I am one of the 20 shavers who has never really liked Catie’s past work. The bare bones glycerin as the only moisturizer formula has never left my face in good shape post shave, and the fragrance mixes in La Terre Verte and Le Piment de la Vie both irritated my face. Plus paying $20 for an 8 ounce tub of soap that I will certainly never have time to fully use before it spoils makes no sense to me. (Maybe if that tub was the only soap I use, 8 ounces would be done in less than 3 years, but add another 20 soaps and creams into the rotation, and most of that 8 oz. is bound to spoil.)
Royal Garden is CB’s new “French Plus” formula base, meaning they add jojoba oil as a moisturizer to the mix. Second, the tub is 4 ounces rather than 8 and sells for $14 rather than $20. A higher cost per ounce compared to the basic line, but a more reasonable actual purchase price, and an amount of product that fits better into a rotation with many other soaps.
As usual, the scent from CB is superlative; more than just a simple rose, the rose mix here appears to simulate different parts and types of roses, so you get a mix of darker rose tones with lighter sweeter ones. Plus there is a woods and citrus background that adds additional complexity. This is another great scent, and well represents Catie's more formal artistic aspirations. I am not sure if the historical scent basis mentioned on the website (supposedly composed for the English King in the30s) is accurate, but this is a complex and interesting scent that will appeal to fans of both rose smells and more complex masculine formulations also.
Performance is very good, not great. Glide and lather formation / stability was excellent, but cushion was a tad on the light side, a complaint I have with many MdC style soaps. Tallow based soaps and some of the better vegans (like Soap Commander & Wholly Kaw) leave my jaw and chin calm and well shaved, but both were a tad sore after both shaves with CB RG. No big deal, easily fixed with some balm / moisturizer, but a point that keeps Catie's from entering my own personal top ranks of artisans technically. Post shave was good, better than the usual CB base formula, so I think the Jojoba does help there. Dry skin guys can get by with just a balm or even a decent splash (i.e. something better for the skin then mere alcohol and menthol.)
Odd point: as lathered, the RG soap appeared kind of stringy and fibrous as it came out of the tub. Once applied and brushed, the texture normalized and I feel this had no technical effect on the shave, so it was just a minor anomaly that I wanted to note and reassure other users about.
And irritation? None at all. Third time is the charm for me and Caties. Whether the fragrance mix differs or whether the jojoba helped soothe things out, my face was calm and trouble free. The smell here is at least as good as LTV, and (IMO) I actually like it more than LPV as I am a rose fan. Sensitive faces be reassured, this smells great, performs very well, and will not irritate your face (assuming of course your face is like mine, but I think my visage is on the more delicate side alas!
Ultimately, Catie has a great house "nose" and their scents always impress. Technically, they're making progress, and ideally I would like to see them leave the base glycerin only formula behind, move to French Plus formula, size and pricing, and maybe reformulate a bit more to get more cushion and post shave moisture. In the meantime, Royal Garden is a very persuasive demonstration of Catie's work.