Botanical name: Piper nigrum
Type of fragrance: Spice
Method of extraction for perfume use: Steam distillation of the unripe fruit (dried)
Aroma profile: Middle note, bracing and hot. Earthy spice, rendered through steam distillation of the berry fruits of Pepper bush. Generally used as an accent top note in perfume fragrances.
In ancient times, Black Pepper used to be known as “Black gold” or “King of Spices”, and was the most important and widely used spice in the world. It has always occupied a uniquely high position in the world of spices, being used as an essential oil for its stimulating, warming, and cheerful properties.
The quality of the pepper spice is related to two main components; piperine and volatile oil. Piperine is responsible for the pungency of the spice, giving it a strong and determined fragrance. Volatile oil, on the other hand, is responsible for the flavor and aroma of the spicy, making it easily recognizable and desirable.
The native black pepper plant is original of the Western Coast of South India, specifically from the tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats. This coast was the center of the pepper trade universe in ancient times, where the plant was cultivated. Nowadays, the plant is cultivated in hot and moist parts of India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Malaysia, Vietnam and China, with Vietnam being the number producer and exporter of pepper spice in the world.
For using in perfumery, the pepper is crushed into a powder and then steamed until the distillation produces a colorless or pale green essential oil. This oil has a mild, non-pungent flavor and it is used in perfumery and flavorings. Different species of pepper are also used for this purpose, with white pepper, red pepper and pink pepper oil producing equally interesting but weaker perfume notes. Perfumes that contain pink pepper oil are usually more feminine than black pepper perfumes, but this will depends on the particular olfactory sense of each person.
For its very particular aroma, pepper is used in strong female and male perfume blends. The result is a perfume fragrance that appears to tickle the interior of the nose upon first smelling, which can be very appealing to some but can put others off the aroma. The amount of pepper used also will give the perfume a more elegant or tacky finish, so it is important to moderate its use when blending perfume notes; finding the right amount of pepper each perfume will need is very important for controlling the final aromatic result.
Pepper has been used widely as a medicine for centuries, and is present in prescription medicines for cough, anemia and rhinitis. Black pepper essential oil can be used pure or diluted as a blended massage oil to improve circulation, bruises, arthritis, muscular pain and anemia. Also, it can be used in winter because of its warmth-generating constituents in aromatherapy, and to increase the blood circulation.