Before getting into the review of the particular ink, there are a few things I need to iron out. I will first be discussing retailers and then particular pens and how they react with this ink. Rather lengthy, but if this is the first review of the four posts that you’re reading, I recommend reading it. The first part is more ‘for me’, but the second part could save you a pen!
This review is 1 of 4(and a half) as part of the United Inkdom meta review. Ink samples have been sent to members of the United Inkdom (myself included). These were supplied by Pure Pens. I have, however, bought KWZ inks in the past from Bureau Direct. I want to include this disclaimer because I do not want to continue with a review if I do not highlight where the source of the ink in the review is from for this series. Grapefruit and Cappuccino are full bottles from Bureau that I have bought myself, while Honey and Menthol Green are samples I was sent specifically for review purposes courtesy of Pure Pens.
Finally – KWZ inks have an infamous reputation of reacting with TWSBI pens – specifically the Eco. I have encountered this problem personally, oddly enough with this exact ink, Grapefruit. I know that Honey has been known to stain the pen barrel and Menthol Green apparently stains converters (we shall see in my review if this is the case with me). I am not sure if this is the same case with other TWSBI models (540, 580, Vac 700(R) or (Vac)Mini) – I am not brave enough to try as I do love my TWSBI pens. The barrel gets scratched and it’s very difficult to move the piston – it is thought that the ink reacts with the silicone grease but I am not sure if this is 100% the reason. It is my understanding that KWZ have been working on changing this, but again, I am not brave enough to try and you never know how old the bottle of ink is that you’ve bought (i.e. before or after any reformulation). I have a Pilot 823 that was shipped to me after the original owner used KWZ ink and there’s no damage to the piston arm or any scratching/clouding on the barrel. I haven’t tested it myself though.
Jump to another KWZ ink review: (they will be updated with hyperlinks as the reviews are published)
So. Time for the review!
KWZ is an ink manufacturer that hit the mainstream within our community around mid-2016. The ink that everyone was talking about? Honey. However, when KWZ finally came to the UK in the autumnal months of 2016, I dipped my toes into the KWZ ink pool with Grapefruit. Mainly because at the London Pen Show, where I bought the ink, Honey was already gone.
So what made me go for Grapefruit? Looking at the ink sheet showing all the various inks at the pen show, one colour bounced off the page. In that moment I realised that I didn’t have an orange ink in my collection.
I also like grapefruit.
When I got home I was quick to ink a pen up with it. However, when I opened the bottle, there was a distinct smell of thyme. I messaged the London pen club group chat and others had the same smell. A quick Internet search told us that this smell, for KWZ, is normal. This isn’t an issue for me as I’m rather fond of the smell. I like it even more when the ink has been in the pen for a few days as it then smells of vanilla. You can even smell it on the page. One issue people may have is that the smell does linger on the nib for a little while. It’s no different to the scented J Herbin inks, if you are familiar with those. Though, I have noticed that the smell remains on the page for longer.
On copy paper, the ink performs well. There’s show through, but the bleed through is minimal and only really seen on the second swab. The drying time is reduced considerably (as you’ve seen in the images above, the ink is super wet) and it becomes very dry on this paper.
KWZ Grapefruit is a bold and vibrant orange. I would say that ‘grapefruit’ is a very appropriate name. The colour jumps off the page but is not hard on the eyes. It is darker and more striking than Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm. It’s also more saturated than Diamine Autumn Oak and Noodler’s Apache Sunset. It doesn’t, however, shade as much (then again, what does?!)
Orange inks may not always have practical applications and they are more ‘fun’ inks than business inks. Perhaps a nice alternative to a red for annotations and such? But if you are looking for an orange ink then I would highly recommend KWZ Grapefruit.
This particular bottle was purchased with my own funds at the London Pen Show, 2016, from Bureau Direct at a price of £12.95. KWZ’s Iron Gall inks can be purchased for £16.95