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L&L Grooming vs Wholly Kaw... A quality artisan shootout

Hi B&B!

For reasons not completely beknownst to myself, I was recently driven to order tubs from both of these highly touted artisans.

For the next ten shaves, I'll alternate between these two artisans, sharing pictures and observations along the way.

Pre-shave: No more than a simple hot water splash. I want the slickness and skin conditioning to be from the soaps alone.

Brushes: I plan to use five varied brushes, each one during back to back shaves so each soap gets equal opportunity to fail or shine with each brush. I'm partial to soap destroyers but do have a wide ranging stable.

Razors: I plan to utilize a variety of new and vintage razors, both single and double edge. Each razor will get one go around with each soap.

Post-shave: I live in the extremely humid Southeastern US and have an oily complexion. As such, post shave will consistently be a simple alcohol based splash in order to let the skin conditioning qualities of the lathering products shine through. Like the brushes, I'll use each post shave twice in a row in order to pair it once with each soap.

Baseline: I hold a wide variety of known soaps in high regard. Favorites include QCS, Strop Shoppe, Haslinger, Czech & Speake, Sir Irisch Moos, Dr. Ditmar, Speick, La Toja, D R Harris, and Tabac. While I do enjoy scent, I value slickness and post-shave feel most highly in a good soap. I've worked through several of these soaps from beginning to end as a recovering 3017er.

Well, there's not much more to add in the intro so I guess I'll ask, is there anything particular you want to see or have tested regarding either of these soaps? Please feel free to add your own experiences regarding these two as well... Especially if you have pictures


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I'll be keeping an eye on this thread. The WK is not the donkey milk version, correct?

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I'll be keeping an eye on this thread. The WK is not the donkey milk version, correct?

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No Jamestown Gentleman doesn't have a donkey milk version, not sure if there are plans for one but I wish I had my crystal ball back
Here's the ingredients list for my tub of WK Jamestown Gentleman. I understand there are varying formulas for both of these artisans, so I'll specific to what I received.

Vegetable Stearic Acid, Beef Tallow, Distilled Water, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Castor Oil, Kokum Butter, Cocoa Butter, Glycerin, Shea Butter, Lanolin, Essential Oils, Fragrance Oils

Scent description from the manufacturer:
A tobacco flower for the handsome gentleman.
“I wish we could do something useful with tobacco – like making fertilizer shaving soap out of it.” What we think Paul Dudley White was really trying to say.
A gentlemanly scent with the fresh and clean notes of bergamot, lavender and neroli, light florals, sweet powdery notes, musk, amber, precious wood and tobacco flower notes.
Does not contain cinnamic aldehyde.

Just used my tub... letting everything settle in then my first review is to follow.


I’m not a fan
Watching! I'm interested in your review of these two.

I've never tried Wholly Kaw but I did try L&L a while back, unfortunately something in it stung/irritated my face.
So I kicked this comparison off with the Wholly Kaw Jamestown Gentleman. Overall a very pleasant performer. I was a little surprised by the amount of loading it took to get my standard quality of lather, but as this was my first time out with this soap that could easily be my fault as well.


Tonight's shave featured, in addition to the star of the show, my Merkur Futur set to 3/5 with a fresh GSB blade, face lathering with my Semogue / RazoRock Amici (a fantastic mixed badger/boar knot from Semogue for the uninitiated), and a finish with Suavecito's Premium Blends Whiskey Bar aftershave.

SCENT: [6/10]
This is obviously an extremely subjective category. After reading the description I knew I had to start with this scent as I was certain I'd found the perfect soap pairing to Alt-Innsbruck which is based on the scent of the tobacco flower. Overall, this scent is like a muted Alt-Innsbruck with a strong powdery background. Follow me on this if you can... If you cut AI's scent strength to about 30% then mixed it with equal parts of TFS Tobacco Verde, you're there. Someone that doesn't have the fondness for AI that I do and loves powdery scents may thing this strikes a perfect cord... I'm not that someone.

