Happy thursday folks, we’re getting close to christmas and this is a bit later than I’d originally hoped to have it but here’s the dragon’s breath:
And yes, it’s in a sauce.
In fact, it’s a sauce you’ve already seen. It’s an updated version of The Chilli Pepper Company’s earlier, less grammatically correct “Dragons Breath”.
Whether this change is just to avoid confusion or because they seriously believe in the strain, I couldn’t say but I appreciate it. It keeps the sauce from having the name of a chilli it doesn’t contain and, more excitingly, it gives me a way to check the pepper out.
I never did manage to get a sample from either of the two people who claimed to have developed it but, while I’m still very sceptical of the dragon’s breath chilli, I’m definitely curious. I’m definitely happy to have my hands on it.
And, as the first superhot said to be literally inedible, I feel I have a duty to prove its growers wrong.
Before I try the actual chillies, though, perhaps we should take a look at the two sauces side by side.
Not only are the labels different but the sauces inside are visibly so, too. With the addition of its extra red chilli, the new, properly appostrophed version has taken on a highly inviting, warm, orangey-golden hue, quite unlike the mustard-yellow of the original.
To my nose, however, the two are practically identical and, while the ingredients lists may look a tad more different, that’s the result of mislabelling.
The reason that I found the original Dragons Breath so mild for a ghost pepper sauce is simple: It wasn’t one. I have had confirmation from the company owner that it never contained any chilli but scotch bonnet before and, even then, it was quite mild for that.
Plus, the smooth, mango-like fruity undertones were actually from unlisted mango.
The only difference between these two are that the new version has added record-candidate chilli, while the old one contains apple juice.
Here’s the new one’s list:
Tomatoes, Mangoes, Scotch Bonnet Chilli, Dragon’s Breath Chilli, Onions, Lemon Juice, Vinegar, Mustard, Garlic, Thyme, Basil, Turmeric, Nutmeg.
Yet the packaging does still refer to it as a “powerful, uncompromising sauce” “powered up [with] the deadly hot and be[a]utifully fragrant Bhut Jolokia Chilli”. Which is a little concerning when I specifically bought something hotter.
There is no ghost in here when I taste it, though.
This product’s signature chilli isn’t even as mild as the 7-pot/pod infinity that some have claimed it to be. Whatever it actually is, the Dragon’s Breath is clearly not the strain that Mike Smith and Chilli Bob first thought that they were growing but it does bear some resemblance to the one infinity cross that I’ve tried. The InfiNaga that I recommended using in mince pies last year.
Like that pepper and, presumably, others related to 2011’s two-week record holder, the chilli in this sauce has a heat that warms all the way down.
Unlike that one, though, it also has a serious sting upfront to warn you. A whopping
in the mouth that, while a fair bit lower than I’d hoped for, is still pretty impressive when we know that it’s less than 25% the new chilli.
And, while the slow grow of the pepper and ability to sense its journey down makes it seem like a throatier burn at first, the two ways in which the fire lingers most are actually as a strong gullet warmth and as an almost throbbing, numbing sting on the tip of the tongue.
Very little is left behind in the throat at all and, while it’s not quite the feel of a habanero, the tongue tingle does have some striking similarities to it.
Flavourwise, this sauce is the same smooth and fruity mustard one it was before, with subtle undertones of its herbs and a definite citrus tartness from the lemon juice. The mango is there but not prominent and the tomato is entirely unapparent to me. Which is odd for a main ingredient.
Last time, I was quite wrong when I asserted that the chilli contributed to that citrus element of the sauce. My less experienced taste buds of the time were led astray by the mislabelled ingredients list.
This time, however, I will reiterate that statement because, when consumed in quantity, this version has a distinctive chilli sourness alongside its heat that I would normally associate with the carolina reaper. One that makes a full spoonful of this sauce as unbearable in flavour as it is in strength but also one that accentuates the lemon’s tartness most pleasantly when you have just a few drops.
On your sausages, your lamb or your shepherd’s pie, to name but a few uses, that pleasant level is what you’re going to be getting and this is going to be an excellent, tasty, near record level sauce with a winter warmth that’s going to really satisfy those who can handle the upfront mouth burn.
And you will taste just a touch more fruity red chilli in this one, too.
Like its predecessor, Dragon’s Breath is a very well made sauce and, while it certainly does fall into a mustard lover’s niche, I may have been a little too harsh on it in my previous review.
I will be leaving that review up, of course, for posterity but, since it no-longer reflects the current product and was, if I’m honest, not the best at describing the old one either, this post will be taking its place on my side bar from now on.
Regarding the complete artwork overhaul that we’ve seen with this product, the Dragon’s Breath is no-longer a part of The Chilli Pepper Company’s main line.
Instead, it’s now one of their sauces made to showcase a world record pepper, alongside the former records of the butch t seen in their “Scorpion King” and their own naga viper, featured in its self-titled wing sauce, which I’ll hopefully find time to feature in the new year.
These sauces have kept the company’s old labelling style since, while the more recent cracked earth and bold name look is a good one, it doesn’t get the pepper content across nearly as well as an oval filled with an image of the chilli’s namesake.
