We first heard about Cacao Reserve chocolates, the new premium line from Hershey's, a couple of weeks ago. It is the first Hershey's-branded premium chocolate line, since up until this point, all of the gourmet products from the company have been produced by Scharffen Berger or Joseph Schmidt Confections, the two luxury chocolate brands that Hershey's acquired. Cacao Reserve is all-natural and, like so many other new chocolates, is categorized by cacao percentage, not just "milk" or "dark." They seem to carry the full line, although I did not see the "country of origin" bars (with beans from specific countries, at Target and I picked up a couple bars to try.
The three I chose were 35% cacao milk chocolate, 65% Extra Dark Chocolate and 65% Extra Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs. Each of the bars was 1.3-ounces and contained four squares of chocolate, just the right size for a snack at about 200 calories each. I began with the darks.
The 65% chocolate was the same with and without the cacao nibs. It was very smooth and rich, with an appealing "snap" to it that I usually associate with freshness in chocolate. The chocolate wasn't too sweet and had a bright cocoa flavor with lots of fruity notes. Unfortunately, it did leave a somewhat bitter/earthy aftertaste that I wasn't particularly fond of. It was more noticeable in the bar with the cacao nibs, but I suspect that it would have been far less noticeable if I had been drinking something (soda, coffee, etc) when I tasted the chocolate. The cacao nib bar also could have used a few more nibs, as the crunch that I anticipated (spoiled by the tasty peaces from last week), was somewhat lacking. I would buy this one again to make sure that I didn't get an "off" bar with the aftertaste in this batch.
At 35% cacao, the milk chocolate is on the very low end of the chocolate intensity scale and, as I expected, it was very milky and sweet. Although it was smooth, I didn't feel that there was enough chocolate flavor to balance those two elements, so I didn't eat all that much of this bar. I think it might appeal to people who enjoy a certain type of milky European milk chocolate, but I would pass on this one in the future unless they increased the cacao percentage to 45% or 50% to give it a more rounded flavor.