Here we have Scotland’s entry into the ever-growing fraternity of British chocolate makers. For the past three or four years I have thought that American chocolate makers had this country licked when it came to awesome bean-to-bar chocolate. But now, I feel a good number of very talented people this side of the pond are fighting back. My previous review of the small group of Brits doing good things in the world of chocolate saw an absolutely wonderful bar from the Pumpstreet Bakery and now we have a completely different chocolate – a more brusque 80% from Peru.
Naturally one would assume that a Peru has very much of an uphill struggle against a Venezuela, and you would most definitely be right. But this doesn’t even want to be a silky smooth, cute, and inoffensive chocolate. I believe it wants to be dark, broody, intoxicating and mysterious. And it certainly achieves that goal. But even then it gives a luscious creaminess which should shock a few people that would think that 80% is “far too bitter for them”.
Over the past few years the packaging of chocolate has made leaps and bounds. I own view was that it was Mas Brothers that turned it into an art form in that it kept chocolate visuals to a minimum. Dick Taylor packaging took this a step further and become more than art. It tied the background of Adam Dick & Dustin Taylor into their packaging in a very distinctive way. And now we have very attractive packaging from The Chocolate Tree in Edinburgh which also differentiates their chocolate from the masses. It portrays warm elegance along with sophistication and the belief that you are trying something uniquely pleasurable rather than committee-derived functionality.
Within the, almost square, packaging are two ‘gold’ foil wrapped chocolate – each 45g and perfectly designed to make you hold back from finishing the lot. My problem is that if I open a bar of chocolate I find it incredibly difficult not to finish it the same day. Being forced to open another is a mental barrier which should serve to moderate my fine chocolate habit. I’m sure you will appreciate it when you try it. But doubt this extra task of unwrapping another bar will be insurmountable as this chocolate will keep driving you on for another fix.
Sampling the chocolate you should notice that the aroma is far more ‘jammy’ than balsamic. There’s more salinity and blackcurrant to offer any cheap adjective. It’s more profound than the typical ‘nose’ you get.
In terms of mouth feel it creates the exact sort of texture that mass-produced chocolate makers would crave – but alas they don’t have the quality of ingredients to make it possible. It’s rich, its warm, its cosy, splendid and beautiful. The length is admirable. The sharpness is certainly present but it’s short-lived. The brief slap in your mouth relaxes and becomes sensuous. The tartness remains but is controlled. There are no expansive flavours other than full-bodied red wine. As the melt subsides there are balanced notes of hazelnut and papaya but with a dash of blackcurrant, and perhaps even grapefruit in tandem.
I left this chocolate for a couple of days. The first visit it seemed harsher than this. Here that degree of tartness remains, but it is more rounded this time. It’s more polished and luxurious. It’s not an unusual chocolate bar in terms of flavour profiles, for that I suggest you try the fantastic 60% chocolate.