J. Herbin Encre Rouge Ink Review

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I've barely ventured into the realm of red inks, but the experience I've had with J. Herbin Encre Rouge makes me want to try more. I'm a little confused as to what to call this particular ink, so I'll just stick with Encre Rouge (translates to "red ink") for now. This ink is part of the Les Subtiles ("subtle") line of scented inks, available in 5 different flavors/colors. Each scent is matched to a color, so in this case: roses are red.

I don't remember the exact circumstance that landed this ink on my radar, but I bought a bottle last year to use for a Valentine's day note for my wife. What started as a fun idea for Valentine's Day has become one of the most interesting inks I own over the past year. I don't really care for the scented aspect of the ink, but I'm in love with the color.

Before we look at the writing qualities of this ink, let's talk about the special part: the scent. Remember scratch-and-sniff stickers from grade school? This is a more grown-up version of that in a way. The scent of this ink is roses, and from what I can smell, it's dead on. It's not overpowering when writing -- it smells like fresh roses are sitting on the desk next to you. That's about all you get though. Once the ink dries, the scent all but vanishes. That's my major complaint for this ink. The scent just doesn't last once the ink dries.

When writing a letter with this ink, I would expect the scent of roses to greet the reader upon opening the letter. This just isn't the case. Only the writer gets to enjoy the scent.

It's still an interesting concept. Here's how J. Herbin describe the process of infusing scents into ink:

J. Herbin scented inks are made from floral water (hydrosols) of rose, orange, lavender, apple and violets. The hydrosols used by J. Herbin come from Grasse, France, a Provencal town long associated with the perfume industry and famous for its floral scents.


Now, on to the writing qualities of this ink. This is where I'm really happy. I describe the color as a medium red. I can see faint shades of brown in some of the lines, but it looks more like oxblood to me. Mostly, the lines just look like the color of red rose petals. Based on Brad's description of red inks, I'm not sure if I'd call this a dark or bright ink. It seems to possess qualities of both. On one hand, I can detect some oxblood/brown shades, but it also seems to pop off the page. What do you think? Dark or bright?

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Opinions on color aside, this is a very well-behaved and enjoyable ink. In my use, it shows some excellent shading qualities, no feathering on nice paper, no bleed through, and it dries relatively quickly. I've tried this ink in a few pens, and I'd say it has average lubrication qualities.

Apart from my complaints about the quickly fading scent, this is a great ink. I'm afraid it's the reason that I might launch into a red ink journey in the near future. It's a few dollars more expensive than the regular J. Herbin inks, and I'm not sure it's worth the extra money. If there's a regular J. Herbin ink or an ink from another brand that has the same qualities as this ink, I'd be very eager to try it.

(You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution, Twitter, and App.net.)

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Posted on February 13, 2014 and filed under J. Herbin, Ink Reviews.