Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon (V-Mail) ink review

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon is one of those inks that I wanted to test for a while and its time has finally come. Two things attracted me to this ink: the exotic name, and the color burgundy. It is also a V-Mail ink, resembling vintage inks to some extent. Along with this label, water resistance comes standard but this will be discussed in more detail below.

I tested a sample of Mandalay Maroon in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 3 oz / 90 ml
Price: $12.50
Price / ml: $0.14

Color and saturation

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon is a burgundy/maroon/reddish-brown ink with average saturation. It bears a passing resemblance to other inks I have tested but for the most part it has a unique color.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon detail

Below, I compared it to a few other burgundy inks: Diamine Syrah, Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses, and Sailor Jentle Grenade. I believe you'll agree with me when I say that Mandalay Maroon is the least attractive ink in this lineup.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon vs Syrah vs BSER vs Jentle Grenade


Sadly, Mandalay Maroon is completely flat, without any kind of shading or color variation. This is clearly evident from the 4-ink comparison above.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon detail


I'll admit I was a bit surprised that Mandalay Maroon doesn't feather even on cheap paper. For some reason I was expecting it to, especially since it really likes to seep into the paper. It's one of those deeply penetrating inks, similar to what you might find in alcohol-based markers.


Bleeding is high on cheap paper, to the extent that the reverse side will be mostly unusable. The situation on Clairefontaine 90g is improved but there's plenty of ghosting and even bleeding where the nib presses hard. This, of course, is based on my tests done with a broad nib. If you want to use this ink I'd recommend a medium nib or thinner. I'm sure those won't produce the same sort of bleeding.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

One thing that Noodler's Mandalay Maroon has going for itself is that it feels very smooth and flows well through the Pilot VP's broad nib. It's also pretty wet, which is probably what causes the bleed through.

Drying time

You would expect a wet ink in a broad nib to take ages to dry on good paper such as the Clairefontaine I used for one of the tests. Once again I was surprised by how quickly it dried. 5 seconds on this paper is incredible. This is easily explained by what I mentioned previously: this ink penetrates the paper like a drop of water on a dry sponge.

Smearing when dry


Water resistance

Water resistance is one of the main features of Noodler's Mandalay Maroon. It didn't disappoint in my standard water test whereupon I held the sample under flowing water for 1 minute. OK, it wasn't completely watertight, and a tiny little bit of pink dye can be seen spreading out like capillaries from the edges of the lines, but the text and drawings remain perfectly intact.


Noodler's Mandalay Maroon is a quirky ink, quite interesting in some aspects (water resistance and drying speed) but dull in others (color/shading and bleed). To my eye it is not very attractive, especially in comparison to other burgundy inks. As such, I wouldn't buy a whole bottle but I know that lots of folks love it, so if Mandalay Maroon catches your fancy don't be detracted by my purely subjective opinion.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon detail

Below are the two samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g, respectively.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon on photocopy

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon on Clairefontaine


  1. Another fine review. I have to admit that based on the photos of your review, I sort of like the color. However, I have both Diamine Syrah and Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses and really enjoy both of those so I probably wouldn't rush out to buy a bottle of this. The water resistance is certainly a plus, though. :-)

  2. Thanks! Yeah you won't miss much if you stick to what you have. BSER especially is such a lovely ink.

  3. Margaret at Goulet PensMarch 23, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    Great, thorough review! -Margaret