January 30, 2011

Mast Brothers – Madagascar 72%

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Written by: Stuart Robson

I must admit that my expectations were high when it came to tasting this bar, everything about the philosophy that the Mast Brothers try to follow appeals to me and I had only heard good things. However with such a lot to live up to, this bar was going to have to be rather special.

I don’t normally comment on packaging but this time I will as the bar is really very beautifully presented in a heavy gram printed paper that has clearly been folded with great care. Inside, the bar is cased in gold foil, always my personal preference, and within the foil the finish is of a very high standard with a red brown colour, very little swirling and no bubbling to speak of.

It is on the nose that things really kick off though, and it is perhaps the most perfectly articulate set of aromas I have come across in any chocolate. Initially there is a lively mix of strawberry and raspberry jam with a contrasting earthy, almost toasty component running through the back. Slowly some typically Madagascan citrus notes start to build with lime and a little orange rind; impossible to fault.

 On the palette it is the earthy note that makes the first appearance but it is quickly overtaken by grassy touches, sharp grapefruit and some winey fermentation-like aromatics. Moving into the mid palette it is all fruits, firstly lime and mixed citrus peel, and then the most perfectly measured surge of slightly sharp raspberry jam leading us into the finish. It becomes more tannic and slightly woody now but the fruits continue to fight through, a truly exceptional profile which only improves with each bite.

Texturally this bar certainly takes a different direction to the often ultra-refined world of fine chocolate, and this is only to be expected given the manner in which these beans have been processed. The snap is slightly dull and the mouth feel rather grainy and a touch fudgey in the melt. However, I can’t help but feeling that, had this bar seen a more rigorous treatment, it might have lost some of the clarity in its impeccably demonstrative set of aromas.

A truly stunning and eye-opening chocolate from a small craft orientated company; intense, balanced, representative of the beans used and, to this reviewers taste…near enough perfect.

The Mast Brothers quite rustic, unbranded finish.

About the Author

Stuart Robson
Stuart Robson is a passionate foodie born in Scotland and based in Hertfordshire whose main expertise lies in the world of whisky and chocolate. He first began tasting fine chocolate in 2005 with Valrhona Manjari and has since developed a particular interest in single origin bars and a desire to highlight skilled cacao farmers and artisan producers all over the world. Stuart previously trained in Paris while working for a fine chocolatier, and has since become a reviewer for Seventypercent. He is still involved in freelance consultation for small companies working with bean-to-bar chocolate producers and chocolatiers.



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