Another from-liquor chocolate from Red Star to add breadth to the range. Peru is by now becoming a familiar origin, particularly in the organic sector. Nonetheless, quality from other companies in past has been decidedly mixed; is this the result of excessive focus on the organic part, not enough on the chocolate part? Hopefully Red Star can do better, even if they in this case don’t have the ultimate capability to tune the flavour exactly as they might want. This is one chocolate, at least, where people are probably not going to be coming in with any pre-set conceptions of what it’s going to be like.
Alex Rast: 27-Nov-2010
Red Star continues a solid run with a really first-rate interpretation from liquor. This Peru is quite different from the ordinary and very spicy, bearing perhaps similarities to a Carenero Superior. Still, in the main, it’s actually a rather soothing, comforting bar, the kind you might like in wintertime – or indeed in hot chocolate, where, it must be said, one has reason to believe this chocolate might really sparkle. It is easily good enough to stand on its own, though, and rather like other Red Star chocolates manages to maintain interest where a lot of manufacturers fall flat. On the other hand, it’s nothing like any other Red Star bar; the style seems almost completely different, so this is the “odd man out” of the line.
A surprisingly light colour (in relative terms) suggests good things from this chocolate out of the wrapper, and the finish remains excellent if with a few hints of bubbles. Initially, the aroma is a bit unpromising, a sweet, cherry-cordial hint mixing with biscuit. But the next pairing, cinnamon and brown sugar, is not only inspired, but also takes the sensation in an entirely new direction, so that there is a very nice balance set up between fruity, earthy, spicy, and treacley aromas. Nonetheless, suggestions of woody and rubber in the finish do raise a bit of alarm; the bar looks to be well-interpreted, but there is a risk of flatness.
The flavour more or less echoes the aroma, starting out with that cherry cordial. The middle is a very soothing, pure chocolatey and sugary, pleasant without being cloying. Soon, however, the cinnamon flavour takes over almost completely, and it’s clear that this is the dominant flavour: all else disappears into obscurity other than a bit of a biscuitty background. Happily, the dreaded flatness never arrives, only perhaps a bit of a coconutty sensation in the finish, but not much to detract. It will be said that the flavour isn’t perhaps quite as harmonious as the aroma, overall, but it meets expectations, and has sustained interest.
Melt is very different from the usual Red Star approach, being slightly rough, even if it’s reasonably creamy. The same could be said of the flavour: very different from the usual Red Star. Is this because of the nature of the source? If so, maybe that’s a good thing; with this bar Red Star offers variety and interest for those perhaps not so keen on their usual dark, brooding, treacley flavours. It’s interesting that this bar should be so excellent where the milk bar from the same origin should be so poor. It looks very much as though Red Star put all their energy into the dark chocolates, with milk chocolate being almost an afterthought. Obviously the quality of the Peruvian origin can’t be faulted! This could be the bar that justfies the entire range, in the sense of lending context and contrast.