Jump to content

  •  


The 10th Annual Hot Pepper Awards Winners Announced!

spicefreak

Member Since 08 Nov 2015
Offline Last Active Today, 10:00 AM

Topics I've Started

Brown/Chocolate Bhutlah

10 February 2017 - 08:04 PM

Hey guys, the first batch of my 2017 plants are starting to sprout and it's got me thinking. I have two of the so called "Reaper Killers" in the form of the Jigsaw and Jay's Peach Ghost Scorpion but wouldn't it be so much nicer to have a full set of the three big name challengers?

 

Problem is, though, I have no idea which of the various Bhutlah strains is the "good" one.

 

Anyone willing to shed some light on the matter for me?


oQuintal's Devil's Choice Scorpion Sauce

07 February 2017 - 10:11 AM

Between a few packaging misshaps and falling ill halfway through, this was a fun one to review...

Still, it's up on my blog now, or here for your ease of perusal:

 

Happy tuesday again, everyone.

About a week ago, I received another free sample package, this time from The Hot Pepper Company (not to be confused with The Chilli Pepper Company). Inside was a single, very hot sauce, looking a little like this:

 

2017-01-24-08-41-52.jpg?w=477

 

only wetter.

 

 

In fact, I didn't even need to see it to know how hot it was because, the moment I opened that cardboard box, I could feel it in the air. Some of the sauce had leaked and vapourised. I was coughing uncontrollably for a good few minutes.

 

But I can't blame The Hot Pepper Company for that. They had packaged it as thoroughly as possible, with enough bubble-wrap to make the whole unboxing process somewhat more challenging than normal.

No, if anyone is at fault here, it is oQuintal, the makers of this sauce and the ones who decided on the bottle for it. A bottle with a nice little flip top like so:

 

2017-02-02-11-54-10.jpg?w=680

 

Allowing you to drop on the thin sauce inside like a far stronger Tabasco.

 

Except the lid didn't come like this. To make that hole, it was necessary for me to take a knife to the thin plastic.

Because of that, there is now a gap between the top and bottom segments of the lid that fills up when you shake the bottle. Something you have to do every time because this sauce separates easily. Something that will leave you with scorpion chilli residue all over your hands after every meal.

 

Of course, the product came without instructions or, if it did have any, they were on the ruined mini-pamphlet attached to those rubber bands. For all I know, there may have been a better way to get into it that I didn't spot.

Regardless, though, this bottle seems like poor design. Unlike its labelling.

 

The label of this product comes in a wide variety of greens, all used to offset the red of the chilli and its red and yellow name, as well as loosely hinting at the fact that the producers are also the growers.

The name of the sauce, “Devil's Choice”, then resides on a dark green banner bellow the scorpion chilli name, its text rather plain and white, much like the small pieces of informative text 'round the sides.

And, beneath this name, we have a tiny pair of flaming chillies being stabbed with pitchforks, ramming home the satanic theming without detracting too much from the simplicity of it all.

A simplicity that speaks volumes about the contents.

 

You see, this is a very simple sauce, designed to focus on the fearsome flavour and burn of its signature ingredient. oQuintal's own grown trinidad scorpion peppers.

 

Because that's who oQuintal are. Not sauce makers but growers and sellers of the hottest chillies in portugal, merely splashing out into the sauce market as a means to get their peppers out there.

 

But they've still done a little more than just make another first ingredient scorpion sauce. They've done their research, found out what sauces people like and attempted to combine them into perfection.

The Hot Pepper Company even describes it has having all the best qualities of both Tabasco and Sriracha. But maybe we should find out for ourselves.

 

2017-01-24-08-44-13.jpg?w=300

 

It's certainly thin like Tabasco but, as you should be able to see on that spoon, it also has that really fine chilli graininess of Sriracha, giving it a little more substance but not stopping it from feeling smooth.

But, before I even notice the flavour, the heat really kicks me in the front of the mouth, then works its way swiftly to the throat.

 

Unlike any other scorpion sauce I've tried, oQuintal's Devil's Choice has all the sudden punchiness of a good scotch bonnet sauce, only with a hell of a lot more heat. Starting at a seven out of ten on my scale, this sauce then ramps up fast and reaches the very bottom of an

8/10

Heat

within mere seconds.

