Blog post by Gwen

Black Pepper & Sandalwood – spicy and resinous and woody


Acca Kappa is not a brand I associate fragrance with. If asked about the brand, I would have said they were a bath and shower products company. I’ve seen their soaps around here and there. 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, so, when I read that  Black Pepper & Sandalwood by Acca Kappa, which had won an Art and Olfaction Award in the Independent Category, I knew I had research to do.

Acca Kappa was launched in 1869 near Venice, Italy, and their business focused on hairbrushes and accessories. Acca Kappa soon became the largest manufacturer of quality brushes in Italy.

In the late 1980s, they expanded into luxury bath and beauty products, and in 1997, they introduced their first fragrance. Now, they have 19 scents in the line.

Nineteen fragrances! 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 began 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 brings a bittersweet, leathery aspect to the opening, as clove and nutmeg give it spicy warmth. There’s Balsam fir here, too, 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, sweetened and warmed by sensuous cinnamon. Black pepper adds a little bite to the heart, while agarwood, in a supporting role, adds a soft fruity/floral aspect that balances the spices. And then we come to the base. Patchouli, sweet, earthy and woody, and vetiver, musty, woody and resinous, are joined by Virginia cedarwood to 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. The beauty of the fragrance is in the way it is so deftly crafted.

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.

Check out Black Pepper & Sandalwood in our Shop.