In this case, the sheer force of that pepper is made apparent by the way in which their cute, green, almost dorky looking dragon is breaking the zigzag border of the very oval that contains it with its breath. Perhaps symbolic of how the dragon’s breath chilli isn’t actually the current record but is instead breaking it with a 2.48 million scoville average or 2.7 million peak heat, if reports are to be believed.
It’s a cool design and one that manages to get its point across without instantly seeming scary like some sauces. This is, after all, a product designed with flavour in mind and heat only added later.
Plus, it stands out wonderfully against the dark, grey-blue, almost black background that they’ve given it, with a definite sense of traditional culture from its upper and lower borders that, while not actual celtic knotwork, are somewhat reminiscent of insular art.
The only two things I would change about this product’s labelling are that poorly written blurb about the sauce’s (nonexistant) bhut content and the text used for the name.
It could really do with being bolder and having a white drop shadow to be more in line with the company’s current style and pop out more.
Now, onto the chillies they sold me:
The packaging on these is very basic, with nothing more than their web address and a red product name on a medium-sized white sticker to identify the clear pot’s contents.
I won’t be spending much time talking about it but I would like to quickly point out that they got the apostrophe right on the sauce this time so it’s quite the disappointment to see it absent again on the chillies themselves.
Opening it up, their smell is pretty stunning. Part berry-like 7-pot/pod (brainstrain, perhaps), part extra fruity scorpion (think butch t), it’s definitely a strong chinense type chilli but that’s not the first thing I notice about them. Before I begin assessing the subtlety and meaning of their aroma, I’m already finding that these chillies are making me hungry.
Fruitier strains do tend to be my favourites and, while there is a definite generic dried red superhot element to them, the vast majority of these dragon’s breath peppers’ scent is just that. A blend of red berries with a touch of not-quite-oranges that I find almost irresistible.
Even if I weren’t doing so to inform you all, it would be pretty much inevitable that I’d taste them. Yet, before I do, we should probably have a good look at their cross-section:
They’re good looking peppers with a small, yet chunky tail on them and the placenta that they contain is quite substantial. They’re very thinly walled and the inside is a decent amount paler than the out.
Combined with the wrinkled surface, that definitely would suggest a layer of placental tissue over the whole interior of the peppers but here’s the thing: None of that is unusual for a new super. Aside from their more elongated, slightly more scorpion-like shape, these might as well be the 7-pot/pod brainstrains that I likened their smell to.
There is one tiny thing about them that does strike me as novel, though, and that’s the presence of irregularly placed tiny shiny globules on that inner surface.
I’m sure you know the deal by now. Every time a potential new record comes along, it’s oozing with oils and droplets adorn its inner walls like raindrops after a short-lived storm.
That’s nothing new, either. I’ve seen it to a lesser degree in scotch bonnets, even, but here’s the thing: Peppers don’t dry like that.
The oils evaporate off and leave their fiery residue behind or get absorbed into the dehydrated flesh of the pepper. I’ve never seen them form shiny, solid, glue-like globs like this before.
And, while there aren’t many, the fact that they’re there at all scares me.
Thank god these aren’t fresh!
The tip of the pepper I’ve cut open, as with any other, is most definitely its mildest part, allowing me to appreciate its berry-like 7-pot/pod taste without too much distraction. The more orangey elements from its possible scorpion side (and I’ve heard that there may have been some butch t in the infinity to begin with) are far milder than they smelled and it practically turns to dust between my teeth. It’s just so thin that it has no strength left in it after dehydration.
Yet, even without that scorpion side or any real substance to it, this chilli is one of the fruitiest that I’ve ever had, tasting, in places, almost like freeze-dried raspberry.
It doesn’t have the sweetness of similarly fruity peppers, though, resembling the tarter side of those berries and starting to get a little reaper-like with the same sourness I found in the sauce as I approach the bulk of the placenta.
The main flesh of this pepper is by no means that of a world record. It’s unmistakably that of a superhot but not quite one that I would expect to make an eight out of ten item like the sauce I just had, even if it were the main pepper therein.
Less than a quarter of its overall content and it couldn’t possibly be enough to heat The Chilli Pepper Company’s new Dragon’s Breath sauce. There has to be something else at work here.
And, indeed, there is. Once I get about a third of the way up the pepper, the flesh suddenly seems to get thicker.
Yet, guess what, that isn’t flesh. That’s placenta!
Or maybe it’s straight up murder, a contender for the second hottest pepper I’ve ever eaten dried.
And you might be thinking that second hottest would mean that it’s not a record but you’d be wrong.
Remember, I’ve tried a few other candidates for top spot and, while this hasn’t wrecked me like the sliver of jigsaw and moruga scorpion hybrid that I had backstage at the Yorkshire Food and Drink Festival, it most certainly does seem to surpass the dried reapers I’ve picked at in the past.
The real question, in my opinion, is how it compares to the chocolate bhutlah but, since I’ve not got any of those to hand to compare, I think it’s a little too close to call.
I would, however, say that the sauce we’ve seen is probably on the mild side for what these peppers are capable of, with a possible
not too unlikely a couple of years from now if this pepper really takes off.
Of course, this is just a part of one pepper that I’ve tried so nothing’s certain but I’m not going to try any more right now. I need milk and I need it as soon as possible to quench this seemingly unending front of the mouth fire.
Catch you next time everyone, have a happy solstice.