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Brand Profile – Castle Forbes

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This is the first installment of what I hope will be a series of articles profiling the major brands in wet shaving.  Here is some of the history and philosophy of Castle Forbes.


From the Castle Forbes website:

“Castle Forbes was created from the world’s smallest perfumery, located in the picturesque surroundings of Castle Forbes on the banks of the  River Don in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The castle and 6,000 acre estate is the ancestral home of the Chief of the Forbes Clan. The perfumery was originally based in a small dairy building within the grounds and initially only made bespoke fragrances for private clients.

Our mission was to create a selection of unique scents that captured the essence of the castle and the surrounding landscapes and, after much painstaking development work, our carefully crafted range of products bear the Forbes Family emblem.

From such small beginnings, later, Castle Forbes has now developed the ultimate range of male grooming products and fine fragrances which are renowned for their quality and performance. Our distinctive ethos is born from our passion to use the best that nature can provide by selecting only the finest quality sustainable Essential Oils directly from the growers for use in our authentic formulations, our mission being to bring originality and sophistication to our elite scents.

Using unique, handcrafted formulations with natural ingredients, we are able to produce shaving products which perform like no other brand and are free from parabens, colouring, artificial fragrances and are not tested on animals.”

In the grand scheme of things Castle Forbes is a comparative newcomer to traditional wet shaving, having been founded in the late 1990’s (the dairy building being converted into the original perfumery by Lady Forbes in 1996).  However the lands were granted to Sir Alexander Forbes (later the 1st Lord Forbes) in 1411 for his part in the defeat of Donald of the Isles at the battle of Harlaw.

The Castle Forbes Blending Philosophy

Castle Forbes’ range of shaving products and fragrances are well-known for their quality and performance. Their shaving products contain no parabens, no added colors, no artificial fragrances, and no animal products; they are also not tested on animals. 

Most other wet shaving brands build a base formula then add a scent profile (often using a very similar base formulation). Castle Forbes takes the opposite track: they build the shaving products around the Oils.  They created their shaving range out of conviction and ethos 20 years ago to use Essential Oils (not fragrances) which are both sustainable and traceable using recyclable packaging and they take pride in pointing out that they were the first company in the UK shaving range to solely use Essential Oils. 

For example, some other companies might claim Sandalwood Essential Oil.  While Sandalwood Essential Oil may be included on their Ingredients Listing after the “Parfum/Fragrance” listing, they, unlike Castle Forbes, are not using just the pure oil with all of the skin advantages pure oils bring. 

Castle Forbes uses sustainable Sandalwood Oil from Australia and Cedarwood Oil from Virginia which they are able include at effective levels as these oils bring skin benefits, unlike a fragrance compound which doesn’t bring skin benefits even if it it contains lots of Essential Oils, as each individual oil is applied to the skin in such miniscule amounts they couldn’t bring efficacy/benefit.  Fragrance Compounds are also used to make fragrance inclusion and stabilization easier. By definition a fragrance compound is usually a large selection of natural essential oils, synthetic compounds, nature identical  ingredients and aroma chemicals all ‘created’ by the perfumer as a formulation/recipe.

The range of Castle Forbes shaving products offer four different scents: Lime Oil, Lavender Oil, Cedarwood and Sandalwood Oils; 1445 using their celebrated fragrance was added after much demand.

Shaving Scents

The 1445 scent is a “green” fragrance with a light, fresh accord of ferns and grasses supported on a base of lavender, tarragon, lemon and bitter orange.

The Lime scent possesses a strong and zesty fragrance of limes. The scent is strongest in the shave cream: I like telling people using Castle Forbes Lime shave cream is like getting smacked in the face with a Key Lime pie.

The Lavender scent is packed with a floral fragrance of lavender. Lavender is well known for its soothing, relaxing properties. It is especially good for those who suffer from sensitive skin.

The Cedarwood & Sandalwood scent possesses a smoky, woody, earthy fragrance of cedarwood and real sandalwood essential oils. Their Sandalwood Oil is from a sustainable source, real sandalwood is very expensive and getting rarer in shaving products.