 

Roughly double what I'd give the very hottest of those scotch bonnet scorchers and well in excess of even ghost pepper products but still not the highest a trinidad scorpion sauce can go.

 

No, if you want the hottest nature has to offer, this isn't it but I've found that some crazy heat seekers would actually much prefer the punchiest. The one with the biggest instant kick. If that sounds like you then this is going to be your sauce!

 

But there is, of course, much more to a sauce than just the heat and, as its attempts to combine the taste of both Tabasco and Sriracha imply, this sauces certainly isn't forsaking flavour for fire.

Not that it actually tastes like either.

 

Both the tabasco chilli and the red jalapeño used in most Srirachas have a certain fruitiness to them that makes them taste completely unlike the trinidad scorpion. The trinidad scorpion is often described as fruity but it is, to me at least, a harsh, acidic, orangey fruitiness. I don't often like it when it takes centre stage but the chilli does have its uses and this sauce makes it work.

 

This sauce makes it work in several ways, the first of which is fermentation. By ageing the scorpion in the same manner that McIlhenny Co and Hoy Fong Foods use for their chillies, it picks up a little added depth of flavour while loosing some of that harsher front end.

 

Then, they've reduced the vinegar compared to Tabasco. The acidic flavour provided by the scorpion itself makes more than the required amount for shelf life detrimental to the taste. You can't tell unless you know the scorpion pepper well but there's actually more water than vinegar in this sauce.

 

And finally, Devil's Choice uses the sugar you find in sriracha to take the edge off any unwanted tartness. Not enough to make it sweet and certainly not enough for a sweet and sour taste, but enough to balance out the chilli and vinegar a bit.

 

But, as said, this isn't just scorpion Tabasco. That might be the biggest part of the flavour but the garlic from its sriracha side also comes through strong behind the fearsome heat and flavour of the chilli itself, working surprisingly well with the second place record holder.

 

Honestly, I can't fault this sauce. The bottle was a mistake but the actual product inside is an excellent simple showcase of what one particular chilli can do. And yet, while it makes that chilli the forefront flavour, it doesn't make it the be all and end all of the sauce.

 

This is a more or less all purpose product, pairing decently with most meals that need a few extra drops of fire, but it will probably go particularly well with strong flavoured dark meats or chinese dishes.

 

If you would like a bottle of your own, this product is unfortunately not available on The Hot Pepper Company's website but, since they do stock it, I'm sure they'd be happy to sell you this sauce on request. Just let them know I sent you.


Marie Sharp's Green Habanero

23 January 2017 - 08:04 PM

So, as I discussed with you all some time ago, I was planning on grabbing some of Marie Sharp's sauce for review. I wasn't sure which would go down well. I wasn't sure which to get. As I should have realised from the beginning, however, it was never about making the sensible choice. The sensible choice is boring, anyone can make that.

No, for me and my blog, the choice came down to what most excited me and that, my friends, was her Green Habanero and cactus concotion.

 

Here's the long awaited review content copied over:

 

Howdy folks, today we're going a little further afield for a less mainstream american sauce, imported and sold in the UK by Hotheadz.

 

2016-12-10-12-22-24.jpg?w=506

 

Marie Sharp's, the company who actually make the sauce, are a well respected company from humble family origins, who specialise exclusively habanero. They have an entire range of heats, mild to nearly ghost level, all using their one signature chilli.

And maybe a little bit of extract in the hottest ones.

 

But what I'm trying this week isn't about the heat itself but about the kind of unique flavour few producers are willing to touch. Hot green chillies.

 

 

Why don't more companies do this, you ask? Surely there has to be a market for a green sauce with heat?

 

There is but it's a niche one and, further more, while jalapeños ripen from green to darker green, to red, most chillies skip that middle stage, meaning that a green habanero is actually unripe.

 

Now, as with many fruit and veg, there isn't anything wrong with eating peppers under-ripe but it does put a lot of producers off. Plus, since the chillies haven't produced much of their natural sugars yet, they're rather sharp flavoured and need a little more know how to get something good from.

Know how that, if possessed by anyone, surely will be by the company who specialises in doing everything they can with one specific hot chilli.

