Known for making the most expensive chocolate in the world, To’ak produces small editions of single-origin Ecuadorian dark chocolate from the oldest and rarest variety of cacao on earth.
The ground-breaking company based in Ecuador is also pioneering the art and science of aging chocolate in barrels and various other mediums. And now, at long last, To’ak is releasing two new limited editions, both of which have been many years in the making: Single Malt Islay Cask Matured, which was aged for two years in a Laphroaig Scotch whisky cask ($355 per 50-gram bar), and their terroir-driven labor of love, El Niño Harvest 2016 ($275 per 50-gram bar).
To’ak’s Single Malt Islay Cask Matured dark chocolate is a marriage made in heaven for whiskey connoisseurs and chocolate enthusiasts alike. As it turns out, the co-founders of To’ak Chocolate are also unabashed devotees of Scotch whisky—particularly, the peaty single malts of Islay, the most storied whiskey-producing region in Scotland. After sourcing a cask from Laphroaig, one of Islay’s most iconic distilleries, co-founders Carl Schweizer and Jerry Toth undertook the task of marrying Ecuador’s most precious dark chocolate with Scotland’s most charismatic whiskey.
Chocolate makers following in the footsteps of whisky makers: wine and whisky makers have been aging their chocolate in barrels for hundreds of years. This time-honored (and highly strategic) practice is now making its way into the chocolate industry. Meet the chocolate makers who are pioneering the practice.
“Delicately infused with the peat and smoke of an Islay whiskey, the caramel and fruit notes of the chocolate come through on the other side, imbued with a savory breath of fresh air that is unlike anything we’ve ever tasted before, anywhere,” says Toth. Schweizer adds, “More than simply producing an interesting and unorthodox dark chocolate, the result of this union is surprisingly seductive.”
Akin to a once-in-a-decade vintage from Burgundy, To’ak’s El Niño Harvest 2016 is the progeny of one of Ecuador’s most tumultuous cacao growing seasons in living memory. It survived the second most intense El Niño rains in recorded history followed suddenly by a severe drought during the critical ripening period, punctuated with the most destructive earthquake to hit Ecuador in sixty-five years. At the very end of the season, To’ak managed to harve st a small crop of cacao that battled through war to reach maturity. Schweizer attributes the phenolic richness of this edition to the wild weather extremes the cacao trees were forced to adapt to during the course of the year. “This edition announces itself with a burst of flowers on the nose and a play of jasmine, wet forest, buttery citrus, ripe banana and dark fruit on the palate, with a subtle underlying touch of mint and eucalyptus throughout the entire ride,” says Toth.
Both editions are available for online purchase at www.toakchocolate.com, as well as at limited specialty retailers, including Harrod’s (London), 2 Beans (New York), Wally’s Wine & Spirits (Los Angeles), and Holly Boutique (Shanghaicity, China).
ABOUT TO’AK: To’ak’s cacao beans are sourced from the last relics of history’s most cherished heirloom cacao variety, called Nacional, from Ecuador. Each bar of single-origin dark chocolate is packaged in a handcrafted Spanish Elm wood box with the individual bar number engraved on the back. The bar is accompanied by special tasting utensils and a 116-page booklet. To’ak (pronounced toe Ahk) is derived from a fusion of ancient Ecuadorian dialects, meaning “earth” and “tree,” which together represent the true source of all chocolate. A native of Chicago, To’ak co-founder Jerry Toth relocated to Ecuador in 2006, where he co-founded a nonprofit rainforest conservation in the famed cacao-growing province of Manabí. His work developing sustainable agroforestry projects in Manabí quickly converted into a passion for organic cacao farming. Jerry later joined forces with Carl Schweizer, an Austrian expatriate and long-time transplant to Ecuador, and together they created To’ak Chocolate. Their mission is to change the way the world experiences dark chocolate, elevating it’s making and tasting onto the level of vintage wine and aged whiskey. To’ak’schocolate is Organic and Fair Trade certified.
For more information visit http://toakchocolate.com