Not long ago I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted at the door by a courier carrying a box from Italy. Yes, finally Simon from Stainer came good! Among the numerous beautifully packaged bars (and there are plenty) I found this quartet of 50g ‘alcoholic’ bars. Three of the four are 45% ‘milk’ chocolate, and all are blended with one sort of booze or another.
Unlike the other Stainer bars I have seen (many of which are now due for review) these bars use photographs rather than the beautiful paintings that normally adorn the boxes. I suppose the idea is that these are ‘real’ flavours rather than those designed to evoke a certain region or culture. (You’ll get my drift when I start reviewing those bars later).
The Champagne bar was the first one I tried, and it smelled surprisingly sweet, rather like a champagne sorbet. The chocolate flavours are excellent, borderline ‘dark’ tastes of vanilla and cocoa, slightly woody and very well balanced. The mouthfeel is a little grainy at times (I suspect the flavourings or sugar) but overall a very pleasant, light flavoured bar which does indeed deliver the taste of champagne.
The Irish Coffee bar certainly lets you know what to expect. It has an incredibly strong coffee/alcohol aroma and as soon as you pop a square into your mouth your tastebuds are hit with the two flavours. Lots of strong whiskey taste sitting above a reasonable coffee undertone. Again, slightly grainy and a little too sweet for my palate, but a pretty good facsimile of the drink it’s trying to emulate.
My third bar was the Mulled Wine, or ‘Vin Brulée’ bar. It’s flavoured with cinammon, cloves and vanilla, as well as the wine tastes and it’s the cloves that hit the nose first. Not being a great fan of the clove, I wasn’t expecting to like this one much, and as I popped the square into my mouth I could taste little else at first. However, resisting the urge to give up (i.e spit the blighter out), I bit into the chocolate and allowed it to start melting, at which point the citrus of the lemon flavour came and saved me from more clove nastiness. I’m not sure where the wine was in all of this – my friends the cloves were definitely out in front all the way.
The final bar of the quartet was also the only dark chocolate bar, a 70% cocoa chocolate blended with Rum. I was a little surprised to find that the chocolate didn’t reek of rum (like the Irish Coffee one had) but instead I could smell quite complex woody, leathery notes in the cocoa. Of course, once it was in my mouth the rum flavours came out to play, adding a sharpness and an almost citrus tang to the overall taste. If anything, the texture of this bar was grainier than the previous three, and the rum flavours all but obliterated the chocolate tastes until the last morsels were melting away. A little over the top for me, this one.