Black Pepper

by Åkesson's
Info Details
Country Sweden   (via France)
Type Flavored   (75%; Lot N 759 500190.4/6)
Strain Hybrid   
Source Madagascar   (Ambolikapiky Estate)
Flavor Spices & Herbs   
Style Old School      (medicine)
Think cacáo has its controversial histories & varieties that engender debate? Pepper might give it a run for its money.

Pliny complained black pepper practically drained the Roman Empire’s treasury.

It, like cocoa beans, was once used for currency – around India. Each had medicinal applications (pepper prescribed incredibly for constipation & paradoxically diarrhea, as well as a salve to treat eye problems! Ouch.). Both once belonged exclusively to the realm of aristocrats due to their preciousness & exorbitant cost. The two are also inextricably linked because Europeans’ desire for spices from the East drove them to find shorter sea routes to Asia that led instead to their accidental discovery of the Americas.

In this bar they diverge... just as Alice of Wonderland fame fought thru her sneezes, “There’s too much pepper...” atchew... "gesundheit".

Take with a swig of a single malt.

Appearance   4.7 / 5
floppy-disk size package, bauhaus font, textured card board box w/ flavor-sealing plastic inner-wrap
Color: Stendhal’s Scarlet & Black for a crimson-brown w/ lavender highlights
Surface: unblemished face; designer swirls patterned into tic-tac-toe on the back
Temper: smoked glass
Snap: cracking assertively, seductive (likes to fight a bit before giving up); no cheaters here: classic chocolate architecture in the base
Aroma   8.6 / 10
black pepper ‘n spruce strafing then stuffing the nose along w/ a tiny floral scent (dry rose & lilac) + a little clove dust & Mobil 1 synthetic oil
Mouthfeel   11.8 / 15
Texture: dry powder, grits, & enticing granules
Melt: slow start... then fast & remarkably even
Flavor   38.4 / 50
a fury: cocoa powder up against it w/ pine cones & other conifers in a kind of sorbitol freeze -> meat muscle tenderizers (savory herbs & spices, black pepper of course w/ piperine compound leading the fray along w/ rosemary, oregano, & thyme) -> beef jerky whips off a few souring greens (Granny Smith apple, lime & red currant) -> sneezes a final pepper spray over palmarosa; post-progression leaves spruce behind
Quality   15.7 / 20
Bertil Åkesson plants pepper trees (Piper nigrum), which usually grow up to 12 –15 feet tall, to provide shade on his estate for the Theobroma cacáo trees (which must be rather short as the chocolate Flavor in this bar).

A quality burn from this pepper mill, snapping & biting with sharp teeth... never calls the dogs off.

The chocolate base is well-constructed - a balance of sugar, liquor & cacáo butter - but the hearty bean is processed to the brink of its innate flavor, creating a tame 75% (bet these beans passed thru the grinders/press a few more times than the stock-in-trade number). Cocoa so seemingly ancillary except for its butter content that further checks black pepper’s mild spiciness (which may have provoked the maker to add more pepper) but cocoa in only a limited way asserts its own flavor (those background esters generating tart green fruits).

Using cacáo as a foil accomplishes a fine exposé on black pepper thru a thin chocolate filter whose balming properties allow for a close-up onto it; without which it’s difficult to obtain, hence, involuntary reactions ensue... like sneezing.

Vosges could take a lesson from Åkesson on authenticity - this is real ground pepper - but as a confection this drops a heavy-handed bar of too much disequilibrium.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cacáo butter, black pepper (2%), soy lecithin

Reviewed Spring 2010


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