 

But, before we let our expectations run wild, let's take a look at what the packaging tells us they should really be.

 

What we have here is actually a fairly unassuming white label against the light green of the sauce and the darker shade it uses for its shrink wrap. It stands out but it does so by being an unusually plain bottle amidst the dramatic reds and oranges of the hot sauce world.

And, interestingly enough, it works pretty well.

 

Yet, despite its plain design, there is one other thing that makes this sauce's packaging stand out. The use of metallic label material, allowed to shine only in places where it would highlight the company name, enhance said label's outline or draw attention to the central orange heart that encompasses pictures of the ingredients.

 

From the last of these, we can see that green habanero isn't the only out there ingredient to be found in this product. No, we also see the green pods of the nopal cactus, often referred to as prickly pears, despite this name also being used for the actual fruit of the plant.

 

Besides these, we also see lime, onions and garlic, the more usual ingredients that give some extra body to this sauce.

 

The whole thing seems like very simple, down to earth, “this is what you're getting” packaging, designed to fit the brand's humble origins and image.

But how does it taste?

 

2016-12-10-12-23-54.jpg?w=680

 

It's just as sharp and acidic as its lack of sugars and use of under-ripe chillies had led me to expect but not in a way that makes it unpleasant. Instead, its tartness is refreshing and will likely make it an excellent companion to greasier dishes, though I'd personally be inclined to pair it with cheese salads or use it to liven up green pesto due to the rest of its unusual flavour.

 

That is, the combined flavour of a green chilli that's vaguely reminiscent of jalapeño but ironically more akin to something that's had a little time to age and develop, and the strange, grassy, planty, rather unique taste of cactus. Both supported by the undertones of garlic.

 

I'll be honest with you, I don't like it.

 

From an objective standpoint, the balance of flavours is simple but well managed and it's definitely a good quality sauce. It's just not for everyone.

The flavour of cactus is, it turns out, not something I can personally appreciate, but, unlike with last week's sauce, I can definitely tell that this product is a good one. Any objections I have to its flavour are all a matter of my own personal taste.

 

With its bottling, however, I have a far less personal issue:

 

2016-12-10-12-23-29.jpg?w=680

 

This dropper cap. The cause of both the pitiful spoonful seen above and the clogging that remains in the neck of my bottle even after I've removed it.

 

With a product of this thickness, I can see how the drop size might be quite large without it but, while it is strong flavoured, I don't see this sauce overpowering food in flavour or in heat unless really slathered on. And it doesn't pour rapidly or uncontrollably either.

 

I do not see why such a restriction on the product's use is needed, or how it could be seen as a positive unless, like me, you don't like the taste. In which case, why use it at all?

On this particular sauce, I do not approve of the dropper cap.

 

But I can certainly appreciate the sauce's texture without it. Thick and chunky, yet with a juicy element from the lime and vinegar, much like a good homemade salsa.

And, while the small quantity let out by the cap makes it appear mild, this sauce actually reaches the lower end of what I'd call a

3/10

Heat

without it. A heat that comes in a little late but builds to its peak very rapidly after the initial tartness has gone, letting you enjoy both the flavour and a slightly milder version of the ferocious habanero heat.

 

It may not be for me but, if the sound of a tart, green cactus sauce appeals to you, this is still a product well worth picking up. And there isn't much else like it.

 


Wiltshire Chilli Farm's Dark (Chocolate) Habanero Sauce

17 January 2017 - 07:20 PM

It's been one hell of a day so I'm sorry that this is going up late (it's technically wednesday where I am) but this is what was posted on my blog earlier and trust me, you'll appreciate the cause of the hold up soon.

 

Greetings, spice lovers. Today it's time for a change of pace, something special I picked out before christmas but haven't had time to show you until now:

 

2016-09-20-13-08-02.jpg?w=530

 

The Wiltshire Chilli Farm's Dark Habanero, a sauce supposedly as rich and dark in taste as it is in appearance.

 

This sauce is made specifically from the “chocolate” habanero, a dark cocoa-like brown breed of that well known hot chilli. It even has a smidgen of raw cocoa bean powder but, despite its cocoa content and “chocolate” chilli, the makers assure me that this isn't a chocolate flavoured sauce. In fact, they even had to change its name from Chocolate Habanero because too many people got the wrong idea.

