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"Finally," I hear you cry. Yes, it finally happened. I met the grandfather of bean-to-bar chocolate making in the UK, Duffy Sheardown. This legend is part of the UK chocolate scene's royalty, and I've received plenty of messages urging me to review some of his work.
So, I picked up a 70% Guatemala Rio Dulce Dark Chocolate bar, promising "a hint of honey and blackcurrant with an earthiness and peppery spice finish."
I sat down and tucked into this vegan-friendly four-ingredient chocolate bar, ready for a roller-coaster ride of flavours.
The tan-coloured packaging features a large Duffy's Fine Chocolate logo at the top, with a graphic that sits behind. "Guatemala Rio Dulce" sits just above massive 70% text at the bottom. An Academy of Chocolate gold 2016 award badge from sits next to this.
A few highlights sit at the bottom, that explain this artisan bean-to-bar chocolate is crafted with directly traded single-origin Criollo cocoa beans. The tasting notes of "spiced honey" sit at the very bottom.
On the reverse there's a more detailed tasting guide, that highlights an earthy chocolate with notes of honey and blackcurrant, and a peppery spice finish.
The minimal ingredients list follows, along with the nutritional information.
Duffy's Fine Chocolate 70% Guatemala Rio Dulce Dark Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin. Cocoa solids: 70% minimum.
This vegan-friendly chocolate bar contains around 30% sugars. It's soya-free and gluten-free.
To the bottom of the packaging is a set of instructions for maximum appreciation of this chocolate:
- Slowly unwrap
- Smell the aroma
- Savour fine chocolate
Duffy's Fine Chocolate 70% Guatemala Rio Dulce Dark Chocolate Bar Review
A best before / batch number sticker seals the rear of the outer carton closed. Peeling this back allows the carton to unfold to reveal a lot of content to read as you are savouring your chocolate - just the way chocolate packaging should be.
Here, you'll find Duffy's story on how - and why - he sources his beans through Xoco. There's also a list of Academy of Chocolate and International Chocolate Awards achievements this bar has secured. There's some details about Duffy's business ethics, as well as detailed tasting notes and a guide on how to truly taste this chocolate.
This chocolate was aged for three months prior to moulding, to morph the flavours from a harsh pepperiness to a complex spiced honey.
The bar itself is hand-wrapped in gold-coloured foil, making it easy to reseal for freshness. Both the card outer and the foil inner can be easily recycled at home.
The 60g bar itself is cast using a bespoke mould that depicts the Duffy's logo against a chequered flag background. The smooth sections have a lovely shine to them.
Peeling back the foil wrapper reveals smokey notes with hints of spicy tobacco and leather. It's a heady aroma that is dark and mysterious, inviting you to take a bite. A clean, crisp snap draws you in closer.
Don't let the predominantly smokey aroma fool you, as the tasting is far smoother. It begins with notes of plump, juicy raisins and tropical pineapple notes that morph into a fragrant sweet honey. There's hints of lemon, banana, and apricot, too. It's a comforting journey of flavour that leans towards tropical vibes.
The aftertaste is mellow, with hints of banana and passion fruit creeping through at the end. There's a mild peppery finish that sits just below this.
This is a perfect example of how chocolate aromas don't always correlate to flavour. The aroma here is heady and intense, but the flavour is surprisingly more refined, more nuanced, and far more tropical-themed than expected. It may well be a dark chocolate but it tastes sweet and creamy, so doesn't behave in the way you might expect a 70% bar to act.
Duffy's Fine Chocolate 70% Guatemala Rio Dulce Dark Chocolate Review
RRP: £6.95 | Duffy's Fine Chocolate | Shop now
Farmed in Guatemala and crafted in Lincolnshire, this is an utterly delicious 70% dark chocolate bar that crams in a diverse medley of tropical flavours during the melt. This bar is for savouring, and it will tempt you back again and again. This isn't an intimidating chocolate, walloping you with bold and uncomfortable flavours. Instead, this is a chocolate expertly crafted to take you on a gentle meander through paradise.
Where to Buy Online
You can find this bar, along with the remainder of the range, over a Duffy's website here (£6.95). I believe the packaging has been restyled since my purchase.
As you'd expect from the grandfather of bean-to-bar chocolate in the UK, this bar is stocked widely and is available at stockists including Cocoa Runners (£6.95), Copperhouse Chocolate (£6.50), and Chocolate Seekers (£6.95), amongst others.
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Which bar is your favourite in the Duffy's range? Let me know what I should be sampling next in a comment below.