Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (70%; Lot #3/41/92)
Strain Nacional   (Semi-)
Source Ecuador   
Flavor Crossover   
Style Retro-American      
Oh, Guayas, it’s been awhile... like just a couple weeks ago. As New Taste of Chocolate author Marìcel Presìlla likes to say, “oh, no, not another Ecuador”. Which is pretty much all we know of this bar's provenance since Art Pollard at Amano remains covetous about sources -- part & parcel to pervasive chocolate secrecy that has become so pandemic nowadays it reaches the level of stealth.

And yet, it’s better than it used to be.

To find out the inside backstory once required Blackwater forces in Special Ops Command outposts (or ‘lily pads’ as they call them) who are given rolling security clearances above their approved clearances. Using Alternative Compartmentalized Control Measures (ACCMs), Blackwater is subcontracted by the US Gov’t to perform all sorts of ‘darkest acts’ (such as ‘lethal direct action missions’) granting it entrée to a Special Access Program -- the bureaucratic term for highly classified "black" operations.

"With an ACCM, the security manager can grant access to you to be exposed to & operate within compartmentalized programs far above 'secret'--even though you have no business doing so," an inside source explained to The Nation magazine. It allows Blackwater contractors that "do not have the requisite security clearance or do not hold a security clearance whatsoever to participate in classified operations by virtue of trust. Think of it as an ultra-exclusive level above top secret... a circle of love."

Better still, Blackwater accesses "all source" info that “top policy-makers don't..." &, because of their secret mandate, they're shielded from oversight! Should matters get out of hand (RE: a bloody mess) an OGA (Other Government Agency) indentifies the wildcat culprit & renders him – “we rendered him home."

All part of the pandora’s box in Washington DC.

Transparency anyone? It'll take more than a belief to change that.

Or is this just the price of effective action... & decent chocolate?
Appearance   4.4 / 5
Color: races the heart (could this be the real deal?): dark brown struck in purple-rouge for overall fuchsia
Surface: clean print; dull & dimpled on the back
Temper: adequate bounce-back
Snap: buttoms down tightly; striated edge (both forecast the Texture)
Aroma   7.3 / 10
a perfumed outhouse: thickly bletted, sticky & candied -> then marine-like (ocean ions, mullosks & boat diesel) -> goes green at the bottom (both forest herbs [evergreen] & seaweed [dulse]) -> manure & compost; all told, a strange mix until it opens up to vibrant cocoa, roasted hazelnut, & subtle geranium; anticipation back on course
Mouthfeel   11.8 / 15
Texture: powderful; mid-weight
Melt: smooth even-flow, even a bit slow & phlegmatic; stringent grapnel (an Ecuador staple) for the ending
Flavor   43.8 / 50
dry cocoa to chocolate -> ash w/ soft bottom bitter -> slow developing black-fig more than blackberry -> stone granite (a little roughshod)... on the backside of which the bar juices pomegranate -> returns to stone in the guise of undercooked bean tones (vaquero aka orca) + cassava -> skids out on a green banana peel; vanilla rules in the after-reach, directing some greens (similar to rue) & an exotic bamboo (seen in Amano’s Jembrana), sangre de drago, & a final touch-me-not Impatiens... in many respects the peak of the experience
Quality   16.6 / 20
Tries valiently to turn back the clock to a time when 'Arriba’ stood for noble cacáo trees. Amano remains ever evasive & jealously vigilant over the precise location of its sources (Guayas for Ecuador is about the same as 'somewhere in Texas' for the USA). But there’s no escaping the reality jolt delivered by some non-Nacionals in this mix (or at least diluted EETs).

Nothing really pops or jumps out; stays streamline as it progresses thru the length. The individual components lie for the most part in repose, the fruited notes so diffuse / almost flat & very lateral across the palate, missing depth. Yet overall intensity hits rather high. None of the euphorics, for example, in Domori’s Ecuadors from vintages past (best exhibited by the de Bondt 90%) nor even the sweet-spot of Kallari’s recent 75% with less sugar (though both this bar & that one share a hankering for vanilla). Instead it recalls some of the wilderness found in Coppeneur’s Tsáchili &, more on point, Askinosie’s empanada bar San Jose del Tambo from the same origin (which alpha-tasters will noodle over with ‘oooo, the minerality’). So, a generalized Nacional tone in any event pervades this Guayas.

All of which relates this Guayas as a kind of spirit cousin to Amano’s own Montanya bar from a different country – Venezuela. (Hope this, BTW, presents enough bar references for the super-geeks to flex their taste-bud muscles; ya know, the ones who grumble about reviews leaving them "uniformed".) Neither too unfriendly nor totally unrefined though somewhat underdeveloped, Amano’s coming into definition as a rough-hewn Western gaucho who wears an embroidered jacket when he rides in search of brown-gold. Witness the campfire roasts (nothing really burnt, just a little soot), the Texture (sub-conched), & the stone-washed chocolate Flavor.

Amano Art Pollard knows what goes.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cacáo butter, vanilla; CBS (Cocoa Mass/Butter/Sugar ratio): ~2/4/3

Reviewed Autumn 2010


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