It's only similarity is in its supposed richness.

 

 

And the labelling is a rich brown like the sauce itself, with the company's logo bold and central, using a solid white to stand out. It's an unorthodox choice but this simple colouration works well with their equally simple design. Three chillies cut into a decahedron, surrounded by the company name and the banner that holds their motto, “Fearless Flavour”.

 

We then see a thin-lined white box down below, which holds the product's name in bold, golden yellow letters, further adding to the sense of richness this colour scheme provides.

 

Aside from that, there's not much else of note on the front of the bottle but you'll find little blurbs all around the sides about who the company are, what the chilli is, what the sauce is and how to use it. That's not always the most exciting way to fill up space but this is a no frills specialist product that revolves around the taste of a single uncommon strain of a chilli. If you're the sort of person to whom that appeals, you're also the sort of person who's going to love that detail.

 

But, if that's not you and your only interest in the chocolate habanero is that its supposedly the hottest colour, you don't have to read all that. You can appreciate the purity of this sauce and the simplicity of its packaging. And, of course, its dramatic use of action lines.

 

That's right. If the chilli itself wasn't enough to grab your attention, perhaps the two background tones radiating out from just below the label's mid point will be. They are, after all, a classic comic book way of showing where all the action is without animation. A trick I'm sure the Wiltshire Chilli Farm are aware of, given their past comic book themed range.

 

In my opinion, they've done an excellent job on this sauce's packaging, conveying the rich, dark flavour and making it eye catching while still retaining that sense of simplicity you want for the bottle of a specialist single-chilli sauce.

 

The one thing I think they could do better is to waterproof it but, even then, this isn't poor quality paper. Just because it's not glossy doesn't mean it's not pleasing to the touch. That one issue really is quite minor unless you happen to be a stall holder.

 

But, just because I know what the taste should be and how well the label represents that doesn't mean I can review this sauce without opening the bottle so, without further ado, let's load up the spoon.

 

2016-09-20-13-10-38.jpg?w=300

 

It flows from the bottle quickly and easily but this sauce isn't really all that thin. It's a good middling consistency, with small chunks and seeds proving that the entirety of each chilli went into this bottle.

With its upper

4/10

Heat

and powerfully floral flavour, though, this is not a sauce you can simply enjoy a spoonful of. I was warned that this one would have a delayed reaction but that isn't true for me at all. In the quantity I first tried it, the heat was an instant spread from the sides of the mouth to the back of the throat and it was painful.

 

It wasn't unbearable, by any means, but nor was this quite the product I was expecting. Everything I'd read had led me to believe it was hot but focused on flavour.

This was not just the upper three of a sauce that showcased the taste of a hot chilli. It was the serious stinging burn of the hottest habanero sauce I've ever had. This sauce does not sacrifice heat for flavour. Youch!

 

But still, I've eaten far hotter, as the fact it only reaches the top of a four will tell you. This sauce may hit me a little harder than some because of its particular brand of heat but, in all honesty, it's pretty manageable once you know what's coming.

 

No, the heat isn't my issue with this sauce. My problem with it is what accompanies that heat. An overwhelming floral taste with a back-note of sourness, slightly green as if the pepper weren't fully ripe. Or perhaps that's just how chocolate habaneros are meant to taste.

Either way, I don't like it one bit.

 

It can, however, be managed. By taking the sauce in smaller doses, or perhaps having it with a meal like you're supposed to, you don't get the heat quite as suddenly. Instead the burn, as well as everything that comes with it, creeps in a little more gradually, allowing you time to more properly taste the rest of the chilli. And all the other ingredients.

 

That taste is rich but not as strong as I was expecting. Which is probably why it gets lost so easily beneath that powerful floral flavour. It's sweet and earthy, perhaps even peaty, with definite hints of smoke, just like the company claim, but where that smoke comes from is unclear. Is it innate to the chilli like they suggest or is it from the chipotle they've added? I can't say for sure.

 

What I can say, though, is that I will not be adding this to mexican style chilli like I had intended. I ordered this expecting a bold, rich, dark, almost chocolatey flavour but the only strong flavour here is that habanero floral tone. Nothing else would come through in such a strong dish.

