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Black Pepper & Sandalwood – Spicy and resinous and woody – October 29, 2016

Appa Kappa boutique, Treviso, Italy - appakappa.com

I first learned about Black Pepper & Sandalwood EdP online when I was researching Eau de Céleri, by Monsillage. You see, Eau de Céleri, won top prize in the Artisan Category of 2015 Art and Olfaction Awards. The A+O awards celebrate creativity, innovation and excellence in global independent, artisan and experimental perfumery. There are only five awards given out each year.  Anyway, right below Eau de Céleri in the list of winners on the A+O awards website, was Black Pepper & Sandalwood by Acca Kappa, which had won in the Independent Category.

Well, I know what black pepper is and I know what sandalwood is, but Acca Kappa – maybe not so much. If you’d asked me before today about Acca Kappa, I would have said they were a bath goods and shower products company. I mean, I’ve seen their soaps around here and there and I’ve even inadvertently tried some of their products, whenever I’ve found them in hotel bathrooms – miniature creams, shampoo and bath gels, lined up like tiny soldiers on the bathroom counter welcoming each hotel visitor to their new home away from home. But the name Acca Kappa didn’t leap to mind when I thought of perfume. That’s because they’re known for their brushes:

"Acca Kappa was established in 1869 near Venice, Italy. The focus of business at that time was the production of quality hair brushes and accessories. Acca Kappa soon became the largest manufacturer of quality brushes in Italy.

Acca Kappa is a family run business that spans four generations. Remarkably, the current President, Ms. Elisa Gera, is the great-great grand daughter of the original founder!"

In the late 80’s Gera expanded the brand with luxury bath and beauty products and in 1997, they introduced their first fragrance. Now, they have 19 fragrances in the line, four of them, including Black Pepper & Sandalwood, were signed by nose Luca Maffei, who also created fragrances for some of my favourite lines, like Carthusia, Farmacia SS. Annunziata, Jul et Mad Paris, Laboratorio Olfattivo and two recent favourite here at perfumeniche Ragù for Maison Gabriella Chieffo and  L`Attesa for Masque Milano.

Nineteen fragrances! Ooohh, Acca Kappa has a whole exciting new niche line to explore, but the longest journey begins with a single step and for me the journey begins with Black Pepper & Sandalwood.

It opens with bright, citrusy, bergamot backed by elemi, smelling all piney and lemony. Davana adds a gentle sweet fruitiness. Saffron adds a bittersweet, leathery aspect to the opening, while clove and nutmeg add spicy warmth, with Balsam fir smelling softly balsamic, clean, and sweet. Here’s the thing about the opening; there is no blast of citrus, no muscling of ingredients, no one star. The opening is soft, deep and beautifully compelling and creates the perfect path to a heart of lush, deep Damask rose, and sweet, warm sensuous cinnamon. Black pepper adds a little bite to the heart, while agarwood is here in a supporting role, adding a soft fruity/floral aspect that balances the spices. And then we come to the base. Patchouli, sweet, earthy and woody along with vetiver, musty, woody and resinous, along with Virginia cedarwood bolster the star: creamy, rich sandalwood. Nagarmotha, with its woody, earthy, resinous aspects links all the woods together. Black musk, which is woodier than it is animalic, is perfectly placed here.

The drydown is creamy, rich and woody with spices and resins threaded throughout it and so deftly crafted that it can be worn by a man or a woman.

If Black Pepper & Sandalwood is any indication of what I can expect from the fragrances in the Acca Kappa line, then I’m looking forward to exploring them all.

Black Pepper & Sandalwood is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.