Chocolate Tree 70% Whisky Nibs 93.5/100

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Chocolate Tree take rare heirloom cacao nibs from South America and soak them in premium single malt whisky from Islay, an island producing whiskey famous for its peat smoke and sea air notes. Once the Whisky has gently evaporated from the nibs they are blended with this exceptional single origin chocolate.

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I’d say I like whisky, but I’ve not delved into it deep enough to recommend you say my favourite bottle, my only real experience with whisky and chocolate comes from trying Matthieu de Gottal’s chocolates, which showed a diverse range of flavour between single origin chocolate and very particular whisky combinations. My mental image of whisky and chocolate comes from terrible childhood chocolate liquers, which weren’t exactly high on dimensioned or quality flavours, but in recent years we’ve seen a glutton of awards for alcohol and chocolate combinations as truffles and ganaches. Opening the bar and looking past the chocolate work, I’m immediately hit by a distinctive aroma, there’s honest notes of cocoa, peat and the sea. To taste it’s immediately noticeable how good the mouthfeel is, smooth and juicy before that inevitable cocoa nib crunch, it’s long and smooth nature is perfect for an inclusion. The acidity begins slow ramping up towards the end and this bar reminds me a little of a really great and freshly baked quality hot cross bun. Up front there’s raisin and dark sugar notes that suggest spice and dried fruit, with the bar beginning to open up and pear, candied citrus and peaty smoke merge in to liven up the proceedings. This is a particularly dimensioned bar with a lot of other flavours going on, a sort of pleasurable, but simple complexity, the kind you find when a few refined flavours blend well on a plate of food, the flavours I’ve noted are just the dominant ones, the more familiar ones. The best bit is towards the end where all the flavours peak, while complementing each other, with no one flavour fighting for dominance. The tail end of the bar is left for the whisky to best express itself, with smokey and peaty notes playing out their complexities in the finish. This is a really great bar by the end, most notable for its balance which is smooth and so simple as to make it seem easy. What this bar ends up being is a showcase for the blending, this isn’t just fine ingredients thrown together, it’s the correct fine ingredients blended together to provide a flavour better than the individual elements used to sum up its parts. This is pretty masterful blending and curating of ingredients to produce an inclusion bar that seeks to showcase neither the inclusion nor the chocolate, but the blend of both together.

Ingredients: Cacao beans, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter, cacao nibs(6%), Whisky(<1%)

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Lighter brown, light purpling
Texture: Smooth / Coarse, semi dry clay
Mould:
Chocolate Tree flower print uneven blocks
Snap: Crisp, thick
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Buttery cocoa, peat smoke, sea salt, malted barley vinegar
Quality: Honest, dimensioned, inclusionary

Melt/Mouthfeel 9.5/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Smooth, juicy, crunchy
Quality: Pleasurable, balanced, complementary

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 4>7
Notes: Raisin, pear, citrus
Quality: Builds, bright, rounded

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Molasses, burnt sugar, candied citrus peel
Quality: Developed, balanced

Flavour 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet
Notes: Juicy raisin, molasses, burnt sugar, peaty smoke, pear, candied citrus peel
Quality: Distinctive, honest, dimensioned

Length 9.5/10

Flavours build in length developing over the course of the melt getting longer and more rounded

Finish 9.5/10

Notes: Pear, candied citrus peel, tinges of peaty whisky
Quality: Hints of pear and citrus acidity and sweetness fill the finish, as flavours cross over to bitter sugars and complex smokey/peaty whisky tones that play out for a while

Balance 9.5/10

Bar is smooth and balanced, flavours and attributes complement each other well and roundedness helps to refine out the balance, medium structure provides control and openness to the balance

Overall 9.5/10

Bar has good depth with a much larger degree of dimension, complexities are expertly balanced, structure is uniform and expression is true of blended ingredients, which complement each other exquisitely

Chocolate Tree’s Tasting Notes: Delicious waves of dark chocolate complimented by the peat & smoke flavour of an Islay single malt.

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