I always knew Shawn Askinosie was some sort of chocolate priest, so it comes as no surprise that he is literally a monk: He’s a family brother at a Trappist Cistercian monastery in the Ozarks.
That Trappist history of making artisan food (ok, beer and cheese in the past, but add chocolate to the list) inspired Askinosie Chocolate to launch its new microbatch line of only 1,098 bars. Why? Because the Cistertian Order was founded in 1098, duh.
I tried the first one this week, a 77% Whiskey Dark Chocolate Bar that blew my mind with its sweet, complex flavor and strong notes of whiskey. Askinosie took Tanzanian cocoa nibs and aged them in an oak whiskey barrel for 2 years, then ground the nibs for a week in their antique melangeur before adding sugar and cocoa butter.
The time, effort, and intensity shows. Other makers have turned out excellent barrel-aged bars (Fruition’s barrel-aged bourbon dark milk comes to mind), but the liquor is usually a more subtle afternote. Here it’s front and center, though transformed into something all its own.
I’m also crazy impressed with the beautiful bar itself: The giant “A,” the throwback Medieval-looking design. Even the pouch that it comes in, a simple muslin bag sewn by the monks at the monastery. The next bar in the series will be available in Fall 2016, which is a long time to wait for chocolate this good.
There are only 1,098 of these bars, and I have number 647. That means they’re more than half gone. I suggest you get on this whiskey trainimmediately, if not sooner.