First part reasonable. Second part not. Simple as that. You can blather all you want trying to justify it.
On the color point though, shell colors have been getting darker - the latest Cigar and Color 8 from Alden are much darker than they have been in the past. I'm guessing the reason we haven't seen Whiskey or Ravello shell from Alden is this darkened pattern from Horween. That isn't really in control of AE.
So is it black or really dark brown? Frankly, I could see how you wouldn't want really dark brown if you're expecting something lighter, but that is how things go with shell cordovan. Consistency isn't something thats shell has been known for recently, though it does seem right that as an MTO they'd give you a heads up on the darkness vs. previous shades.
You've got more shell experience than I do, but what I've tried on and what I've heard is that it tends to run tighter since the leather doesn't stretch as much during lasting. Hard to say what they can do to fix it if they don't have more shell.
Edited by M635Guy - 2/21/16 at 6:10pm