August 23rd: Hotel Chocolat Rum Sultanas / Amaretto Sultanas

Lets start today off with a pop quiz :D - who knows the difference between a sultana and raisin? Answers on postcards please, preferably backdated to last week to before I had googled the answer below ...

"In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand the word raisin is reserved for the dried large dark grape, with sultana being a dried large white grape, and currant being a dried small Black Corinth grape"

You learn something new each day don't you - glorious Wikipedia!! So why am I going off on a random one about sultanas and raisins? It's because today I am reviewing some liqueur flavoured sultanas from Hotel Chocolat.

Hotel Chocolat are between seasons at the moment, so my contacts there offered me the chance to fill the seasonal void with some more samples from their 'little things' standard range. These Rum Sultanas and Amaretto Sultanas both came in 150.0g cardboard tubs that must have contained approximatelly 20-30 pieces in each. This style of packaging hasn't ever been a favourite of mine when it comes to Hotel Chocolat (See Ginger Tangs review). Not only do I not think it looks as aesthetically premium as some of their other offerings (their slabs etc), but also if you plan on eating the contents across anything more than a few days the cardboard material doesn't do many wonders for retaining freshness. Minor packaging gripes aside, the raisins and sultanas looked more appealing, and both radiated strong boozie chocolatey scents when I first opened them up. Below are my brief thoughts on each.

Hotel Chocolat Amaretto Sultanas - These came described as 'sultanas soaked in Amaretto, covered in milk chocolate and almonds'. Out of the two dried fruit products on offer today these were the larger in size, with some pieces being twice as large as the rum alternatives. My experiences with Hotel Chocolat liqueur flavoured chocolates have been a little mixed over the past few months, and I'm afraid to say that these were a little unbalanced when it came to how strongly the amaretto came over in the taste. The milk chocolate, plump juicy sultanas and small bits of almond did initially create a myriad of fruit, nut and chocolate flavour influences, however these were masked by the introduction of the amaretto which didn't take long in dominating the other constituents. The overall effect of the amaretto was detrimental to the taste for my liking, but then again I'm not great fan of the liqueur itself.

Hotel Chocolat Rum Sultanas - These came billed as 'sultanas soaked in Jamaican rum covered in milk chocolate'. As I have mentioned above these were noticeably smaller in size, which I found a little puzzling given that the only major difference between the two products were that these didn't have the small bits of almond nut in their coating. Suffice to say I didn't let this perturb me and I'm glad to say I was a little more receptive of these rum flavoured ones. Similarly to the above, the exterior milk chocolate and inner fruit fast established a sugary sweet taste that was well compounded by the fresh feeling sensation that the sultanas created when bitten in to. Like the amaretto, the rum was similarly forthcoming in the taste, however the sweet fruity hints that were present amongst it's boozie flavours complimented the other constituents better than the more startling alcoholic hit of the other spirit. Out of the two I found that these were the ones I was keener on and I finished the tub long before the amarettos.

Overall neither of these would ever be classified in a list of my all time favourite Hotel Chocolat products, but I have to hand it to them for taking a pretty dull product concept of chocolate coated dried fruit and making it somewhat interesting. The added 'interest' was admittedly just a large dose of alcohol for both products, which landed with mixed success. Lets face it though, this made the propositions far more exciting than they would have been had they just been plain. Out of the two my preference lay with the rum sultanas, though when I sampled them on my parents they said they were too sweet and gobbled the rest of the amaretto in super fast time. All-in-all they may not be the most exciting things that Hotel Chocolat have to offer but I wouldn't discount them from your thoughts entirely. If boozie flavoured chocolates are your sort of thing then these are certainly going to be worth you taking a look at if you also like chocolate covered fruits.

Hotel Chocolat Amaretto Sultanas - 7.5 out of 10
Hotel Chocolat Rum Sultanas - 8.0 out of 10