean-shaven visage looked back at me from the mirror.  

Stirling mutton tallow Port au Prince is a keeper.  

Well, then, yesterday I received via email an advertisement for Stirling Soap Company, touting not so much its products, but its new website.  Curiosity led me to look in, where I discovered that (apparently:  there is no official announcement) Stirling has abandoned as a shaving soap ingredient the fat from the underside of the kidneys of sheep.  A search for “Port au Prince” (the Stirling shaving soap in my den) on the product search portion of the page returns no results.  A search for “Electric Sheep” (one of the original mutton tallow shaving soaps) on the drop-down menu within the shaving soap subpage finds it no longer listed; on the same drop down menu, “Scots Pine,” formerly offered in both beef tallow and mutton tallow versions, can be selected, and clicking on that entry takes you to a page where “Scots Pine Sheep” can be ordered.  The description makes no mention of mutton tallow or explanation for the word “Sheep” or the depiction of a sheep on the pictured label, but the ingredient list below shows mutton tallow as the first ingredient.  

So, if you are keen to try a mutton tallow shaving soap, it might be prudent to get one of the last tubs of the Scots Pine Sheep stock, because the unmistakable indicators on the Stirling Soap webpage point to that being the last of a breed.

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 03-02-2018, 01:16 PM
#10
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I was able to find and add both Scots Pine Sheep and Electric Sheep to my cart on the Stirling web site.  Both listed Mutton tallow in the ingredient list.

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 03-03-2018, 06:41 AM
#11
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(03-02-2018, 01:16 PM)jldallas Wrote: I was able to find and add both Scots Pine Sheep and Electric Sheep to my cart on the Stirling web site.  Both listed Mutton tallow in the ingredient list.

Erm.  That basically is a repetition of what I wrote above.  The point is, if you do a site search for the word mutton, using the site’s search facility, you are not directed to product listings for either of those soaps; and, whereas Stirling used to sell several more varieties of mutton tallow shave soaps, it is back down to two; on the site’s Shave Soap page, in the “Browse by” drop-down menu, Electric Sheep (one of the two remaining mutton tallow offerings) has disappeared; and on the page where you can add Scots Pine Sheep to the cart, the text description does not highlight the unusual tallow used (as the Stirling site used to do).  In the ingredients list for Scots Pine Sheep Shave Soap, mutton tallow is the first ingredient listed, but the photo of the product’s actual label states, simply, “Tallow” (although there is a mute drawing of a sheep, in the same label position as the sandpiper on the label of Sandpiper shave soap, which is not made from sandpiper tallow).  And in the Bath Soap part of the website, although there is a fulsome description of the specific Sheep Soap (of which there is no Shave Soap version), under the listing for Scots Pine Sheep Soap, the text is all about scent, with no discussion of the qualities of the mutton tallow.

One is reminded of the Kremlinology of the 1950s, when officials waving from the reviewing platform at military parades were edited out of the official photographs when they fell out of favor and were deposed or executed.  The cautionary word to those who may desire mutton tallow soap today is:  he who hesitates is lost.

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 03-03-2018, 06:44 AM
#12
  • Coyote
  • Senior Member
  • Hondo, TX USA
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Thanks Mel...........

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 03-10-2018, 09:50 AM
#13
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Scots Pine Sheep... one of their best, IMHO.. 

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 03-14-2018, 07:46 PM
#14
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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Mark Twain: “the report of my death was an exaggeration.”

A promotional email received today announces the return (rebirth?) of several scented Stirling shaving soaps that have mutton tallow bases, including Port au Prince and Glastonbury.

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