BPAL Jolly Roger oil and Port Royal soap review

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BPAL knows, not all treasure is silver and gold

BPAL Port Royal 

If you’ve been around we heart this for any length of time, you know our well documented obsession with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. How could we not be obsessed with affordable scents that tip the scales of imagination? Scents based on everything from Shakespeare to RPG, medicine shows to muppets, love to death. The line is pretty much the epitome of why we started this website – to share things that we love. And let me tell you, we LOVE BPAL.

(If you haven’t already read our interview with founder and CEA, that’s chief executive badass, Beth – please do.)

BPAL Jolly Roger

Though all of their scents could be described as Bewitching Brews, this one literally is (as it’s the collection it belongs to.) Yarr, it be Jolly Roger ($17.50). BPAL describes the scent as this…

Sea spray with an undercurrent of leather, Bay Rum, and salty, dry woods.

As a fragrance, BPAL Jolly Roger has everything one would think of, and hope for, in a pirate scent, including mystery since the label itself is wordless. So, what does a pirate scent smell like? Here within lies another beautiful aspect of BPAL; it smells like different things to different people. Which can be said of all perfumes, but somehow I really notice this more with oils, especially ones as complex as BPAL’s.

BPAL Jolly Roger

Factor in that people have varying levels of olfaction, and the fact that body chemistries react with perfumes differently; and one person’s salty sea, is another person’s Cape Cod wind, is another person’s aftershave (all descriptions by fans at bpal.org, where you can find reviews of all their scents.)

I get an actual pirate ship from it; wet wood, salty ocean air and spicy cologne. Sadly, no leather. But ever so faintly there’s a powdery perfume on the dry down (despite any feminine notes being listed). Like a prostitute below whose scent is wafting to the upper deck. The tale that this oil tells is a complex one.

It does read more masculine to me, which is why I especially love it on my husband. When I asked him what he thought it smelled like (without telling him anything about it), he said “Las Vegas.” And when asked to elaborate, he said “cologne, perfume, booze.” This makes me think he may be on the upper end of that olfaction chart I was just talking about, because that’s pretty dead on.

BPAL Port Royal

While we’ll share the oil, Port Royal soap is will be all mine. Available from Black Phoenix Trading Post, where you’ll find things like Atmosphere Spray, Hair Gloss and Candles, their soaps are made by the folks at Villainess with generously portions of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab brews. Port Royal soap ($8.50) is made with “gunpowder-black clay, imported silk, and a thick crust of sea salt” and it is absolutely divine.

Here’s how BPAl describes the scent:

The Sodom of the New World! — touted as the richest and wickedest city in all creation! Port Royal was the center of 17th century Caribbean commerce, a notorious safe harbor for pirates, and the site of our third flagship store, which was, sadly, destroyed in the earthquake of 1692. Spiced rum and ship’s wood mixed with the body-warmed trace of a prostitute’s perfume and a hint of salty sea air on the dry-down.

Tales of Port Royal are of “gaudy displays of wealth and loose morals.” Apparently, an all-around hedonistic drunken good time (which during its heyday had one drinking house for every 10 residents!)

BPAL Port Royal

The soap is approximately 3.5oz, 1″ thick, 3″ square block of soap. Aside from the crust of salt on top, it’s got swirls of texture, a nice lather and an intoxicating scent (which leans more feminine to me than the oil) that makes me happy every time I use it. Yo ho ho ho, a bar of soap for me!

BPAL Port Royal

All in all, Port Royal and Jolly Roger fit perfectly into the dark, romantic Gothic tone that BPAL is known for.

we heartsters, would you raise your Jolly Roger in Port Royal?

photos: we heart this, and yarr; stealing be bad!

Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.


  • Stef Andrews

    Stef is a plethora of things. Amongst them: co-founder of we heart this, photographer, condiment connoisseur, Philly girl in the California desert, borderline hoarder and a hardcore beauty junkie. She also has a touch of wanderlust and, arguably, the cutest dog in the whole world... skin tone: NC 25/30 skin type: oily with a fear of rosacea favorite beauty product: high end skincare and lip products

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    1. @rachelshay – they aren’t too many places to buy BPAL in person. BUT, you can order imps (samples) of their general catalog, non limited edition scents for $4 or 6 for $22.

  1. Awesome review–I feel like I can “smell” it just via your description. I have gone on the BPAL site so often and sort of lost my mind: there are so many awesome collections that I can’t ever decide which one I want! However, that soap is going to be mine, and I think I’m going to order some imps of the Mad Tea Party collection, because who doesn’t want to smell like Alice in Wonderland??

    1. YES! I have Alice and Two, Five, Seven and they smell divine. I need to get Mouse’s Long Sad Tale…

  2. BPAL is so awesome. I love that their packaging leans on the edgier side, making it a perfect for a product loving dude.

    1. I meant to say the packaging was edgy/slightly masculine hehe. Hope I didn’t come across as saying edgy girls wouldn’t like this :) :)

  3. It’s a testament to the cult of BPAL that, even when a scent is not something that I normally wear, the packaging and description always make me go, “WANT! WANTWANTWANTWANTWANT!!!”

    Than again, I might just be a slut for a good perfume oil. But I’m okay with that!

  4. Awesome review!
    I sooo want this soap!
    I want to share a lovely shanty- :)
    “Cape Cod Girls”
    Cape Cod girls ain’t got no combs
    Haul away, haul away
    They brush their hair with codfish bones
    And we’re bound away for Australia
    So heave away, me bully, bully boys
    Haul away, haul away
    Heave her up and don’t you make a noise
    And we’re bound away for Australia
    Cape Cod kids ain’t got no sleds
    They slide down the hills on codfish heads
    Cape Cod girls ain’t got no frills
    They tie their hair with codfish gills
    Cape Cod cats ain’t got no tails
    They lost them all in the northeast gales!

    Yes, we sing shanties and sea-songs..

    1. LOVE THIS! Literally laughing out loud!

    2. I only wish we could have a sound byte of you singing this little ditty, @irene !

      I’m automatically drawn to anything pirate-y and I need to have both of these. Now!

  5. I love the overall look of the soap, a great package along with the big grains of salt. I didn’t get the chance to smell this but it sounds amazing.

  6. OMG, the packaging is so cute! I have a nearly obscene collection of BPAL oils, but this one sounds amazing, I must make it mine!

    Fun side note: in the competition of “ninja or pirate?” I ALWAYS choose pirate. It’s just more fun!

  7. My husband is HUGE on soaps and scents, as am I. I could smell it from your description, @stef! Better get this haul in our houseboat!

  8. Wow! This looks cool. Thank you for sharing this great post. I think I should have this product!

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