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Tabac Original by Maurer & Wirtz is one of those mass-produced shaving products that has always flown under my radar. Being German, one would expect quality, but to me at least, it doesn’t have the charm of the old Italian and English brands like TOBS and Proraso. I had also heard that the scent was odd, and not to everyone’s taste. And Tabac means tobacco in French, which isn’t the most appealing thing to me. I had never tried Tabac because of these factors and also because, in its most common form with the pretty white ceramic jar, it is a very pricey soap at nearly $6 an ounce. Since I had never heard much about this soap, I wasn’t about to pay this much when I could get a top-quality artisan soap for less. However, during the holiday shopping season, I saw a sale on Amazon for a “refill puck” (without the jar) for $10.50 ( $2.38/oz), so I decided to give it a try to review it on this blog. (The refill usually sells for $15.47 on Amazon, so that’s the price I will use for my value for money evaluation).
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: the scent. As the brand name suggests, this is a tobacco-based scent. It is very masculine and earthy and has grown on me with time. It is of moderate strength (5/10), and frankly, if it were any stronger, I would find it off-putting. As it is, it’s not a scent I look forward to, but it doesn’t bother me either, and my wife likes it. It goes very well with Stirling’s Haverford after-shave, which is inspired by Tom Ford’s Tobacco-Vanille fragrance. So I was a bit afraid of this scent, but it turned out OK. However, I can certainly see why it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. For me though, so far, so good.
Since I bought the refill puck without a container, and this is a tallow-based soap that you shouldn’t melt in the microwave, I broke the puck into small pieces with a knife, and I pressed them into my apothecary shaving mug. Brush loading with a wet synthetic Plissoft brush was speedy, maybe 30 or 40 seconds max. The soap lathered very quickly with a moderate amount of water, and it rewarded me with loads of rich, shiny, creamy lather. It turns out I had enough lather for three passes for both my dome and my face.
I was quite surprised by the quality of this lather. The ease of lathering, density, sheen, cushion and slickness were all excellent, just short of the best artisan soaps I’ve tried. The only performance areas where I felt that it fell back from excellent to good, was in the lather’s stability and post-shave feel. The lather has a tendency to dry a bit on my head, not a problem like it was with Marlowe’s Shave Cream, and indeed not a problem for face shaving. Still, for my time-consuming dome-shaving, I occasionally had to run a wet hand over some areas to re-hydrate it. The post-shave was good, not leaving my skin dry, but indeed not in the same league as Zingari Man’s Sego base, which leaves the skin super-moisturized and silky smooth.
Overall I think this is a very good shaving soap. It rates an A (Very Good) for performance, mainly due to the quality of its lather. If you are OK with the scent, this will be an excellent addition to your collection. If you love tobacco-based fragrances, this soap should be on your must-buy list. As for value for money, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. When purchased in the white ceramic container, it is way too expensive. However, if you buy the refill-puck, it’s a good value and rates an A for value-for-money. I like the look of the ceramic cup, and if I decide to make Tabac a permanent part of my rotation, I will buy one, then continue with the refills.
Tabac is widely available, and you can also buy it on Amazon to support this site.