Doble & Bignall Nicaragua Johe 72% 88.5/100


These beans, as with most of the quality beans that come out of Nicaragua are from – Ingemann Cacao – where distinct and separate varieties are sold, from Chuno to Nicalizo and the Johe beans we have here. After harvest they’re shipped to Gloucestershire where Doble & Bignall take charge of turning these beans into their stylishly packaged chocolate bars. With husband and wife team Simon and Margie both having strong links to ecology and environmental practices, they’ve chosen to illustrate their packaging with various birds, with the birds designed to indicate the intensity of the chocolate bar inside.


I’ve tried some Nicaraguan cacao, but I haven’t tried all the varieties that Ingemann sell, but I have noticed that they’re all, so far at least, distinctly different. With that in mind I’m not entirely sure what to expect with distinctive and variable flavours coming from different genetics and different growing environments across Nicaragua. If I have any expectation it’s that the chocolate might be good, so far the chocolate I’ve tried from Ingemann has been of high quality and having experienced Doble & Bignall before, I see no reason why they wouldn’t be producing a great bar with great cacao. Opening the bar to reveal alternately ridged squares and breaking off a piece to reveal subtly complex aromas of the british hedgerow, there’s blackberry leaf and bramble aromas with a hint of clove, it’s naturally green and fruity. To taste this bar reminds me a little of young wines, its fruity, really fruity actually, but without an overwhelming acidity. It’s fruit driven, but as a flavour and not as the acidic part of the bar, tasting more like juice than it does overripe fruit. The bars balance is provided not by a creamy over surplus of cocoa butter, but instead by fruit skin like tannins that offer a bitter counterpart to the fruity flavour, giving the bar a wholly juicy feel to it. This is a pretty interesting bar, offering something individual and an approach that is unlike most other bars, here the bar is fruity and tannic rather than acidic and creamy and this gives the bar a whole different and distinctive profile. The subtle complexity of flavour helps to add an additional layer to this bar and I can’t help feeling that this bar is ideal for comparing and contrasting with young wines, even possibly a replacement for anyone trying to cut out alcohol. Best enjoyed by those looking to try something distinctly different or for those who like fruit without the high acidity.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Flaky crumble
Mould: 5×2
Alternately ridged simple squares
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss, consistent

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Blackberry leaf, bramble, clove
Quality: Herbaceous, subtly complex

Melt/Mouthfeel 8.5/10

Length: Medium to long
Evenness: Quickens a little
Texture: Juicy, smooth, pastey
Quality: Juicy, firm

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Blackcurrant, lemon
Quality: Balanced, honest

Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Notes: Ripe fruit, sugar paste
Quality: Balancing, unrefined

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet
Notes: Fruity, blackcurrant, lemon, fruit skin tannins, hedgerow berries, sweet shortcrust pastry
Quality: Distinctive, subtly complex

Length 9/10

Flavours have a decent length as fruitiness grows, bar is balanced and rounded by the bitter tannins

Finish 9/10

Notes: blackcurrant, bitter blackberry tannins, hints of lemony citrus
Quality: blackcurrant fruit flavours lead up to the finish before bitter blackberry tannins mark the end leaving you with a juicy feeling and hints of lemony citrus

Balance 9/10

Bar is not overtly balanced, but all attributes help to counteract each other in such a way as to provide a balanced expression, lighter structure is bolstered by the tannins

Overall 9.5/10

Bar has depth and a decent degree of dimension, complexity is well balanced and structure while light remains uniform, expression is particularly individual and processing allows that through almost unadulterated, bar could possibly do with additional refining

Tasting Notes:


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