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Partner Profile: Castle Forbes

Last updated: April 05, 2018 5 min read 0 Comments

Partner Profile: Castle Forbes

Castle Forbes is one of the finest names in the wet shaving world. Its products have been a personal favorite of mine since I first got into wet shaving five years ago, and I use those to this day. In winter months, I wear the Vetiver Eau de Parfum almost religiously, and the Keig Eau de Parfum makes a frequent appearance in warmer weather.

One scent has always remained a popular choice with a broad range of our customers: the classic and distinct “1445”. It has been available for years as an eau de parfum and an aftershave balm but never as a shaving cream ... until now. By popular demand, Andrew French has decided to finally create 1445 Shaving Cream, and we couldn’t be more excited!

Mr. French and I have met on a couple of occasions, and I have been fortunate enough to share a number of conversations — and a few drinks — with him. Kent of Inglewood owner, Kevin Kent, and myself first met Mr. French in London in 2015 and again when he came to visit the Calgary shop later that year. We are hoping he’ll visit us again soon.

Not only the man behind the Castle Forbes products, Andrew French is also an expert in cosmetic chemistry and fragrance and believes strongly in the use of plant-based ingredients and pure essential oils. The following is our conversation about the history of the brand and 1445 in particular.

Thank you so much for chatting with us today, Andrew. Although I’ve heard the story, it never gets old. For anyone who doesn’t know, how exactly did Castle Forbes come to be?

I first became friends with Malcolm and Ginny Forbes back when they lived in London, and around that time, Malcolm's grandmother had given the Forbes family castle to his father, the current Lord Forbes. Malcolm’s father chose to pass the castle on to his son, so Malcolm and Ginny moved to Scotland to live in the castle and manage the estate. Ginny was new to Scotland and unfamiliar with the dreary winters. This inspired her to dig up the flower beds and replant them with fragrant flowers that she dried into potpourri in order to bring life into the castle during colder months.

Ginny was raised largely in the Middle East, which left her with a strong love for fragrances, and this drove her desire to perfume areas of the estate. I was formulating perfumes to strengthen her potpourri, and as the castle was being run as a bed-and-breakfast, this had a huge impact on the impression that guests had of the estate. The impression was so great, in fact, that many of the perfumes walked away when guests checked out.

This went on long enough, and one day I proposed to Ginny that we get serious about our little fragrance project. She cleared out the old dairy on the estate, and together we transformed it into the first Castle Forbes perfumery. This was a place for us to tinker and experiment, blending a large variety of different scents. Over time, our retailers and our sales helped us to shift our focus purely onto the masculine range that we make today.

When we started Castle Forbes officially, we began with a strong ethos. We wanted to live up to the quality that Scotland is known for: scotch, golf, cashmere etc., things that stand for culture and heritage and superior quality. With that in mind, we wanted to create a rich and heavy shaving cream that would glide well and protect the skin properly. Most important was a high concentration of essential oils, which a generic shaving cream base would not support. We crafted a base that would perform the way we wanted and would be capable of supporting such a high concentration of essential oils. While most companies modify their scent to match the base, we did it the other way around. For this reason, we have crafted a unique cream base for each scent to ensure that each one performs identically.

What is the benefit of using so much essential oil?

I believe in the serious skin benefits of many essential oils, which directed my focus.  In olden times, lavender was used to treat burns and scrapes, and it has a definite soothing and healing quality, lime oil slows bleeding, while the cedar and sandalwood blend is for general use, but it is believed by some to have antiseptic properties.

Once upon a time, we sourced our lavender from a local farmer, but once he stopped growing, we found a wonderful farm in the south of France that provides an exquisite lavender oil.  Our lime oil is some of the best in the world and originates in Mexico. Many varieties of sandalwood are endangered, so we source ours ethically from Australia. Our cedar oil comes straight from Virginia.

I am serious about many things, and sourcing the best ingredients is no exception. I also require absolute consistency in our scents, which is why you will find the fragrance of the 1445 Shaving Cream to be identical to the aftershave balm, which is, in turn, identical to the original 1445 Eau de Parfum. With the other scents of cream and aftershave balm, you get the optimum concentration of essential oils for your skin if you use the shaving cream and aftershave balm together.

1445 is an incredibly distinct scent. How did you come up with it, and what are some of the notes?

Years ago, we were fortunate enough to create perfumes for the Houses of Parliament. I wanted to make a scent that was distinct and inspired the image of an individual who is freshly cleaned but not overly perfumed. The name “1445” celebrates the year that the Forbes became the first Lord of Scotland. As you know, Malcolm’s father is a Lord and holds Premier Lordship of Scotland.

The main notes of 1445 are as follows: bergamot, lemon, and lavender form the top, basil and tarragon fill out the middle, while vetiver, cedar, and sandalwood form the base.   

In addition to your cream base being unique, I understand that you make a different base for each scent so that each cream works consistently with its main oil. I recall you saying that 1445 was a challenge and didn’t think you would make it. What changed? How did you crack the code?

Well, originally, we thought we would have to modify the fragrance to suit our base. We were unable to get consistency of the 1445 scent and, therefore, were unhappy with the result. With time, we mastered the ability to modify our cream base, and that allowed the chemistry to work with 1445 in its true form. We hesitated early on because of the complexity and also because we knew the product would have no additional skin benefits beyond those that the quality of the base itself lend it. The customer demand is really what drove the creation of this product, and that is why we are happy to announce its release.

Thank you so much for your time Andrew. Do you have any final words for the fans of your product?

For one, I am thrilled that people are loving 1445 and our product in general. I want to give my customers the best shave that they can possibly have, and we truly believe that our product delivers on this.

I sincerely appreciate all of the support that we get from both our retailers and our customers. I wish to continue bringing the best that we can to the customers that we have.

Nathan Harley Gareau
Nathan Harley Gareau

A famed cocktologist and axe man, Nathan opened the first Kent of Inglewood store in Calgary, and now spends his days writing most of what you are reading here and teaching straight razor shaving classes. Ask him about his world-famous Three Cherry Manhattan. In his spare time Nathan can be found sharpening his axe, making fermented foods, or practicing his amateur butchering hobby. He doesn't slur his words, he speaks in cursive.



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