Duffy’s Panama Tierra Oscura 72% 90/100

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These directly sourced beans come from the most westerly tip of Panama, from Bocas Del Toros Island, where they are grown and harvested before being shipped to Cleethorpes, where Duffy Sheardown helps to use his technical expertise to turn them into one of his chocolate bars.

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In terms of coffee Panama’s terroir tends to get mistaken for the flavour of its geisha coffee and not necessarily the flavour imparted solely by the origin itself. That said the last chocolate I tried from Panama was light, refined, slightly floral, but unfortunately a little underwhelming. It’s left me a little unsure of what to expect from Panama as an origin, I’m not expecting anything massive in terms of flavour, nor in terms of acidity rather something more delicate, but in terms of flavour attributes I’m not sure what to expect. My hope is for something more distinctive and more individual than the last chocolate I tried. Opening the packaging, Duffy keeps it nice and humble with a simple 6×4 set of well proportioned squares, but the chocolate work is noticeably high for a single craft maker. Breaking off a piece reveals a subtle but complex set of perfumed aromas with notes of coffee, florals and orange on the nose. The melt could be more refined, but its pleasurable and has a really nice melting point. To taste the bar is light and relaxed, mellow even, it’s also highly consistent, all in all, well balanced. It makes me think of a really great biscuit or moreover a specialty millionaires shortbread, with a spiced shortbread base, topped with orange caramel, liquorice flavoured milk chocolate and a macadamia nut. It’s sweet and somewhat cakelike but it remains refined enough to pull this off without becoming unbalanced or overbearing. This bar manages to do very little wrong, it’s not overwhelmingly brilliant in any one area either, its best attribute really is its relaxed consistency. A relaxed journey through some subtle and pleasurable flavours discovering a bar that is much lighter than the colour of its chocolate would have you expect. Best enjoyed in a wistful mood or paired with more delicate teas.

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter & sunflower lecithin

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Dark burnt brown
Texture: Smooth, light grain
Mould: Simple 6×4 squares
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte, consistent

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Roast floral coffee, orange oil, sweet violets
Quality: Subtly complex, lightly acidic and sweet, perfumed

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Light grain, buttery
Quality: Consistent, heavy, firm

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 2
Notes: Orange
Quality: Fruity, light, balancing

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Caramel, shortbread
Quality: Bright, developed, uplifting

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Shortbread, orange, liquorice, ginger, macadamia, chamomile
Quality: Light, honest, clear

Length 9/10

Flavours are light, but lengthy coming in long waves across the melt, rounds come with regularity on the peaks of flavour

Finish 9/10

Notes: Caramel, liquorice, ginger, macadamia, chamomile
Quality: As the fruit fills the end a lightly spiced and floral buttery tone waves over the finish before leaving some subtle lingering caramel in an otherwise fairly clean finish

Balance 9/10

Flavours and attributes are all complementary, all working in the same direction for a light and sweet set of flavours and characteristics, strong structure provides more than enough stability for the bars relaxed profile

Overall 9/10

Bar has some depth, but probably more dimension, complexities are well balanced, structure is consistent and expression feel honest and individual, processing has provided a good degree of clarity


Duffy’s Tasting Notes: Light cherries & liquorice with leather and raisins in the aftertaste.

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