This is a superb Arriba chocolate, perhaps the archetpye of this cacao. It demonstrates an unyielding power and well-balanced character that clearly shows Slitt’s mastery over this bean.
Alex Rast: 10-Oct-2005
The definitive Ecuador Arriba. With a strongly characteristic nature, it might inspire mixed feelings in those who shy away from the assertive Arriba presence, but all others will be very pleased. Not only does this bar show how it’s done for this bean, it shows how it’s done in the extra bitter class. A study in letting the bean shine through while maintaining just enough sweetness that it’s not austere.
Just as one expects from an Arriba, this bar displays the textbook purple-black colour, an extreme darkness that you can see through the wrapper (something of a chore to remove, in a case of poor packaging). The bar itself is a bit unevenly moulded and has some bubbling, but is finished to a superb temper. The aroma shouts Arriba with every breath. It prevails over you with mighty blackberry presence and with that slight woodiness that is almost as if you’d just trampled through a bramble patch in the middle of a wood. There’s not much complexity here, however, it’s the single-bean character that is coming to the fore.
The flavour is a display of balance and superb interpretation. First it has a burst of delicate strawberries and cream, and then it kicks into high gear with a powerful chocolatey wave accented with pecan traces. There is some decided bitterness here, coming not just from the low sugar but also from the bean type itself. But the small amount of sugar counterpoints the power and allows the chocolate to avoid a flat, uninspiring presentation.
The texture is likewise superb, as one expects with chocolates of this percentage where low sugar and high cocoa butter prevent anything from interfering with a very creamy melt. It’s also super-smooth, fairly typical for Slitti. However, in the past Slitti has had a reputation for being somewhat mild and passive in flavour – unassertive chocolate for those not looking to be assaulted. Not so with this bar which is everything Slitti usually is not – assertive, bold, and powerful – just what one wants from the Arriba bean.
Hans-Peter Rot: 9-Oct-2005
If Arriba already were an intimidating looking bar, at 90% it looks even more so, and SlittiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s masterful temper and mold make the visual appeal all the more magnificent. Continuing this trend, the aroma is simply seductive yet ironically sweet in some regards, as blackberries dominate with hints of cinnamon and sweet coffee. Despite the power behind the aroma, however, something about it is sweeter than one would expect, that perhaps at 90% the bar might not be as strong as the percentage suggests.
This is an assumption one should never make! The chocolate is bold beyond belief, weighing down the tongue like a ton of bricks, so powerful and deep this tone is. Sweet cinnamon starts off the flavor, though, then mellows into tropical fruits and finally the blackberries we all know and love from Arriba with some floral highlights as well, but for the most part, the bar is intense and chocolaty, with blackberries dominating but not in an aggressive way.
At this level, the texture is dead-on pasty and thick, melting at such a reluctant speed that the intensity is made even more intense. At long last, the definitive Arriba has arrived, and delivered by none other than Slitti, who with a 90% shows how to treat this varietal: with force. Force, then, seems to be the key to achieving great things with this cacao, since at this level the cacaoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s natural intensity is maximized and the flavor components kept at a minimum without much concern over complexity or fancy embellishments. A lesson is to be learned here, but at such an inaccessible percentage, sadly, many may not pay attention.