Friday, July 25, 2014

Diamine Syrah ink review

The next ink from my ink sample survey, which got equal votes to Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrun, is Diamine Syrah. This ink is perfect for today's review because it is similar to the subject of a recent controversy: the change in formula for Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses (aka BSAR). As a result, I reviewed both inks in parallel. You will notice a comparison to Noodler's ink (original formula) in one of my samples but the actual review for that ink will be posted some time next week.

I reviewed Diamine Syrah in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion.

Diamine Syrah shading

Bottle and pricing
Diamine inks typically come in 80 ml / 2.7 oz bottles, selling for $12.95, or $0.16 per milliliter. Very affordable. I only had a sample of Diamine Syrah at my disposal, hence the lack of bottle pictures.

One thing that I'd like to mention here is that this ink stained my sample vial such that it didn't wash off with just water like most inks. Not a big deal, obviously, but worth keeping in mind.

Color and saturation
Diamine Syrah is a beautiful burgundy ink, of a deep and dark shade, very reminiscent of a good vintage wine. I couldn't get it to look so good if I poured actual wine in my Kaweco. Too bad it doesn't have the fragrance and bouquet of wine.

It is a very saturated ink and you will notice that it is a darker shade of burgundy than Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses (original formula). In reality, it depends how you sample the inks. On cheap photocopy paper, Noodler's BSAR appears lighter, almost pinkish, but on Clairefontaine 100g sketch paper it is much darker, which makes it very similar to Diamine Syrah. In actual use, BSAR is lighter on paper. This will be revealed in my review of Noodler's BSAR.

Diamine Syrah vs Sailor Jentle Grenade

At the same time, I compared Diamine Syrah with the only other burgundy ink I tested: Sailor Jentle Grenade. I'll have to admit that Sailor's ink is even more beautiful, with really wild shading and even some golden sheen. There's slightly more red in Sailor's ink, but apart from that, the two inks are fairly similar, more so than Syrah vs BSAR.

For good measure I also threw in a sample of Waterman Havana Brown (see at the bottom of the article) because it's a brown ink with some red in it but it actually doesn't help this review much.

Diamine Syrah has some very nice ink variation, otherwise known as shading. It is not as good as Sailor Jentle Grenade though. I can actually see Grenade's sheen with the naked eye in the handwriting, never mind the color swab. Still, Syrah has some of the better shading inks I've tested.

For the ink variation to "shine", a broad(er) nib is indicated.

Diamine Syrah shading


As usual, such a dark, saturated ink will most certainly ghost on cheap paper and even bleed if the line is wet enough. It doesn't do any of that on Clairefontaine 90g though.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness
Diamine Syrah flows well in the Kaweco Sport, despite the broad nib. Paradoxically, it also feels a bit dry on cheap, absorbent paper. Having used it for the past week at work taking notes on scrap photocopy paper, flow is not always consistent. Sometimes it skips and sometimes the line is too thin. This could also be a result of my style of writing, which can often be rushed. If I press harder on the nib and take my time, it seems to flow much better.

On Clairefontaine 90g it glides smoothly, without any of the above issues.

I can't even be sure if this is an ink issue, or a paper issue, or a fountain pen issue. Basically Diamine Syrah is on the wet side but shows dry tendencies under certain conditions which are hard to pinpoint. Either way, it is not a serious problem.

Drying time
Drying times are long on Clairefontaine 90g with the broad nib (a little over 30 seconds), but that's entirely expected. Cheap paper absorbs it quickly and renders it dry in under 10 seconds.

Smearing when dry
None, with the mention that you will have to give it a very long period of time on good, shiny paper, before you can touch it without smearing. A lot of dark, saturated inks behave this way.
Update: it does smear on good paper like Clairefontaine, even after it has dried for a very long time. I did use a broad nib, so your mileage may vary.

Water resistance
This is by no means a water resistant ink but it seems to not be a total pushover like other inks, either. 30 seconds under running water washed some of it off but the text and diagrams appear recoverable.

Diamine Syrah is a really cool looking burgundy ink with excellent shading and amazing looks. In typical Diamine fashion, it is generally a well-behaved ink and inexpensive to boot. If you enjoy your red wine, you'll very likely enjoy Diamine Syrah. Give it a try, you won't regret it!

Following are the two writing samples on photocopy, and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Diamine Syrah on photocopy

Diamine Syrah on Clairefontaine


  1. Very nice review! :-) this is a quite nice looking ink, definitely one I'll have to try out.

  2. Thank you for the great review. I've been pretty impressed with Diamine inks. Recently picked up a bottle of Diamine Ancient Copper and really like it!

  3. Diamine is one of my favorite ink brands for all the reasons you mention and Syrah (along with Diamine Oxblood) are two of my very favorite reds. By "reds", I mean that as a very broad category in which I would include Syrah. Highly recommended.

  4. Thanks! Diamine inks are like a drug. The more you have, the more you want.

  5. Yep, I think I have Oxblood somewhere on my wishlist.

  6. That is so true. LOL!

  7. Great review, I'm a Diamine fan and just about any brand in the burgundy maroon family. This one is a staple in my ink box. Thanks