Castle Forbes Pre Shave Balm

The Castle Forbes pre-shave balm is water soluble and designed to soften stubble in preparation for shaving. It also leaves a very thin layer which aids razor glide, allowing the razor to shave smoother and closer. It is recommended for those who suffer from razor burn and ingrown hairs.  

Unlike some pre-shave oils it will not leave any sticky residue on the razor, the brush, or in the sink.  Like Castle Forbes shaving creams there are no parabens, no colorants, no animal products, and are not tested on animals.  Unlike other Castle Forbes products the pre-shave balm is fragrance free. 

Castle Forbes Aftershave Balms

Castle Forbes aftershave balms contain natural witch hazel which gently tones the skin after shaving, moisturizing and replenishing it without leaving any sticky residue. Castle Forbes after shave balm is available in the same fragrances as the shaving creams: Lime Oil, Lavender Oil, Cedarwood and Sandalwood Oils and 1445.

Castle Forbes Eau de Parfum

The real reason The Perfumery was created was to create a selection of unique scents that captured the essence of the castle and the surrounding landscapes. After a lot of development work a carefully crafted range of eau de parfum was created to bear the Castle Forbes emblem. Castle Forbes eau de parfum scents include:

Forbes of Forbes – a blend of exotic woods and accords of green herbal and pine notes supported on a soft amber base, this is a scent for men of all ages.

1445 – a light, fresh accord of ferns and grasses supported on a base of lavender, tarragon, lemon and bitter orange.  It is a ‘green’ fragrance that can be worn day or night.

Keig – named after the small village and bridge that crosses the River Don, close to the castle.  It is a zesty blend of lemon, lime and bergamot essential oils on a heart of sandalwood and cedarwood.

Gentlemen’s Cologne – this fragrance is a blend of citruses, oakmoss, lavender and pine with a green heart of ferns on a base of precious woods.

Their two Special Reserve fragrances are, as the name suggests, represent the pinnacle of the perfumery’s output:

Special Reserve Vetiver – historically known as the oil of tranquility with a reputation for easing tension and stress, Vetiver Oil has an earthy grass note with a clean woody, slightly smoky endurance.

Special Reserve Neroli – this scent harnesses three precious treasures from the Bitter Orange Tree, Neroli Oil from the delicate blossoms, Petitgrain Oil Bigarde from the young shoots and twigs, and Bitter Orange Oil expressed from the peel of the fruit.

All eau de parfums by Castle Forbes possess great staying power and will last all day long.


Note: Amazon, Smallflower, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.

Castle Forbes may not have the kind of history that other “classic” shave brands have (though the Forbes name goes back to the 1400’s!) but they’ve certainly become a well-known company in wet shaving circles.  Personally I found it interesting that they created a scent then built a shave cream around it rather than using a base formulation and adding scent.  Castle Forbes shaving products are also widely available from sources such as their website and Amazon along with major wet shaving vendors like West Coast Shaving, Maggard Razors, Smallflower, and many others.



Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

5 thoughts on “Brand Profile – Castle Forbes”

  1. Very nice, but what about performance? True, they have nice fragrances and they can trace their ancestry back to Adam but what about performance and how does it compare to other far less expensive brands? Also, how do their various products such as pre-shave and after-shave balm perform and how do they compare to other less expensive brands? Finally, how do they perform?

    1. Hi Saul– Castle Forbes shave creams perform fantastically for me. See my review of the 1445 cream for example. And my article about lime-scented shave creams mentions Castle Forbes prominently. I enjoy the aftershave as well. I have an older version of their pre-shave that I think performs well but I need to get a bottle of the latest version to compare it with.

    1. LOL. They used to be at the top end of the pricing scale but these days there are several others up there, too. But…you get what you pay for (IMHO).

      1. Keep in mind that Castle Forbes creams come in a hefty 6.8oz tub. Prices range from $38 – $44, or $5.58/oz – $6.47/oz.

        A 4oz tub of most Grooming Dept soaps at WCS is $26, or $6.50/oz. Wholly Kaw’s current offerings are $30, or $7.50/oz.

        Of course these are all US prices. If you find yourself in the UK, the retail price on is £22.50, currently a little under US $31. $4.56/oz is cheaper than a pretty big pile of your favorite artisans.

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