Chocolate makers pop up all over the world. The bean to bar chocolate wave seems to have become a Tsunami. Daily I find out about new chocolate makers. When I visited Chocolate Heaven, an event in Maastricht – The Netherlands, I discovered some great looking bars made by Aelan. The immediately intrigued me, as Aelan is situated in Vanuatu – South Pacific. Chocolate makers aren’t abundant in the Pacific region. And even more interesting, Aelan only works with local cocoa from Vanuatu, an island group located between Australia and Fiji, deep in the Pacific. Aelan actually means Island in the local Bislama language.
The vulcanic island form special terroir for cocoa, responsible for rich and complex flavors. The flavor notes are different from island to island and Aelan tries the capture these specific notes in their chocolate. By working together with the cocoa growing communities and help improving the fermentation and drying techniques, Aelan helps Vanuatu to shine as a cocoa origin.
Today we review their Island of Santo origin bar, one of the bigger islands in the archipelago.
The bar comes in a colorful package. A cocoa aquarel painting decorates the cardboard sleeve. It shows the maker’s logo, the origin – Island of Santo, the batch number. A hand made in Vanuatu logo shows this is an artisan product and a Silver award sticker from the 2017 New Zealand chocolate awards set high expectations. Flipping the package over, you will find the nutritional info, the ingredients (70% cacao beans and 30% sugar) and the best before date.
Inside, a golden foil and the actual bar. It is molded in a very popular design. Still looks good. However, Aelan pours the chocolate generously thick. At some points, the bar is almost 8 millimeters.
It delivers an enticing smell.
Bean: Not mentioned
Origin: Vanuatu – Island of Santo
Maker: Aelan – Vanuatu
Price: € 5,5 – 45 g
Batch: Best before September 2019 – Batch S 24117
Color: Dark brown
Aroma: sweet dried yellow fruits, a touch of earthy cocoa, roasted bread
Taste: A swift and sweet start with lots of chocolate notes flowing in. Very slowly, gentle fruitiness emerges and keeps popping up through the river of lush cocoa. Sweet honey and fruits such as dried figs and apricot turn to peach,grapes and ripe berries in an ever changing flow of subtle changes. They help guide the flavor river towards a meandering towards the end of the melt. Just as you think the flavor won’t change anymore, vanilla twinkles for a second, before roasted nuts and some very gentle tannins race over the palate. The after flavor remains vivid in the mouth, focusing on cocoa and roasted nuts and crispy caramel cookies/
The chocolate is very inviting and smooth, lush and flavorful. It offers a lot of complexity, while being very gentle and harmonious in nature. The delicate fruits combine perfectly with the cocoa and create a multidimensional flavor. It has a sweet and golden profile, warm and seducing.
Aelan’s bar feels a bit thicker in the mouth than usually and isn’t super smooth, yet it doesn’t film the mouth or become clingy. It has an enjoyable melt.
An interesting piece of chocolate if you ask me.