I am welcomed to the beautifully furnished waiting rooms at The New Chocolate Company by a friendly young woman called Niamh. She brings me a very welcome cup of tea and five of the most exquisite chocolates I have ever seen. Brian Dick – owner – pops his head in to tell me he’s finishing off something and will be with me asap. Okay, no problem. Time to dig in to the chocs! What should I go for? Saffron and raspberry, pear, salted caramel, coconut or… Iron-Brew? Seriously, Iron-Brew flavoured chocolate? I had to try it. It was unmistakably Iron-Brew flavour and it was sublime milk chocolate. I kid you not, it was AMAZING.
Scottish emblems are a big part of the New Chocolate Company’s ‘schtik’. Their ‘Highland’ range includes Thistle Coins, Thistle Bars, and ‘tiled’ bars which feature intricate imprints of a stag, a golden eagle and a highland cow. They are like mini works of art. Brian explains that these moulds are made exclusively for them in Belgium – the chocolate capital of Europe.
Attention to detail and a passion for excellence runs through everything The New Chocolate Company undertake from customer service to presentation and consistency of products. I’m told designing the elegant packaging took them through a period of more than 8 months. But how did they get here? How did this chocolate obsession begin?
In 2007 Brian and his wife (and co-founder of the business) Joanne decided – as a bit of fun – to go on a chocolate making course. This course was under the guidance of UK World Chocolate Master, Ruth Hinks. They were hooked! They attended more courses at the famous Callebaut Academy in Banbury, Oxfordshire. It was here that Brian and Joanne honed their craft and made the decision to start a business as chocolatiers. Brian tells me,
“Every company will say that quality is their stated aim, we believe there is so much more to it than that…”
The New Chocolate Company create top end, beautifully handcrafted, bespoke chocolate products using the finest ingredients mainly for sale to the corporate world. You can come to the premises and buy a box of chocolates or a bar, but they are not sold on the high-street. However, they do much more than just sell chocolate.
Where companies are running an exhibition, or hosting a stand at an exhibition, The New Chocolate Company can produce ‘Thistle Coins’ filled with ganache as giveaways. Flavours can be devised to suit the country or event at which the company are exhibiting – yuzu ganache for Japan for example or cardamom for Delhi for India. Brian tells me this with glee. It’s clear he will always go the extra mile to impress.
In September this year they launched a Chocolate Subscription Club for chocoholics everywhere, where a selection of chocolates are delivered regularly to your home or business.
They host Chocolate Tastings. These take place at a venue of the customer’s choice and allow a group of people to have a social evening tasting chocolate from different parts of the world. A deliciously decadent alternative to a gin or wine tasting. They also put on Team Building Days for businesses at the factory – which are in high demand, and Chocolate Making Classes for children – a popular birthday treat.
I’m given a walk through of the factory before I go. In the tempering room I watch mesmerized as Katrina (pastry chef) and Niamh (chocolatier and accountancy graduate) work on a miniature village made entirely of chocolate. It’s spectacular!
I had a wonderful time at The New Chocolate Company. Brian is a generous host (both in terms of his time and the extra chocolates I managed to wrangle to take back to HQ!) He’s full of passion for his company. It comes as no surprise to me that Visit Scotland, when attending a recent workshop incognito, awarded the company their highest accolade of five stars. There is no doubt they deserve it.