So this is my sixth Amano chocolate bar that I’ve reviewed and it’s quite possibly not my favourite. Of course they’ve won more awards than I’ve had hot dinners so it’s bound to be good by the standards of the wider fine chocolate market but its just not quite “there for me”.
Having chatted with Art I got to know the love for the cacao bean he has and how each bar has a bespoke packaging design which represents the nature of the chocolate’s origin. This bar comes from cacao grown in the Guayas which is a coastal region of Ecuador and reflects the with a Mestizo harvesting cacao. Obviously the cacao used with this bar was not grown at sea level but I would say much closer to the Andes (as the only elevated region of Guayas incorporates the slightest section of the range just to the north east of Balao).
Visually this has a very dark tone, it’s most certainly anything but light. It most definitely does look a serious bar – one that the faint-hearted might want to miss. I know it is just past its best before date, but that shouldn’t affect the texture which appears less engaging that those other bars, but for me, Amano is more about tantalising the other senses.
There most definitely is a sodium-chloride aspect to the aroma. Of course that means that it’s acidic but there’s a dark red wine edge to it, and half a cedar wood tone too – but without that dryness you get when you drink some alcohol at about 90% proof where all the moisture in your mouth seems to just evaporate. The ‘nose’ may not offer the most enticing experience of their bars, but it still has more character than many bars from Ecuador I’ve tried recently.
The snap was very crisp whilst the mouth-feel not quite as smooth as their other bars. What comes to mind is slate where there are many different strata in the chemical composition. On inspection I couldn’t see anything of the sort, but it just came across as being inconsistent. Although I’m judging this on the past high standards Amano have set themselves.
Flavour-wise it’s not as striking as those previous. Perhaps there is some of that pipe-tobacco type smokiness the tasting notes mentions, and a Ribena edge, but the under-ripe bananas it also mentions only seems to become apparent at the very tip of the mouth – even rolling over on to the bottom lip.
Maybe there’s a slight edge of apricot which gives it a slight sweet edge that underplays those green bananas, but there’s not much else going on. For someone that loves rich, bouncy, direct, flavours this bar might be a bit underwhelming.
I’m in too minds if other true Amano fan boys will like this, but I doubt it. The expectations the brand has established are very high and I don’t see this bar as being as enjoyable as the Morobe or the Ocumare.
I wish I could do reviews like this guy though. I think he likes it: