This year's chocolate tasting was once again a veritable celebration of Swiss Chocolate, but with a few surprises.
Gilgen, the Swiss maker from Basel takes the crown again for Milk. The second and third places in milk went to standby favorite Lindt. Fourth place was the upstart however: Butlers Milk Chocolate, from Ireland. An old hand at chocolate making (since 1932) but new to this tasting, Butler's has notes of caramel and a smooth melt.
In the Medium Dark (under 70%) category was also swept by Switzerland, with Gilgen taking the lead there too. Patrizia Dungglischoggi another Swiss maker took second place. Schwarze Herren's Edelbitter, a German supermarket staple which always does well, placed third. Cailler Cremant from Switzerland, another frequent winner, took fourth place.
The biggest contest is always in the 70%+ Dark category, and this year we have several surprising results here. Marks and Spencer, the british grocer, produced this year's wining dark bar, in Italy, which is a first for Italian chocolate. Trader Joe's Swiss Dark took the second place, again proving itself the best chocolate you can buy in the US. Interestingly, Trader Joe's Swiss Dark is made in the Villars factory in Switzerland, and the Villars Noir bar placed fifth in this tasting. In years past, Villars has beat out the Trader Joe's re-branded bars. This year, freshness may be a factor, as the Villars bar was poured 4 months before the tasting (it had to be hand carried from Switzerland), but the Trader Joe's bar was produced just a month before the tasting.
The other winners in the 70%+ Dark category were Divine, the German bar which does well every year (and is available in the US!) in third place, and Sainsbury's Belgian Dark, another British supermarket chocolate, in fourth.
Finally, in the 75%+ Dark category, we have an American chocolate taking the crown. Balao, by Ritual Chocolate from Denver, Colorado. For the complete results, check out this spreadsheet here.
Huge thanks to Madleina for providing most of the chocolate for this year's tasting (hand carried from the EU), and to our 50 tasters, who completed 1597 chocolate tastings over 8 hours.