Richard's Rating: 5.0 (previously **+)
Although Mast Brothers has no distribution in Washington State, I was able to taste this chocolate thanks to the generosity of Lauren Adler, the owner of Chocolopolis (a fantastic Seattle chocolate store with a huge selection of artisan chocolate bars -- most of them available for purchase online in the continental US). While in Brooklyn last summer, she purchased some Mast Brothers chocolate from their factory and still had some of the Grand Cru and Madagascar bars. When I mentioned to her that I was interested in trying their chocolate, she generously offered me hers. Unfortunately, it was quite hot while she was walking around the day she purchased them (temperatures in the 90s), so the chocolate ended up blooming and this review is somewhat inaccurate due to those heat effects.
Grand Cru is made from organic cacao beans from Patanemo, Venezuela. The chocolate had a hard snap that revealed unusual striations (perhaps also due to heat exposure). The inside color was a medium brown Bracken, but could well have been distorted by the bloom, as the surface was.
This bar had a strong aroma of a complex spice, of which the only one I could identify was cinnamon. There was also an earthy smell of mold and leather that I found somewhat unpleasant. Here are the flavors I experienced: roast, nut, spice, hints of fruit and sweet. The melt was smooth, the length short, and the finish left me with a slightly acidic aftertaste.
Overall, I rated this bar **, but added a + because I suspect that it would be better fresh. I intend to taste Grand Cru again in the future, as well as the entire line of Mast Brothers pure chocolate bars.
On the Mast Brothers website, there is a list of retailers where you can purchase their chocolate. They also have a link to an online retailer that sells some Mast Brothers chocolate bars for $8.50 each, but they do not carry Grand Cru. You can purchase Grand Cru online in the UK at The Chocolate Society for £8.95.