October 7, 2005

Scharffen Berger – Jamaica a l’ancienne – review – Hans-Peter Rot

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Written by: Hans-Peter Rot

One of Scharffen Berger’s limited edition bars, Jamaica a l’ancienne is a rustic journey through a wilderness of coarse nibs and sugar crystals trapped in a solid chocolate sea. With a texture that harkens back to the olden days of cacao’s origins, but with a flavor that speaks of modern day technology, this chocolate offers the best of both New and Old Worlds.

Appearance is rather opaque and dusty looking, but the vibrant tints of red and magenta add much appeal. On the front of the bar, scattered bright red specks break the consistent color scheme, but turning the bar to the backside reveals a mountainous landscape of cacao nibs. The aroma is amazingly complex and strong, jumping out at me with a sharp and fruity perfume reminiscent of peaches, pineapples, rum, strong cedar woody notes, and even some mild butter hints.

The roughness of the chocolate quickly becomes the initial impression it leaves on you; the sugar crystals and cacao nibs exist in such great abundance that they create a coarse and crumbly texture with a frailty that makes the chocolate break up instantly. Not to despair, though, as the flavors develop immediately with lovely sweet rum as the introduction, which intensifies slightly but steadily throughout the length. A fruitiness similar to peaches and sweet pineapples emerges as well and accompanies the rum throughout the length. Faint cedar and butter notes emerge about ¾ of the way through to further add to the complexity. Finally, temptation wins over me, and so chewing the plethora of nibs ensues, which releases a sweet burst of cacao to accentuate and complement the wave of fruity rum that is gushing in my mouth. Actually, just imagine eating peaches glazed with a butter rum sauce and sprinkled with cacao nibs!

At first glance, this bar might appear to be merely a conglomeration of nibs coated in chocolate, but the flavor is easily detectable, strong, and full-forward on the senses. Quite unlike the usual red fruits typically found in Scharffen Berger’s other chocolate, this is much more reminiscent of a tropical paradise, perhaps more befitting anyway when considering its Caribbean origins. Understandably, the length suffers from such a dense jungle of nibs and so the chocolate melts fast leaving a pile of nibs in the mouth if you don’t chew enough during the melt. As a result, the chocolate seemed to crumble rather than melt, but his added an interesting yet appealing flair to the textural experience. While this bar may be slightly unconventional than the norm, its rusticity is just too enjoyable to evoke displeasure.

About the Author

Hans-Peter Rot



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