Mont Blanc is the highest mountain peak in the Alps with a height of 4808.7m from sea level, the name translating as 'White Mountain' for those reading with limited French. The luxury goods design and manufacturing company Montblanc, commonly known for their Meisterstuck range of pens began using the peak's title for their brand name in 1909 and since then they have been producing arguably some of the best writing instruments in the world.
Montblanc's flagship pen, the '149' costs an eye watering £650 in a fetching platinum trim but their range currently tops-out at a staggering £5900 for a rather fancy Meisterstuck Solitaire Blue Hour Skeleton 149. It comes as some surprise, therefore, for them to offer a range of fountain pen inks at just £12 per bottle (£0.20/ml) which is significantly cheaper than other brands such as 'Graf von Faber Castell' at £0.33/ml.
The bottle that Montblanc use for their fountain pen inks is a piece of art and is my favourite ink bottle ever. Whilst I do not keep them, instead relying on my standard 30ml bottles, I am very tempted as they are both practical and well made. They contain 60ml of ink in a shallow trough with a clever divider between two ends of the bottle meaning that as you get closer to running-out you can pour the ink into the filling end and it will be deep enough to still fill a pen directly. This enables you to get more of the ink out of the bottle before having to resort to a syringe. A previous generation of the bottle had a sharper triangular outer wall profile but this has been smoothed over in the latest iteration, and whilst it is a less striking design it still looks great.
I filled a range of these inks via either cartridge converters or cartridges into various pens. Montblanc have standardised on the international-sized cartridge shape rather than go down a proprietary route and this is superb as I can use these inks despite not owning a Montblanc at the moment.
Montblanc Mystery Black is a pretty standard black ink when all things are considered. It dries relatively quickly, is fairly highly saturated, is neutral in colour and doesn't feather or bleed any more than other good-quality inks. All in all this ink suffers only for being a bit boring - it is, however, my standard ink when I want a well-behaved black and I have used this for years in almost all my pens at some point. It is well-lubricated and stays wet in nibs and feeds which means that it is rather forgiving if you leave a cap off the pen. There are inks with more water repellency (this has next to none) such as Noodlers Bulletproof Black, but I know this one will work and keep working which is why I seem to always default back to it even after trying other inks out for size.
Montblanc Toffee Brown is a nice ink to write with; it is well-controlled and smooth with plenty of lubrication. The colour is OK for a brown but exhibits minimal shading and reminds me of Diamine Saddle Brown. I think that calling this 'Toffee' is a bit of a poor choice; I would expect a much more golden shade from this kind of description. It doesn't feather much at all on many paper types so if you want a good standard brown then this would be fine. I cannot, however, say that I love this ink - it is just a bit plain especially compared to some of the other colours in the range.
Montblanc Midnight Blue is a rather sultry blue-black ink which reminds me of Sailor Jentle Blue-Black in both shade and quality. It writes smoothly and reliably with a lovely shading across deep strokes. I always have a pen inked up with a blue-black ink and this could easily enter my rotation for such a task. The colour is not going to change your world, light up your day or scream 'look at me'; blue-black inks are not like this, but they are really suitable for times when you want to be understated, and I would happily use this ink in such a situation knowing it isn't going to let me down even on cheap paper.
Montblanc Oyster Grey looks like a bit of a plain grey ink with almost no shading, but in certain lights it seems to have a slight red tint that is pleasing. It is impeccably behaved with no feathering, show-through or bleed but is slightly on the dry side compared to the other inks even when tested with a medium nib. When I first tried this ink I didn't particularly get on with the shade, but the more I use it the more it grows on me. I am not the biggest grey ink fan, so I wouldn't get this for my collection but if you want something that is reliable then this may suit.
Montblanc Irish Green is the first of the Montblanc inks that I both haven't used before and that I will definitely add to my collection. It pops from the page and has a lovely deep colour without being dark. It was smooth and wet in my pen and generally OK in use but definitely shows more feathering and show-through than the other colours. Have I mentioned that I love this ink? Go try this, go buy this if you like greens.
Montblanc Corn Poppy Red is a sublime shade of red. It jumps off the page without being garish or too pink. It is highly saturated and dries slightly darker. It doesn't seem to shade much but that is probably due to the fast dry times and deep colour. Normally when inks dry relatively quickly they feather but with this ink the edges remain crisp and controlled. Show-through and bleed are non existent on good paper, making this a superb day to day choice for a red ink. I already have a bottle of this, but if I didn't then I would be going out and getting this one also.
Montblanc Lavender Purple just doesn't look like lavender to me, it is too dark and rich in colour. This however doesn't detract from this ink at all, this ink is excellent and looks amazing on the page. Normally purple inks fall over a bit when you use a fine nib as they look a bit washed out, but this one still looks great. Deep and dark, it has almost no shading but is well-controlled with minimal feathering. You could easily get away with using this in a more conservative office environment; unless you look closely it could be mistaken for a black ink.
The Montblanc inks that I have tried so far have a lot in common with each other; they are extremely well behaved on paper. With the Rhodia and Atoma paper that I have tried these on they show no significant problems. In fact, if they were not in a Montblanc bottle I would probably think that they were made by Diamine, which is about as high a compliment as I can bestow.
The winning inks are in my opinion the Irish Green and Corn Poppy Red; the others are fine but not shades that particularly resonate with me. If I was buying a 149 I would ink it up with some Irish Green without hesitation. Overall they are reasonably good value for money, the bottle is excellent and there is something within the range that will probably appeal to most people.
A range of inks by Montblanc were provided by The Pen Shop for review. I would highly recommend checking their stores out if you are thinking of buying a Montblanc pen; great service and the ability to try them out is essential at this price point. They sell both the bottled ink and the international cartridges, currently with a good multi-buy offer available. If I was to partake I would grab the Irish Green, Corn Poppy Red and a Mystery Black and save some pennies.
Image of the Montblanc bottle from Montblanc.com