Matured 4 Years | 81% | $ 360 USD
|Appellation||Piedra de Plata|
|Ingredients||Cacao beans, cane sugar|
|Release date||October 2018|
|Fermentation||6 days in Spanish Elm|
NOSE: Oregano, wood, cigar box.
PALATE: Dried fruits and cranberry, campfire, touch of beef, oregano and rosemary, tobacco.
FINISH: Eccentric, savory, utterly unique.
The initial production of our chocolate is only the first part of the process. Next, there is the matter of applying barrels or other aging vessels in combination with time. As we’ve learned from whisky makers, about 70% of the flavor of a well-aged whisky is derived from the wood in which it was aged. Extractable flavor compounds in the wood are what give the whisky its defining features. To’ak is the first tree-to-bar chocolate maker that comprehensively applies this principle to chocolate.
Meanwhile, other lessons have been drawn from the wine world. Dark chocolate and wine are both rich with tannins and other polyphenols. These compounds, also called flavonoids, largely determine what we taste in a wine or dark chocolate and how it feels in our mouth. Over time, these compounds are chemically altered through processes such as oxidation.
As dark chocolate matures with age, its flavor profile evolves. As chocolate makers who also appreciate both wine and whisky, this struck us as an interesting concept. Winemakers and whisky distillers have been using the phenomenon of aging to their advantage for centuries. In the world of chocolate, the concept of aging had never been thoroughly examined prior to To’ak’s pioneering work in this field.
Starting in 2013, we initiated the world’s first-ever long-term aging program for dark chocolate. In the process, we’ve consulted winemakers, enology professors, sommeliers, molecular scientists, conducted phenolic analysis in partnership with the enology department of Washington University, and experimented with twelve different aging vessels in countless different forms and conditions. Every year, we release to the public our finest expression of aged chocolate as one of our Vintage editions.
For four years, our Vintage 2014 chocolate lived inside a wide range of Ecuadorian wood vessels. Two and a half years into the experiment, we sat down with our intimate panel of flavor analysts and conducted a blind flavor and aroma test. Everyone unanimously agreed that the most flavorful and aromatic chocolate, at this particular juncture, was that which had been aged in Andean Alder wood.
Andean Alder (Alnus acuminata) grows wild in the mid elevations of the Andes Mountains. Alder wood has long been used for both medicinal and flavoring purposes by indigenous cultures in Ecuador. Like oak, it is rich with tannins and has also been used to tan leather. Its influence on our 2014 edition chocolate can described as truly eccentric and unquestionably unique.
OUR TOP PAIRING RECOMMENDATIONS
Dark chocolate, when tasted on its own, offers a fascinating ride of sensory impressions. Pairing dark chocolate with certain wines and spirits or cheeses can offer yet another level of pleasure and complexity to the experience. In the best of cases, a perfect pairing can elevate dark chocolate onto a higher realm altogether.