 

What would I use this for then? If anything, probably fish. That's a big “if”, though, because, quite honestly, I just don't like it.


The Chilli Alchemist's Melliculus Reaper Popping Candy

10 January 2017 - 09:32 AM

This week we have the very last of my blog's free samples, at least for the forseeable future, and the hottest of them to boot. This is, without a doubt, the hottest non-extract popping candy around. Not that there's much competition for that title.

Here's the content copied over:

 

Hello again spice lovers, today we're looking at the Melliculus range's hottest and the first product I ever tried from The Chilli Alchemist; The Melliculus Reaper:

 

2016-12-16-13-26-15.jpg?w=680

 

 

Black and red, the Reaper is the most sinister looking of the bunch and clearly the hottest of the three colour coded ones.

 

In addition, the faint alchemical symbols seem to gather behind that word, their slightly lighter shade forming something of a spotlight on the name. The name of the product and the name of the chilli, the carolina reaper.

 

Because this particular popping candy does, in fact, get its heat from the world's hottest chilli, making the “very hot” rating beneath that name something of an understatement, I'm sure.

It is, though, the only one of the range to have a rating even that high. The superhot black version we looked at last month was merely rated “hot”, despite its only flavourings being 7-pot/7-pod and ghost chillies.

 

And, if that doesn't clue you in to the heat level I'm expecting, maybe its colour will. It's darker and more powder filled even than the Aji version and, unlike that one, there's no added ingredients like szechuan pepper. What you see here is all chilli. All reaper.

 

2016-12-16-13-27-55.jpg?w=680

 

In moderation, it's delicious.

 

I make no secret of the fact that I love the mellower chilli flavour of the carolina reaper, neither acidic and fruity like the trinidad scorpion nor quite as bold as the ghost but rather a surprisingly light and gentle flavour for its heat level.

 

It's often described as having cinnamon or chocolate notes to it and, while I don't entirely agree that it actually tastes of those things, I can certainly see where those people are coming from. It does have the same sort of spiced elements to it as you might get using cinnamon, cocoa or nutmeg.

 

It's a wonderful tasting pepper that is rendered sadly inaccessible to most people by its insane heat but there is one problem with its flavour, even for those like me who can handle the burn. It's strangely sour.

That sourness occasionally comes through just a touch in this popping candy but only when you get a particularly hot clump. For the most part, the sugar content counteracts it perfectly, making this one of the best ways to experience the taste of the chilli. Especially with how well the undertones of cocoa butter support it.

 

The Melliculus Reaper is an excellent chilli product and was, prior to sampling the Melliculus Aji, my undoubted favourite of the range. Now, it's hard to say which of the two I prefer but I would recommend them to quite different audiences.

 

The Aji one was hot and tasty, with a very interesting and unusual blend of flavours. It's perfect for those who like hot and want something a little different without going to extreme heats. Or to show those who aren't familiar with the breadth of flavour found in the chilli world just how different some peppers can taste.

 

The Reaper, however, is not for the faint of heart. It is a gorgeous tasting product for the connoisseurs who can see and taste past its extreme firepower or a particularly interesting and unusual way to challenge your mates to try the world's hottest.

It is not for the casual hot food lover.

 

Heat-wise, it's a little delayed, building as the candy begins to pop and quickly becoming a fearsome fire in the back of the throat and at the roof of the mouth.

 

Like the other Melliculus popping candies, the heat goes upwards far more than it would with other products from the same chilli but, unlike the others, this one reaches a whopping

 

7.5/10

Heat

 

It's not perfectly consistent, mind you. Some small mouthfuls are just a touch lower due to the way the chilli is distributed but, for the most part, that's the heat you'll be getting.

 

And, of course, seven point five is a long way from ten, the heat of a first ingredient carolina reaper sauce, but it's also just as far from five, the heat of a ghost one. Compared to most supermarket chilli products, this is completely and utterly off the scale so please, do be careful if you're not used to extreme heats.

 

It's a wonderful product but one to use with caution and, while I'd generally just eat it as is, I could certainly see it pairing well with vanilla and white chocolate ice-creams or pressed into icing atop a raspberry sponge cake.