I entered the fountain pen hobby shortly after Montblanc announced that it was discontinuing its now legendary "British Racing Green” ink. Though I never had the opportunity to try a sample of this stuff, I love Montblanc ink and pictures I’ve seen of the British Racing Green leave me fairly certain that it’s an ink that I would have been a staple in my rotation. Long story short, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past several years chasing the “perfect” dark green / racing green ink for my collection that approximates the look of the old Montblanc.
I never really fell down the rabbit hole of chasing actual bottles of discontinued or limited edition inks. If I came across one at a pen show or in a store at a reasonable price, I’d pick it up for sure, but I’ve never felt comfortable spending the $100-plus price that these old inks can command. Plus, given the rapid expansion of the market for fountain pen ink over the past several years, chasing discontinued colors has become completely unnecessary, since it’s highly unlikely there won’t be at a close match to your “grail ink” out there on the market.
Based on my years of "research", here are a few current favorites, grouped by similarities in color:
Darkest Greens / Green Black: Sailor Bung Box Dandyism and Robert Oster Grun Schwartz. Both of these inks are pretty close, with Dandyism being ever-so-slightly darker and the Grun Schwartz having a touch more grey in the mix. Another somewhat similar color is Sailor Jentle Miruai, though this ink definitely has hints of blue and ends up being more of a dark seaweed green.
Green-Brown: Sailor Epinard and Robert Oster Melon Tea. While still a very dark green ink, Epinard has a touch of yellow/brown and even shows some red sheen. Melon Tea can dry very dark in a wet nib, and certainly has some green to it, but it definitely leans towards the brown end of the spectrum. (Note that my bottle of Epinard is the old formulation, from before Sailor temporarily discontinued the ink. I’ve heard the new formulation is slightly different, but have not tried it out myself.)
Brighter Greens: Private Reserve Avacado and Sailor Jentle Waka-Uguisu. I expected the Avacado (yes, that’s how Private Reserve spells it) to be a bit darker. It's brighter and has more yellow to it than I expected. Waka-Uguisu is a nice tea green, and included here mainly for comparison purposes.
I’m not in a position to say which of these is the closest to the old Montblanc ink. I’ve never had the opportunity to try the Montblanc British Racing Green and photograph it in person. Also, online ink swatch photos can be inaccurate (mine included, depending on the calibration of your monitor, lighting, the camera taking the photos, etc.), and people's perception of color is highly subjective. Pictures I’ve seen range from so-dark-it’s-almost-black to a lighter greenish brown. If I had to guess, however, I would say that Sailor Dandyism or Epinard would be the two closest matches.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
All of the inks on this list are generally well-behaved without any bleedthrough, feathering, or excessive dry times. This includes the Private Reserve Avacado, which was a pleasant surprise, though it is the slowest to dry of all the inks featured here. Sailor and Robert Oster inks do dry extremely fast, in my experience, so that’s not to say there’s any major issue with the Private Reserve.
Pricing on these inks is a bit all over the place. Private Reserve ink costs $11 for 66ml, making it a bargain. Standard Sailor Jentle Inks (here, Miruai and Waka-Uguisu) cost $18, with the Epinard priced at $25, both for 50ml of ink. Robert Oster costs $17, for a 50ml bottle, and Bung Box is the most expensive, coming in at a whopping $43 for 50ml.
I purchased or received all of these inks from Pen Chalet, Anderson Pens, or Vanness Pens. Since my policy is to link to the retailer who provided me with the product, the links correspond accordingly.
Disclaimer: This post contains links to paid sponsors and affiliates. To the best of my recollection, I paid for all of these inks with my own funds (receiving a slight discount), with the exception of the sample of Avacado, which I received free of charge from Anderson Pens for review purposes.