No complaints here! Minor deduction for the amount of product I had to use, but once I got things dialed in the slickness was completely on point.

LATHER: [10/10]
I like a heavy and wet lather that clings to your skin for dear life rather than any sort of airy foam. After a slightly longer than normal face lathering session, this lather fell right in line with my favorites and was honestly better than some of my old standbys. No complaints here, perfect score once dialed in.

POST-SHAVE: [7.5/10]
Post-shave feel is better than a baseline Italian croap such as Cella or most of the tallow RazoRock offerings. I'd say it's just below QCS' croap which is a solid 8+ for me. No unexpected irritation. Absolutely no post-shave tightness. This soap is effective but it clearly didn't come to play with my heavyweights like MWF or Strop Shoppe SE. Quite similar to Spieck stick's post-shave feel. No lingering scent noted after a few minutes have passed and the AS splash dried down.

VALUE: [6/10]
While I am already enjoying this soap, I'm having difficulty trying to justify a cost in the neighborhood of $18. Yes, I get it, cost is another subjective situation and your feelings may differ. I enjoy old school wet shaving as a hobby and certainly don't feel I was ripped off in any way, but I could likely purchase two of some of my other favorites for the price of one WK. This is one rating I might expect to change as this shootout goes on... really quite unfair to assess an appropriate value after one introductory use but I'd like to set a base line so here you go.

CUMULATIVE: [38.5/50]

I took a great deal of pictures which I'll add in a moment, wanted to get these thoughts down while they were fresh in my mind.

That's all for tonight! I'm already looking forward to tomorrow's first try with L&L, then another round with these soaps with a pure boar brush.
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A fresh tub, begging for adventure.


Tub following a decent beating from the Amici... I mean loading.


Amici after first pass/round of face lathering.


Lather left in brush worked up to show the slick, wet, dense heavenly lather this little tub is capable of.


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Yikes, these pictures are HUGE! Anybody know a good place to host them at a smaller size?
I say leave 'em be, I have no issues looking at the full-sized version...
I'll be following this one, these are two brands that I've been wanti to try out as well.
Great thread, @.soap.! I'm watching the thread and looking forward to your findings.

I have several offerings from L&L Grooming and find them to be excellent performers. Wholly Kaw is on my wish list, but I've tried to slow down my purchases for a while. So, I'm looking forward to this shootout!

The larger pictures are fine with me, also. Do what makes you feel most comfortable. Any way you go, I'm sure we'll still all be following along.
Thank you everyone for the encouraging replies.

In anticipation of using L&L Mayflower, here are the ingredients and scent description straight from the artisan:

"When I think "floral," I tend to think funeral - especially when it comes to a scent. With Mayflower I wanted to design a floral scent for the shaver who doesn’t enjoy floral scents. It may be sweet, but it isn’t sharp. When you shave with it, you will find yourself walking the line, with a rewarding semi-sweetness that provides a nice balance to its (non-funerary) floral notes. This is the perfect scent to celebrate the blossoming of spring all around you while avoiding the same types floral scents that you have grown tired of over the years.

Scent Notes: Magnolia, Cananga Flower, Honeysuckle, Vetiver, Tobacco, Rosewood

Ingredients: Stearic Acid, Water, Potassium Hydroxide, Avocado Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Bison Tallow, Mango Seed Butter, Castor Oil, Fragrance, Sodium Hydroxide, Lanolin, Bentonite Clay, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Extract, Salix Alba L. (White Willow) Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid"
Yikes, these pictures are HUGE! Anybody know a good place to host them at a smaller size?

Or re-size them smaller before saving. They look fine on my laptop, no issues...

My trick is to insert the photo into PowerPoint, shrink the size, then right-click and "Save As Picture". This can also be done in Word, and it retains the resolution better than resizing in Paint.
Thanks for the review of the WK. I can't say enough good things about the L&L Mayflower scent but that might just be my nose. I much preferred it to Jamestown Gentleman when I caught a sniff at a store. Looking forward to seeing how you see L&L performs compared to WK.
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