Bourbon barrels. Buttermilk. Brown sugar. Smoke houses.
If you could capture the old-fashioned, romantic ideal of the American South in flavor form, these would be the exact notes. And they just so happen to be the prime ingredients that flavor Scott Witherow’s incomparable chocolate creations at Olive & Sinclair. A self-proclaimed addict to old things and food, Scott’s chocolate company is the logical conclusion to his journey from his straight-grenadine-slurping days as a sweets-obsessed kid, through the culinary scene in England (the Old World, of course) and then on the nostalgic Nashville restaurant circuit.
Scott was working as a pastry chef in Nashville, Tennessee and teaching at a local art institute when his interest in chocolate started to gain momentum. He started researching how to make it, and on a chance meeting with a bean-to-bar maker in Canada, Scott received the samples (all of which he devoured in his hotel room that night) that convinced him to start his own artisan chocolate company. He ran the idea by his business-savvy dad, got the green light, and Olive & Sinclair was born—named for Scott’s grandfather and his wife’s great aunt.
In late 2007, Oliver & Sinclair was nothing but Scott at a tabletop machine, producing 3 to 5 pounds of chocolate at a time. In those early days, he’d oven-roast and hand-crack the beans with something resembling your grandma’s old sausage grinder, then use a hair dryer and an old French chinois to separate the nibs from the shell. Over time, Scott developed what he deemed Southern Artisan Chocolate: small batches of select single origin beans, slow-roasted and stone ground (just like grits!), combined with brown sugar for a smooth, rich flavor with a distinctly southern molasses undertone.
From there, it didn’t take much for Olive & Sinclair to take off. Word-of-mouth, grassroots growth started almost immediately. Once Gwyneth Paltrow professed her affinity and requested 500 bars for her friends, success was a sure thing.
Scott uses all-natural, organic ingredients in his creative bars, like his salt and pepper bar. He also collaborates with other Nashville makers to create crazy-unique and delicious chocolate creations like his Smoked Nib Brittle. His operation lives in a space that matches the brand, an 1890’s factory with old stone mills and rustic features. It all comes together to yield a chocolate that might be old-fashioned, but somehow feels totally new.