The three parts of the Tallow + Steel review are:
Okay, let's start with the presentation. The collections arrived in a perfectly sized, generic kraft cardboard box but with custom #tallowandsteel shipping tape. Simple, nice. Inside were the four items you see in the photo, exactly as pictured (no sealing on the soap or aftershave).
The waterproof labels are affixed perfectly on the containers. The artwork is simple, elegant and consistent... With text that's mainly grey/silver while the background pattern and circle/product name are in coordinated yet contrasting colors. The ingredients are listed around the outside edge of both soap and aftershave, which is particularly neat on the aftershave bottle, as it has a square label. Also very nice (and much appreciated) is that the scent notes are listed too. Finally, you'll notice that the top of each soap is "branded" with the Tallow + Steel logo. Clearly defined, large and deep. Really nice touch, adding class. All around, the product presentation itself is top notch. The soap and aftershave are both 4oz (113g or 118ml). Typical for artisan soaps, but the aftershave quantity is a little higher than usual. Score.
What about the scents? I'll start off by saying both of these scents in particular scream, "Canada!" to me. Which makes sense, since they're handmade in Winnipeg, Canada. The scent strength is on the stronger side of medium and longevity, so far, looks decent as well. Dark is stronger than Rainforest and despite not having cedar or fir, oddly more "woodsy" on the surface.
Rainforest reminds me of a wood log cabin, lodge or gift shop that you might find along an evergreen forested road on an overcast, damp day. Inside are more wooden souvenirs and evergreen wreaths lining the shelves. Officially, it has notes of oakmoss, vetiver, patchouli, silver fir, frankincense, cedar, bergamot, rhoddodendron and wild orange. While the silver fir and cedar notes are dominant, this is a much more complex scent. The oakmoss and vetiver lend a green profile while the bergamot, rhoddodendron and wild orange add the sweeter potpourri of scented candles to the gift shop. Finally, the patchouli and frankincense add more spicy, earthiness to round out the profile. This stuff smells awesome!
Dark is altogether different, but at first whiff comes across rather woodsy as well - definitely darker than Rainforest. Officially the notes are coffee, cocoa, vetiver, ginger, benzoin and peppermint. Also a complex profile, you need to hit it several times to nail down what's going on, and even then... The vetiver and ginger give that greenish, woodsy tone with a little sharpness added by the peppermint. A bit of an incense vibe, which is furthered by the benzoin resin (a vanillic scent). The coffee and cocoa are more in the background but add a layer of complexity and depth that go well with the benzoin. It's like you're sitting in a local coffee shop (in Canada!) next to the fireplace with regular and flavored coffees being offered, while there's some incense burning in the distance that you get wafts of. I hate to sound repetitive, but this stuff smells awesome!
Here's a quick overview of the ingredients, which I find to be generally indicative of higher-end artisan products these days. There's some unique entries here as well, from the artisan-rendered tallow to the lactobacillus and other highly organic ingredients. Just reading them has me giddy to try the products.
Finally, let's talk about the price. When I first came across Tallow + Steel products I thought the price was on the high side. But one must remember, they're listed in Canadian Dollars (CAD). Also that these are higher-end artisan offerings which use almost entirely organic ingredients as well as the aforementioned tallow rendered in-house. If you buy the "collections" (soap and aftershave combo) you can save some money (especially on the Complete Collection package). They recently had a weekend sale offering 15% off... Not too shabby once things were all said and done. The real test will be the upcoming shaves.