As a long time fan of (at least half of their releases) CDG, and after reading so many positive reviews (on other sites) about Blackpepper, I had high hopes for this one.
I though it was going to be the first oasis in a sea of mediocrity, in regard to the oval bottle CDG line, in several years...after enduring the mundane stuff like the "Blue series," Amazingreen, Floriental, Wonderoud, etc.
Although my hopes may have been high, I kept them grounded in reality...so as to shun unrealistic assumptions.
Basically speaking- I WANTED to like this, and then I TRIED to like this. But I find it a disappointment, given others' rave reviews, as well as my affinity for black pepper as a note.
The top notes share Wonderwood/Oud's DNA; that's fine and dandy, and to be expected. Black pepper (as a note) DOES announce itself, but with a certain lackluster, and a definite deja vu and feeling of over-familiarity.
It may have had a bit of uniqueness to it, if I hadn't experienced the same thing years ago...
Back around 2003 or so, Diesel, of all brands, released a "Limited Edition" version of its super-sweet juice called Diesel Green. I purchased it accidentally at a great price on clearance at TJ Maxx. I was stunned by it back then, and searched high and low for another bottle of that anomaly until I finally had to order one online from Germany. And soon enough, the jig was up, and I had grown tired of it.
Well- Blackpepper's top notes immediately transported me back to memories of Diesel Green Limited Edition.
For a few minutes, at the tail end of the top notes, the ghost of Tar (Synthetic Series) shows up, and I consider it a short-lived treat...
Until the heart, which has a certain foodiness to it that really rubs me the wrong way. The best way I can describe it is celery and onions. Or chicken broth/soup.
All the while, Blackpepper is very moderate and dignified, insomuch as it's not a sillage beast, nor does it hover an inch over the skin. I find its projection level to be nice and balanced.
This juice's saving grace comes when the heart notes of chicken soup evaporate, leaving a long lasting base of tarry, dry, semi-smoky (as opposed to "dirty/earthy"), and tastefully executed patchouli. As far as a base/dry-down goes, the moderate projection is maintained at a decent level the entire time. I get a good 12 to 18 hours off this.
Bottom line- for such a good base, it's a shame this stuff goes through some jarring phases to get there. When it gets to the good part, however, it lasts, and it projects at a perfect level.
It could be much worse, but I can't give it a full thumbs up.