50 States: Tennessee – Olive & Sinclair Southern Artisan Chocolate

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Already before I even started writing this post I found out that Olive & Sinclair have changed their packaging! I discovered this while grabbing some of their bars for a birthday gift because I almost didn’t recognize them on the shelf right away. Their new look still maintains a vintage feel, but rather than earth-toned colors like the picture above, they have brighter, more eye catching shades and it’s easier to distinguish which bar is which flavor. Check their online shop to see their updated looks if you can’t find them at a retail store near you.

I’ve tried Olive & Sinclair before, but at that time I had their Cinnamon Chili and Sea Salt bars. This time I’m trying their Salt & Pepper and (gasp) Buttermilk White bar. If you’ve been following Time To Eat Chocolate, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate. It’s usually too sweet for my taste.

BUT lately chocolate makers seem to be upping their game, or maybe I’m suddenly paying more attention to what’s out there for white chocolate. Amedei makes an amazing white chocolate with pistachio bar, as does La Naya (I’ll be sharing about them here soon). Fruition made a delicious strawberry white chocolate bar that had the perfect pink shade for cherry blossom season and I literally ate the whole bar within an hour.

Also, I recently read on C-Spot’s website that to determine the talent of a chocolate maker is to try their white chocolate since white chocolate uses cocoa butter, a product of the cacao bean. If the chocolate maker uses cocoa butter pressed directly from the cacao beans rather than purchased elsewhere, you can taste the flavor and quality of the cocoa butter better in white chocolate bars where you don’t have the rest of the cocoa solids there to distract your taste buds. How do you tell if the cocoa butter is of good quality? C-Spot says, “Over-roast, & it’s burnt & caustic; poor ferment – it sours & loses mouthfeel to astringency; insufficient drying – moldy or chalky.” If you’re curious, I recommend reading the rest of what they have to say about white chocolate and cocoa butter here.

Anyways, let’s get back to talking about Olive & Sinclair.

Olive & Sinclair is the only bean-to-bar/chocolate maker in Tennessee. Scott Witherow is the founder and began his journey making chocolate after visiting a chocolate producer in Canada and eating a pound of chocolate. Inspiration hit and he began making his own chocolate at home while his friends gave him feedback on his products. Olive & Sinclair began in 2007 and the name quickly spread when Gwyneth Paltrow made a large order.

The reason why the chocolate packaging has a vintage feel is because that was the look Scott liked and was going for. In general, he likes old things. At the time of this article, his form of a melanger began its life as a steam powered mill in Spain a hundred years ago. The appearance of his bars also help him blend in with the southern look that harkens back to the good ‘ol days. Southern Artisan Chocolate is the name of the bean-to-bar line under Olive & Sinclair.


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The cinnamon chili bar had some slight blooming. I could definitely smell cinnamon and chili though I tasted the cinnamon and sugar first. As the chocolate melted, I tasted, I tasted salt mixed with the cinnamon and sugar and the chili began to creep in. Saltiness was the strongest flavor midway through my bite, and “kosher salt” was included in the ingredients list. The bar a slightly gritty texture, though not as gritty as Taza. At the end of my bite, chili was the strongest and remained in the aftertaste. I could not taste the chocolate itself due to all the over flavors overpowering it. My boyfriend and his family joined me in tasting these bars. They said it tasted sweet at first and were hit by the chili at the end.

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The salt & pepper bar had a slight pepper and brown sugar scent (brown sugar was included in the ingredients list). I tasted salt first quickly followed by pepper, then the sweetness of brown sugar. I could taste the chocolate itself this time, which seemed to have roasted and caramel notes. The texture was a lot smoother. It wasn’t as salty or peppery as I thought it would be, which is great!


Even though this bar on the front is called buttermilk white, the ingredients list includes salt and black peppercorns. It also says unfiltered cacao butter. I can’t say I know the difference between cocoa butter and cacao butter. Is the unfiltered cacao butter freshly pressed out of the cacao beans while cocoa butter is purchased from another supplier? This bar smelled creamy, buttery and salty. I tasted the salt first and then sourness. Salt and sour flavoring remained throughout my bite. My boyfriend and his family also tasted sourness from this bar. Their other words to describe it were “citrus” and “yogurt.” But then I brought the rest of this bar to my workplace so my coworkers could try it, and one of them said it was the best white chocolate bar they ever had, so….


I’ve tried Olive & Sinclair’s sea salt bar before and I have to admit that out of their four varieties of bars I’ve tried, that sea salt one would be my top pick. I can’t say I was in love with the salt and pepper bars. The chili and cinnamon bar I didn’t mind, though I wish I could have tasted more of the chocolate itself.

Don’t forget to head over to Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see which state Trish will be covering next!

Olive & Sinclair: Made in Tennessee

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.


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