Once known as the Purist Selection, Hotel Chocolat renamed this tasting box to emphasise the origin of the cacao beans from the Rabot Estate, which was established 1745. It differs from other boxes, as instead of featuring truffles, it offers a range of bars, nibbles, and even tea infusions. The box is very nicely presented with a map on the inside to help you locate where the Rabot Estate is. The chocolates themselves are also wrapped very elegantly, making them look like a sophisticated treat. The bars in the box are informative as they state where they have been grown (St Lucia), when they were harvest, how long they were roasted for and at what temperature.
65% Supermilk Gin
Despite the name, the 65% Supermilk Gin is in fact alcohol free. The name refers to the juniper oil, which is used in the making of gin and gives off gentle hints of the spirit without the full on taste. This thick chocolate is filled with subtle floral notes. It is neither bitter nor sweet, and although it lacks the milkiness of a typical milk chocolate bar, it has a beautifully smooth texture. 8.5/10
78% Dark Saint Lucia
Described as containing notes of freshly pressed olives and tart red currants, it was only the latter that I was able to taste. Given the strong flavour olives have, I am surprised that these notes did not come through; it did, however provide a mild savoury and aromatic scent. The taste of currants gave the chocolate a warming tone and despite being 78% strength, there was no bitterness, and overall a satisfying bar. 8/10
Saint Lucia Island Growers 78% Caramel
A box of six truffles, the 78% cacao shell has a slightly medicinal taste and is filled with a meagre helping of salted caramel. The salt is very subtle, but it offsets the sweetness of the caramel and gives it a delicious sour flavour. It has a nice soft texture, but there simply is not enough to touch the sides, making the shell seem rather hollow. 6.5/10
Saint Lucian Beans
To my surprise, the Saint Lucian Beans turned out to be my favourite from the selection. I was expecting something very bitter, but instead the cacao beans were full of rich earthy notes. The beans provide a lovely rich fruity aroma of dark chocolate, and once the shell is broken away, the beans looks like tiny burnt pecans. They have a savoury taste that reminds me a bit of burnt toast and very mellow coffee. 9/10
Cocoa Infusion and Cocoa & Ginger Infusion
An alternative to tea, and apparently zero calories, these cocoa infusions are made from cocoa shells, which are contained in a beautiful silky teabag pouch. The gorgeous malty aroma coming from the pouch is very calming and rather therapeutic. The gorgeous malty aroma coming from the pouch is very calming and rather therapeutic. The latter’s ginger notes can be detected from more than a foot away.
To make the infusion drink, you simply brew the infusion in hot water for four minutes. I left mine in longer, but despite this, the drink provided no flavour and it just tasted like hot water.5/10
Saint Lucia Island Growers 100% Dark
The oaky aroma of this 100% dark chocolate has an earthiness to it, which is quite powerful with its full on smoky notes. There is a slight peppery after taste that comes through all the more strongly if followed by something else afterwards. The texture of the chocolate swells in the mouth, meaning that only a tiny morsel is required. It is a ‘love it or hate it’ kind of bar, one that takes quite a lot of getting used to, especially if your tastes veer more towards the milk chocolate variety. While I can appreciate the quality of the chocolate, due to its lack of bitterness and full-bodied flavours, it is not one that I would be going back to. 6/10