Everything about Whiskey 'N Hardtack screams "brand on the rise", from the fact that their hand-crafted, small-batch products have been getting positive reviews from some of the most well-known blogs and YouTube channels out there, to the fact that their latest limited release "Strange Bromance" sold out in a matter of minutes. This rising star of an indie-brand based out of Pennsylvania, is definitely starting to see their hard work pay off. With a full suite of beard-care products, as well as handmade soaps, lotions, and a sister company that makes a wide range of products for your better half, Whiskey 'N Hardtack aims to be something of a grooming emporium, offering everything you need to keep yourself looking and feeling your absolute best! I decided to give this butter a try because the scent seemed versatile enough to use regularly, and let's face it, whipped butters are one of the hottest trends in beard-care right now. So let's take this stuff out for a spin, and see if it makes for a worthy introduction to this company that has been raking in the accolades lately...
Not the most complex scent in the world, but what it lacks in dimensionality, it makes up for in quality...Upon first trying this scent, it reminded me of an all-around better smelling version of The Legend by Live Bearded, which makes sense, considering that they are both vanilla-sandalwood accords. But where the Live Bearded product seemed to be a very strightforward approximation of the two, this product has a bit more nuance, and might even have a surprise or two hidden behind its back. A plush, unmistakibly decadant vanilla forms a pillow of crushed velvet, sweet, relaxing, and bordering on perfumey, this isn't your typical vanilla fragrance, there is less of the typical "bakery air", gourmand quality about this stuff, and more of a powdery, ethereal, almost inscence-like feel...Sort of like what you'd imagine the chic, urban loft occupied by an erudite, globe-trotting trust-funder might smell like after they hosted a handful of glitterati for a sunday brunch; it's the scent of expected luxury, completely absent of any hint of real-world stresses and aggrivations. This is quickly tempered by a smooth, dense sandalwood chord that seems to pour over the top of the vanilla like so much hot fudge on ice-cream, sophisticated and dry, it's as sumptuous as your favorite cashmere sweater with the refinement, elegance, and raw appeal of an early 60's model Jaguar E type. Pering out from over the shoulder of the sandalwood, like a ghost only sometimes visible is a hint of something else, something woody and rugged that adds a brilliantly masculine flourish, it's cedary, it's salty, it seems to have a bit of char to it, I can't nail it down, but whatever it is, it is used perfectly to give this fragrance a bit more backbone, and helps it stand just that much taller than any other vanilla-sandalwood fragrances I've tried previously. Strength is initially a tick above medium, but quickly settles down to just a shade below. Staying power is good, remaining noticable for at least 4 hours or so after application.
How does it work?
A light, airy soufflé of a butter, this product melts beautifully in my hands, transforming into a super leightweight elixr that spreads wonderfully into my beard. As I've mentioned previously, I've been skipping any sort of heat on days when I don't plan on leaving the house much, and as such, just let my beard dry to a natural curl when I step out of the shower, to that end, I do find that I like the way this product performs on a heat-treated beard, a bit more than on a curly one. I think its ligtness acts as something of a double edged sword, and it just doesn't seem to penetrate as deeply into the curly thicket that is my beard on days when I skip the blowdryer. That being said, in-beard feel is still exceptional, this product offers a great level of conditioning and protection, while still remaining lighter than air, and a quick look at the ingredients list may tell us why; tapioca starch. Made from the root of the cassava, or tapioca, plant, yup the same one that the the little black balls in your bubble tea, and that nasty pudding that looks like baby vomit (get mad all you want, tapioca pudding is effing gross) is made of, tapioca starch actually offers some incredible beneficial properties to your beard (as well as the hair on your head), not the least of which is the fact that its jam-packed with nutrients which strengthen the entire hair, from root to tip. In addition it's hydrating and soothing for your skin, and is even said to help increase circulation when applied topically. It manages to do all of this while absorbing excessive oils from your skin and hair, which would be why it helps this product maintain a carbon-fiber like ratio of lightness to performance. It's really a wonder as to why more beard-care companies (and grooming companies in general) don't include tapioca starch in their formulations. Staying power is great, lasting all day long every time I've used this butter, although I suspect that due to it's gossamer-light nature, if your day consists on non-stop high impact activities, your mileage may vary.
The Bottom Line
As I said earlier, whipped butters seem to currently be the hottest trend in beard care, and it's easy to see why. This particular product offers everything you could want in a whipped butter; incredible lightweight performance, coupled with a scent that is sure to have you smelling your beard throughout the course of the day. I've had my eye on this company and their offerings for a little while now, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Whiskey 'N Hardtack is the real deal. This stuff provided me a great introduction to this company, and now has me curious as to what their other products have to offer...and I'd be willing to bet that after one or two go-arounds with this heavenly butter, you'll feel equally as compelled to see what else these guys have to offer!
Ingrediets: Shea Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Fragrance, Tapioca Starch
$14.95 at whiskeynhardtack.com