Hello again, folks. As you’ve probably noticed, I like to deal most in the weird and wonderful but, with the day of my christmas recap steadily approaching, I’d like to switch it up a little and show you all something made for a broader appeal. Something super simple, featuring a mere two ingredients but boasting a whole world of sophistication.
Today, what I want to show you is Shake – The first sauce from Bad Boy Chilli Co and, at the time I purchased it, their only non-mash product.
As a mash company, they’re all about ageing and fermenting their chillies and, for this particular item, they make a big deal out of the whiskey casks that they use. Which might be impressive if it weren’t what McIlhenny Co already do producing Tabasco.
How does today’s product hold up in light of that fact? Well, that’s the point of today’s review. You’re going to have to read on and find out.
The first thing to take note of is that, while I don’t know how they do it, Bad Boy Chilli Co manage to preserve their chillies through the fermentation process without adding any salt. The ingredients list really is just two words long. Or three if you count the ampersand:
Chillies & Vinegar
Reading the ingredients list doesn’t tell us much, if I’m honest, and it definitely wasn’t worth the effort of balancing the bottle upside down.
Yet, I have to admit, the flipped back to its label is a fun touch. Be it in reference to the name “Shake” or to the sauce’s barrel-aged nature, it fits the product well and adds a slight quirkiness, which I’d be a terrible hypocrite not to appreciate.
As for the rest of the label design, the little barrel graphic on the front gets its method of manufacture across but the artistic flourishes to the border around the front are entirely lost, being white on citrus yellow. It tries to look like a finely brewed alcoholic beverage but doesn’t quite manage it, in my opinion. Perhaps if it went for a darker, warmer yellow then the white might show up more?
It’s not perfect but the company are quite clear on what they want to portray, even if they don’t quite succeed at it, and graphic design is a very different skill from sauce production. I’m going to have to taste it but there’s a problem there:
This sauce has the tiniest flow restriction cap that I have ever seen and the amount that it lets onto my spoon is pitiful:
But, you know what? I can still get a sense of its heat and flavour.
Shake is strong, sharp and citrusy, bringing new meaning to the lemon-yellow of its label. And, while I can’t say I get all of its intricacies coming through in such a tiny quantity, there’s definitely an overlying note of oak.
A lighter one than I get from Tabasco. Not less prominent but less dark and musty. And the chilli doesn’t taste red, either.
This is, quite simply, a brighter sauce all round.
Yet, while the level of flavour difference between this and even McIlhenny Co’s habanero sauce surprises me, it’s not the only unexpected feature.
Shake is also a lot hotter than most commercial and mass-produced hot sauces, with a whopping
that stings like a cauterized needle when I finally get a good spoonful of it. It’s even hotter than chocolate habanero sauce, somehow.
The intricate subtleties of its oaken whisky barrel are hard to focus on through that fire and powerful lemon-like body but they are there if you do. I was sceptical at first but this is a well made sauce that’s going to go a very long way, despite its 50ml bottle.
It’s the sort of sharp, fruity and acidic flavour that I enjoy on pizza or in with a tomato-based pasta sauce but, as the company suggest, it’s also absolutely perfect for seafood or cocktails with a volatile base to carry its finer aromas. As I mentioned vodka doing in my Red Snapper review.
And those are just the places where it’ll excel. This is, as it was sold, a simple but sophisticated blend that will go with almost anything, from roast meats to soups and veg casseroles. Or maybe mixed into mayo for your chips.
It is, quite simply, a better Tabasco – Hotter but also finer-capped to mitigate any problems that that might cause. It’s a great, all purpose sauce for anyone who doesn’t mind a vinegar zing and I will definitely be recommending it as such when that christmas recap comes up.
Until then though, let’s take one last look at that ingredients list.
Officially just “chillies” and “vinegar”, I think I can elaborate after tasting it. That vinegar has the sharpness of the spirit variety and, while I tasted the fermentation of the chillies more than the chillies themselves, it’s written all over the packaging that they’re habaneros. Ones that would have to be orange to provide both the reddish colour and such a fruity base for the acids to build upon.
So, with almost complete certainty, I would call this an Orange Habanero & Spirit Vinegar sauce.