Right from the get-go, Askinosie chooses to convey a certain theme with their packaging, one that is supposed to have grassroots appeal but looks more like a police criminal file, complete with paper bag material, typewriter font, and blurred portrait of a farmer at the top. Jokes aside, though, Askinosie is serious about molding and tempering, showing a polished and very refined bar devoid of any flaw whatsoever. The aroma, too, is impressive and strong, unleashing blackberries and raspberries that scream lightness, oddly enough, but also a distinct crispness like Valrhonaâ€™s Manjari.
And like that famous Valrhona bar, the flavor is crisp, refreshing, and overall very unchallenging, bearing more similarity to a Madagascan than an Ecuadorian. Nonetheless, a subtle Arriba darkness is present far in the background while blackberries are prominent, too, as well as raspberries, both giving off a moderate sharpness like a fine sparkling wine or champagne. Texturally, the bar has one of the more refined consistencies for the origin, melting with some thickness as well, and for the most part devoid of dryness at the end that plagues this cacao so incessantly.
After tasting the Soconusco bar, one can make some pretty solid assumptions that Askinosie is treating these two cacaos very differently, with this one in particular dictated (presumably) by conservative roasting. This has got to be one of the lightest Ecuador Nacionals ever produced, defined by delicacy and crispness rather than the stout and bold persuasions that precedence has dictated thus far. Being a new kid on the block, Askinosie has nothing to lose by adopting this approach, and as mentioned in the Soconusco review, itâ€™s refreshing to see a chocolate makerâ€™s style guided by cacao type. Not to say that style adherence is bad, but learning and adaptability can be critical measures of success, opening possibilities where others may see obstacles.