The first time I came across Ritual Chocolate, I regretted that I probably wouldn't be getting anymore of their products. Fast forward almost three years and a new shop, Regency Modern, in Old Town Scottsdale has a full supply of Ritual Chocolate bars. Enter much jubilation: normally I don't have access to a lot of artisan chocolate companies, so I end up being limited to the stray one found here or there, not to a full line within arm's reach whenever I want more.
The design is beautiful and comes in the same style as before except with the addition of simple geometric shapes and illustrations. This is the Juniper Lavender Chocolate, so we see mini butterflies hovering around the lavender. The monochromatic, purple design keeps it classy versus chaotic.
While the card box is in the same style as before, this time there is more info on the inside leaves about the chocolate process and the flavor notes. There is even a space to write down tasting notes. The light gloss to the paper probably isn't well-suited for writing: a pencil won't make enough of an imprint and most pens will smear. But I guess even if you don't use the space, it's meant to get you thinking.
Darker in color than it looks in the picture, the surface of the chocolate has no visible inclusions on either the front or back. Aroma-wise, it could be that I'm so immune to lavender after using so many lavender products and consuming it in so many forms, but I only pick up a semisweet dark chocolate scent. Breaking the chocolate reveals a good snap and consistency.
Initially, I get an earthy sort of flavor, then the lavender comes in, and then more of the dark chocolate. Past the halfway point, the chocolate gets sweeter somehow--but not in the sense of sugar sweetness. It's more of a floral sweetness. The lavender becomes the flavor of lavender candy rather than the strong, peppery sort of lavender taste that you might come across elsewhere. It's still a fresh sort of lavender, though.
Again, having had a lot of lavender products, I would describe this one as not being super strong on the lavender. (And I don't mind it being very strong.) The inclusion of the juniper berries is what makes it quite unique. The juniper does indeed call to mind the mountains; it isn't like a breath of pine, but rather something softer. The poetic description that the chocolate's finish "lingers on the tongue and conjures up the scent of a high mountain meadow" is not an exaggeration. It's quite literal. The flavor inclusions here do take you on a journey, for which the chocolate provides a worthy base and vehicle. My high expectations are not disappointed.