Au Lait – Extra Large Milk Soap – Scottish Fine Soaps

“Watts Tea Shop”

This enormous, oversized, dinosaur egg of a soap, at 300 grams, or 10.5 ounces, is the biggest soap I've ever seen, besides those hippie, cinderblock soaps, of course. It's really a huge thing, hard to handle (be careful not to drop it on your foot!) until it has shrunk down by half, which takes awhile, and then it lasts forever. It's from the Scottish Fine Soaps company, a 40 (plus) year-old company with a 40-strong team (that's a lot of 40s, but no matter) based in Stirlingshire, Scotland. They make a large variety of beauty products, and obviously ship them about—this soap ended up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milk is one of the major ingredients in the soap, and you can imagine this part of Scotland is beautiful, with cows roaming about, and centuries-old buildings—though I imagine, in reality, there are a lot of the same horrific (in design) late model automobiles everywhere you look, just like everywhere else—really, the curse of our modern existence, at least visually. I wonder if, locally, this company is looked on as a kind of sell-out, or if they are revered and respected? One thing you know for sure, there are local soap-makers here and there, just as there are here, making small batches of genuinely handcrafted soap—because you don't need much more than a kitchen to do it—but you've got to go to Scotland to get those soaps. One day Soap Exotica will get our traveling budget!

I like the fragrance of this one a lot; trying to describe it in a word, I come up with: Church on Sunday, Aunt Dorothy, Rich Lady. One of my friends had a rather negative initial reaction, saying it smelled like an old lady, and I have to agree; that is what it evokes in my mind, too, but I don't have a negative feeling about that. It's extremely nostalgic to me, leading me to think I had some contact with one of my older aunts when I was a small kid, and remember their soap or perfume. I guess this might be described as “powdery,” too—but not in that negative sense, of being overwhelming. Sometimes you will encounter a person (often an older woman) who has on such heavy perfume or powder that it causes a reaction, eyes watering, nose running—it's too much. (I know there are those who are very sensitive to this, and even a lesser amount of cologne can give them a very negative reaction. If this is you, you might hate all these fragrant soaps, understandably.) But ultimately I rather enjoy this soap, very soft and lathery, big and luxuriant, its fragrance evoking the feeling you might get from the older clientele at a dated but still classy tea room—thus my “one word” description, Milwaukee's gone, not forgotten, downtown Watts Tea Shop.

Soap Review No. 33