A lot of people were (understandably) up in arms over this incident and many were of the opinion that Nathan should have discontinued the "old" Black Swan in Australian Roses (BSAR) and instead named the new formulation something else. I tend to agree, for the simple fact that as an engineer I like version numbers. If the old one was version 1.0, the new one is version 2.0 and the two, while alike, are not identical.
I don't doubt the new formulation is just as beautiful, as in fact many people have confirmed, but I'm also sure it's not the same as the old. So in my personal opinion I think he should have probably retired the old BSAR and called the new formulation something different.
As luck would have it, I had a sample of the original formula Black Swan in Australian Roses, and despite not getting sufficient votes for it in my ink sample survey, I decided to review it in parallel with my last ink review, Diamine Syrah. Why? Because the two inks are pretty similar. Doing them in parallel allowed me to better see the differences.
Because it's such a special ink, I decided to load Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses in my special fountain pen: the Pilot Vanishing Point with a broad nib.
Bottle and pricingThe new formulation of BSAR sells for $12.50 for a 3 oz / 90 ml bottle, or $0.14 per milliliter.
Color and saturationIn a nutshell, Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses (original formula :) is gorgeous. While initially I thought Diamine Syrah might have the edge, after using both inks in parallel some more, I came to the conclusion that I prefer Australian Roses.
To get a better idea, I compared the two inks with Sailor Jentle Grenade (also discontinued).
All three inks are a dark shade of burgundy red but Australian Roses is redder and slightly lighter. All are also highly saturated. To continue the wine analogy started with Syrah, which resembles dark red wine, Australian Roses is somewhere between that and rose wine. I really love it and it almost makes me drink it. Thankfully it's not scented, or who knows what might happen.
For the record, I've been hearing that the new formulation is more purple than red. Hopefully I'll get the chance to test that one day.
ShadingNoodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses is very playful in the shading department. The color variation is great, and depending how much the ink pools on paper when you write, it can vary from dark pink to deep burgundy. In that sense it beats Syrah. A wet swatch of both inks looks almost the same but as the ink starts to thin, BSAR gets lighter.
In addition to shading, there's even some sheen, when viewed at just the right angle, but you would have to use a thicker nib to spot that.
FeatheringIf you use cheap paper and a thick nib, and peer really closely, you might notice a little feathering. Otherwise, that's not an issue on good paper.
BleedthroughAs in most such cases, using a broad nib on cheap paper with a dark, saturated ink, will at the very least produce some ghosting. Such is the case here, though it doesn't happen on Clairefontaine paper.
Flow, lubrication, and smoothnessThere's nothing out of the ordinary to report here. Black Swan in Australian Roses flows well in the Pilot Vanishing Point, regardless of the broad nib. The flow was controlled, perhaps a bit on the wet side. The Pilot VP's broad nib has some spring to it and that certainly helps in getting more ink to flow if you press harder.
Drying timeDark, saturated inks are a good recipe for long drying times on glossy, high quality paper like the Clairefontaine 90g I uses for one of the samples. It took around 30 seconds to dry on that paper, but less than 10 on absorbent photocopy paper. Even after 30 seconds, I would be careful of touching the written surface because it might still smear.
Smearing when dryYes and no. To elaborate, I would let it dry for a very long time before attempting to touch it. But after 24 hours or so it should be all dried out and smearing won't be an issue.
Water resistanceApparently Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses is partially water resistant and that's exactly what I found. After 1 minute exposure to running water, some of the pink/red dye washes off but most of it remains, leaving the text perfectly legible. That's good enough for me.
ConclusionNoodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses (old formula) marks the end of an icon. This beautiful ink has had a short but glorious life, if I'm to believe the hype surrounding it. That hype is well-founded though, because I found it to be a beautiful and unique burgundy ink, with great shading and good behavior, even offering the additional bonus of mild water resistance. I would recommend for you to go out and buy a bottle but I'm sure it's all been sold out at this point. You could always try the new formulation if you think that you're OK with a more purple ink. Myself, I'm a bit saddened that this ink is no more. I'm going to hold on to my remaining sample in case one day they'll be able to clone it.
Following are the two samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.