El Rey’s strongest offering, with an intense berry flavor and textural roughness indicative of its Mesoamerican origins. Quite a unique presentation overall.
Alex Rast: 13-Oct-2005
Could this be the strongest 70% bar on the market? Surely it gives all the competition a strong run for the money. Intensity is in every way the keynote of this bar and virtually everything else seems to be sacrificed to that goal. Not the best texturally, but if you want your chocolate to hit you like a freight train, this is the bar to get.
It’s a bit unexpected to find a very dark, almost purplish bar with this chocolate, and indeed is cause for doubt – is this *really* the elite Carenero Superior bean? The very dark colour suggests a Forastero, but a very careful examination reveals what might be purple to be more of a darkened red. Finish, however, is not this bar’s stong suit. Indeed, it looks pretty rough and ready, flat in surface sheen, and with a bit of chocolate dust that suggests either indifferent handling or a dry bar. It will become clear that the latter cause is most likely the most important.
Nonetheless, the paranoia that this might somehow be a Forastero is immediately dispelled by the powerful aroma, a seductive, complex mix of tropical fruits and darker woody shades. This aroma is classic Carenero and by its power you can tell that this will be a strong chocolate. As soon as you take the first bite, wave upon wave of intensity hammers you. The chocolate impact is amazing and borders on sensory overload. There’s an initial fruitiness which gives way to a rich earthy flavour – the taste of humus. Obviously this is quite a dark roast, and, it must be said, perhaps a little on the too-dark side for the bean. It’s certainly not egregiously overroasted, but perhaps a lighter touch could have retained the same power while revealing a few flavour subtleties.
The texture makes it immediately clear how El Rey got the power so extreme – it’s very dry, bearing witness to the lower cocoa butter content El Rey has chosen to go with for this bar in order to achieve maximum strength. It’s not especially smooth, either, making for something of a “”rustic”" experience. There is certainly room for improvement here although it’s also equally self-evident this is a stylistic choice. Gran Saman is all about brute strength, and so texture, subtlety, and appearance have been made to take a back seat.