Olive & Sinclair Artisan Chocolate is a Sweet Find in Nashville
The exquisite taste of that perfect morsel of chocolate melting in your mouth is the ultimate decadence. To chocolate lovers around the world, whose quest for the most unforgettable chocolate is an ongoing pursuit, point your compass to a little artisan chocolate factory in East Nashville for the ultimate treat.
Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company, barely four-and-a-half years old and making artisan chocolate handcrafted by native Nashvillians, was born from the passion of founder, owner and chocolatier Scott Witherow.
Beginning in a basement in East Nashville and making maybe one batch of chocolate a week, this bean to bar chocolate maker is now turning out around 1600 hand-wrapped chocolate bars a day, using slow roasted, stone-ground beans mixed with only pure brown sugar. Today they are sold in 48 states, Canada, Singapore, Japan, England and Spain. In Nashville you can find them in local coffee shops and selected stores and delis. Can you think of anything better to go with a gourmet coffee?
The company recently moved to a 19th century renovated grocery store at 1628 Fatherland Street in East Nashville, decorated with vintage memorabilia to go with the antique equipment and the company’s vintage branding. The retail store is open to the public Thursday-Saturday, and on Saturdays the factory is open for tours every hour from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for $5, with free tasting included.
You’ll be hooked once this artisan chocolate melts in your mouth. Did I tell you the Bourbon Nib Brittle was my favorite? One piece was simply not enough. The cacao beans have local Nashville Corsair Artisan Distillery to thank for their kick.
They hang out in discarded Corsair oak barrels for six months, soaking up the bourbon flavor. Witherow and his team love to experiment with new flavors, blending them through careful temperature changes. Who would have thought of Salt & Pepper or Mexican Cinnamon Chili chocolate? They are all amazingly good. You’ll have to go try them yourself.
The cacao beans, from two small, family-owned sustainable farms in Ghana and the Dominican Republic, arrive in 300-pound sacks already sun-dried and fermented, ready for roasting.
They are first hand-sorted into buckets to remove fibers, stems and rubbish, then poured into a coffee roaster. The next process is winnowing, when the roasted bean is cracked and removed from the shell, leaving nibs – small particles of broken beans that are added to chocolate and brittle for extra texture. Nothing is wasted in the process. The super fine chocolate dust particles are sold to local breweries in a barter exchange for beer. Thistle Farms also recycles the nibs and shells into their line of soaps and lotions.
Jason, our tour guide and Witherow’s right hand man, leads us to an ancient stone mill that began life as a steam-powered mill in Spain over a hundred years ago. The slow-roasted beans are stone-ground into a liquid paste, ready for tempering and blending with various flavors. The chocolate is finally pressed into bars and hand-wrapped.
A special treat was sampling one of their newest products. The chocuterie is a chocolate log, sliced and served like salami. One of their flavors is blackberry and brioche, featuring Arrington Vineyards blackberry dessert wine. Delicious!
Scott Witherow admits it’s a dream come true to be working in a chocolate factory. He began working in restaurants at age 15 and pursued a career in the culinary world, which evolved from catering, to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in England, to pastry chef in Nashville’s elite restaurants. His experimentation with chocolate making led to the creation of his unique Southern Artisan Chocolate, and in 2009 he launched the Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Company.
Voted “America’s best chocolate” by Southern Living Magazine, Olive & Sinclair Chocolate is another great Tennessee success story – Southern Artisan Chocolate made right here in Nashville!
Do your own taste testing of Olive & Sinclair chocolate and let us know your favorite in the comments!