So here’s something I’m sure you’ve all seen by now:
Chilli Bob’s Farm’s and Tom Smith’s Plants’ dragon’s breath chilli. A tree-like plant that produces some small but supposedly extremely hot peppers with an average scoville rating of almost two and a half million.
Compared to the average heat of the current record holder, the carolina reaper (between 1.4 and 1.57 million, depending on when you take the record from), this is a massive step up. It even beats out the reaper’s 2.2 million peak.
Such a stunning heat difference that it has been all over the news and in social media feeds across the globe.
The truth of the matter is, though, there’s not a shred of proof. They haven’t got the new world record and the only numbers they’ve shown us are the results of their own calculations, which even then are a tenth of what the companies are claiming.
In fact, as of last tuesday, Chilli Bob has actively stated that their record application was done improperly and will not be considered valid.
Of course, they look to be blaming Tom Smith’s Plants for everything but, with inconsistent facts on both sides throughout, it’s hard for me to consider either of them in the right.
Yet, no matter what I think of their marketing, it’s not that that’s going to keep them from claiming the top spot.
No, what really made life hard for new challengers was a little something called the Naga Viper.
A chilli I’ll be talking about in greater detail later but, for now, it should suffice to say that this variety was more unstable than any that had come before it. It caused a lot of controversy and even forced Guinness to change their entry requirements.
Sadly, these requirements are not available for public viewing but I do know that they now require an average rating across numerous plants and at least some indication that they’ll breed true.
The dragon’s breath, however, looks very varied in its pepper shapes and colours. Almost as though different plants are producing entirely different chillies. It’s not a stable strain.
But, for those of you who want to see a new chilli claim that record, there is still hope. Several challengers have been growing in relative secrecy, waiting for their chance at the top, waiting to make sure the next generation will be just as hot as the last.
The first to appear was Chad Soleski and Steven Mclaurin’s chocolate bhutlah. A big, brown chilli bred from the ghost pepper, a 7-pod/pot douglah and a mysterious third parent.
I’ve tried it myself and can honestly say that it tastes hotter than the carolina reaper, as well as being stunningly rich, but brown chillies often have a perceived heat a bit above their rating. Will its scoville score be higher? Only time can tell.
It has, however, had many copycat strains named after it since it was announced in 2013, making it hard to pin down any single version to test.
But just because it was the first to make itself known as a potential challenger doesn’t mean it was the first to start growing. No, that would be either the AIASP (an italian growing organisation)’s apocalypse scorpion (more officially the “trinidad scorpion moruga blend apocalypse strain” but that’s a mouthful) or Fatalii Gourmet’s jigsaw, both of which have been growing for over half a decade now.
The Jigsaw, at least, is set to be rated soon and several companies openly believe in it, including Burning Desire, who even put it into a sauce named “critical mass”.
I’ll be talking about that sauce as soon as I can but, in the mean time, Burning Desire and my friends at Grim Reaper Foods should both have it for purchase if you’re really interested.
And then there’s the less fortunate challenger, Jay’s peach ghost scorpion. A quite pleasant looking, if worryingly knobbly, light peach coloured pepper bred from a peach ghost pepper and one of the several trinidad scorpion varieties.
I’ve heard a lot about how nice and fresh its flavour is and it does look and sound like a goody.
It is not, however, the new world’s hottest. I’m not sure it was even expected to be for the first seven years of its life but it looks as though people had high hopes for it last year.
Since then, though, I’ve seen it rated with several different values, ranging from 700 thousand to 1.5 million but never above even the current average for the carolina reaper.
But, even if it isn’t the hottest, it has its uses. I am told that Devon Chilli Man makes a wonderful, fruity, super hot peach sauce with it and I do intend to try it myself some time.
But, while these are the chillies we know about, Smoking Ed, president of PuckerButt Pepper Co and creator of the reaper itself also has something new up his sleeve, as evidenced by one of his latest Facebook posts:
So, will 2017 see a new name in the Guinness Book of Records?
Only time will tell but give me time and I’ll be giving all of these newcomers a go.