Review: Long Rifle Soap Co. Tallow Shave Soap: Brown Bess
(2018) In the not too distant past, in Upstate New York, there existed a quirky shop that was a haven to book lovers. Perhaps members of my audience will recall the store dented back from the lined main walkway of tourist shops. Its seemingly narrowly extended green and white awning clutching the second story could locate it. Amidst the stores selling rubber band Gatling guns, next to stores selling Lake Placid memorabilia, was a landmark shop selling mostly two items: pipe tobacco and books. It was called – imagine it – With Pipe and Book.
One did not even need to enter the store to inhale its alluring scent of leafy tobacco. As a high school student I visited every so often only to leave empty handed. Perhaps I assumed the shop would remain as monuments do: forever entrenched in the tide of tourist towns. It was a shop one could experience from the sidewalk with its shiny gigantic windows featuring heavy wooden bookshelves displaying scores of books. Looking back I wish I had purchased a favorite book from the shop for no other reason than to inhale the sweet smell of tobacco absorbed into the pages. Perhaps, being in the Adirondacks, it would be only proper to find an ancient used James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans for my personal library to install a welcoming aroma of a time gone by.
Much like Cooper, With Pipe and Book is no longer around. Years prior to the closing there were comments made stating the shop was on borrowed time. It hung around for a while, much after I cleared out of the town. Sadly the shop did close down but never had a buyer. The relic sat empty to remind those who sought out the shop, perhaps on some nightly stroll during a peaceful snowfall, the books glowing in the warm display lights. I would pick my next book to read.
I received a new shave soap scent called Brown Bess from Long Rifle Soap Company and eagerly unscrewed the lid to the six-ounce tub to sample it. All those memories of With Pipe and Book came rushing back in the form of a white tallowed pour tub. The description of the smell according to Amanda’s label at Long Rifle includes pipe smoke and leather. Prior to whipping up lather I added my impression of scents to include cherry. The Missus asked if almonds were present. Perhaps it was the added ingredient of sugar making the soap smell so sweet.
Each whiff of the soap brings back a different passage of a bookshop memory. Considering my friends and I walked into town, we walked past With Pipe and Book often. Therefore hundreds of memories come back just from this shave soap’s scent. As with all Long Rifle Soaps, it is quite thirsty and takes a bit of water to form lather. This part is also enjoyable as layers upon layers of scents are released. So, too, are the memories.
The sweet smell gave way to the pipe smoke scent and a light leather aroma accompanied it on each pass of the shave brush. This was the perfect way to clean up after a brutal spring classic cycling event in steady rain, wind, and cold temperatures. Every aspect of a perfect shave came forward with this soap. The soap performed admirably and reliably, forming a pillow lather that was important to get right with so much road grit in the whiskers.
In Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, Natty Bumppo, the romantic hero of the Leatherstocking Tales, runs through the woods of Upstate New York with his reliable weapon Killdeer. The rifle itself is a Brown Bess, a fearsome muzzle-loading musket that never ever missed its target with Bumppo sighting it. Long Rifle Soap Company’s shave soap, Brown Bess especially, is just as reliable. It will quickly become your go-to shave soap for the pick-me-up for your Shave of the Day or mid-week touch-up.
Perhaps you are wondering why we review Long Rifle Soap Company so much. It’s simple. Their products are attentive to quality and harken back to a setting that is admittedly impossible to sum up in one article. That’s why we shave with it so much. Perhaps each shave experience is another attempt at making the perfect memory. We'll start with remembering a bookstore scented with pipe tobacco.