Happy thursday again, folks. We’re now into the latter half of november and the christmas season is rapidly approaching but it’s not quite time for my yearly recap yet.
Instead, today sees me focus on somebody else’s list: Bauce Brothers’ Craft Hot Sauce Hot 100.
Now, in case you aren’t aware, Bauce Brothers aren’t just anyone and this isn’t just any selection of sauces. The company specialise in hot sauce subscription boxes – Much like the one that Flaming Licks sent me – giving them a far greater awareness of independent and artisan producers than your any normal food news outlet.
This is the first list of its kind where I feel like the makers have truly held the necessary qualifications but, even so, there’s more to most sauce makers than just a single product.
Today, I’d like to take a little time to look at the producers I know who’ve made the list, whether I think that they deserve it or not and what I make of their wider range.
Perhaps it’ll give you some gift ideas.
Now, before we begin, their list is in no particular order. They claim not to play favourites within their line-up, even if a few bottles do get bigger pictures than the rest.
My list, however, is going to be a tad different. I’m going to start with which picks I whole-heartedly agree on, move on to those that I consider more contentious and, finally, finish with just a couple of outright disagreements. Because, much as I appreciate what they’ve done here, personal taste is most definitely a thing and I don’t see eye to eye with them on everything.
East Coast Chilli Co have a wide variety of top quality sauces that make them more than worthy of their spot in the “Hot 100” and most of their others sound more interesting than mere garlic and habanero but, trust me, this sauce showcases the company better than any other.
Its tomato base is simple but its silky, oil-blended, creamy texture makes it oh so moreish on just about everything, while the ECCC’s signature browned garlic shines through for a robust flavour hit.
Their fruity, refreshing, mango-based “Passion” and their dark reaper teriyaki “Midnight 21” were just as good but they didn’t prove quite as versatile and their heats weren’t the same mid-range suitable for most that Chance has. It’s easy to see why this sauce was picked.
Second on the list, at least for me, It’s the Bunkum Bay Hot Sauce from Glenroy’s. An easy choice from the company, since it’s their only product, but it’s a good one.
I’ve only got my hands on the brand recently and I don’t want to spoil the upcoming review too much but let’s just say that it starts tomatoey, then turns into a beautiful, rather brighter than usual take on a jerk.
If you like jamaican food, this one’s for you but it’ll go on so much more!
Then, we have The Whiskey Sauce Co, who’s 🔥📽️ Scotch Bonnet Sauce 📽️🔥 could really use an ampersand in the middle to highlight what makes it special.
As the only sauce that I’ve ever had to sign for, this one isn’t for under eighteens but it’s not because of any insane heat. No, it’s The Whiskey Sauce Co’s namesake scotch at work, raising their thin, brown sauce to a whopping 4.8% ABV. Not legal to sell to children.
It also adds a deliciously dark and malty flavour, though, resulting in the best welsh rarebit of my life!
Following on from which, I’d like to give a quick mention to El Niño Hot Sauce and Karyo Band’s Satan’s Gravy.
Neither of those being quite the hot gravy that the second’s name might conjure up but both are just as rich and deeply savoury. Well worth investing in to spice up some festive roast dinners and you’ll be seeing a proper review of them from me real soon.
Next up, another one that I’ve only had off record: Mamma Lolly’s Yellow Sauce.
I honestly found her original red rather underwhelming but the yellow is a very thick, pepper-forward, mustardy, caribbean-style sauce with a creaminess that makes it ideal for ham and/or cheese dishes. Easily her best and not just because I don’t much care for the red.
Moving on to Prices Spices, it’s a hard pick, since the company are known more for their chutneys than any given sauce, but the Haitian Sensation is their most popular and it’s their most popular for a reason: It’s fruity yet full bodied, with that classic savoury fruitiness coming from the scotch bonnet.
And, for the last of my agreements, Shake, from Bad Boy Chilli Co. A small and simple bottle of an extra hot, citrussy, habanero-based take on the classic Tabasco formula.
It simply works but, in the unlikely event that it does leave you wanting more heat, they do also make a superhot version with record level peppers.
So, which picks am I less certain on? Well, to start with, there’s the one that brought the list to my attention.
Tom of Tom’s Sauces has been sharing the Hot 100 around on social media and it’s thanks to him that I’ve seen it. I’m definitely grateful, yet I don’t really believe that his Scotch Bonnet Sauce deserves the spot.
It’s a good sauce, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a special one. There are tonnes of scotch bonnet products on the market and four on this list already. Unlike his sweet yet savoury, woody Chipotle Sauce, his bonnet blend just doesn’t stand out to me.
I’d give his Chipotle the spot in an instant, if it were my choice to make, with an honourable mention going to the incredible jerky that he’s been sending out samples of and should start selling soon.
Then we come to the other Tom. The tubby one. Tubby Tom makes so many gorgeous sauces that I have no idea why they chose the Ghost Town.
Was the writer not a fan of the american-style, spiced up yellow mustard that is Mu Tang? Did they think that his pineapple 📽️ Nuff Love 📽️ already had enough, despite the depth it got from its onions, garlic and tiny touch of smoke? Did they have the well known genetic aversion to coriander – The only thing that I could see keeping them away from his herby, lime-heavy, sweet, green, Pablo Diablo?
I mean, I get not recommending something as insane as 📽️ Gut Rot 📽️ to the general public but, in amongst the rest of his great range, the Ghost Town proved utterly forgettable to me.
Unlike The Ribman’s Holy F🔥🔥k, which I still remember enjoying to this day. In that case, it all comes down to personal preference between three very similar sauces and mine just happens to be the next one up. His slightly less sweary Christ on a Bike.
I guess it’s just my own preference, too, that I prefer Hot Face’s 📽️ Extreme Reaper 📽️ over their Scorpion Scorcher and Brighton Hot Stuff‘s Armageddon over the scorpion sauce that they make. I simply feel like they have bolder, richer flavours and I’m not as into the acidic, orangey taste that the scorpion brings.
If you’re more keen on the scorpion pepper’s flavour than the reaper’s, though, you’re likely to be the other way around, so just go for whatever suits you most. Or for one of their milder options, like the sweet, lightly smoky BBQ Bonnet and garlic light, ginger-heavy Ginger & Garlic that Hot Face make. Or the IPA-esque Hop Sauce and tangy, padron-filled Jalapeño sauce that BHS do.
Both are fantastic companies that are hard to go wrong with. As is Daddy Cool’s.
With Daddy Cool’s, as with Tubby Tom’s, they’ve gone for his generic-sounding Ghost Pepper sauce. And, while the roasted butternut in Steve Cooley’s concoction makes it the more memorable of the two, it’s still not nearly as addictive as his toasty but not crazy Ketch the Reaper, his mild, chipotle-enhanced “Broon” sauce or his limited edition 📽️ Blood Orange Bhut Jolokia 📽️.
If I had to recommend just one sauce from him, though, it would be the amazing Fatalii Attraction for which he’s known. On the low end of hot, it carries smooth, tropical fruit, mustard, citrus, garlic and a slight hint of smoke, alongside its lesser-known pepper, for a truly unique experience that really brings out the best in it.
Plus, it makes amazing egg mayo.
Also great on eggs are the salts that Wiltshire Chilli Farm makes. Especially, and somewhat ironically, the Naga one that you’ve all just seen.
Personally, though, I absolutely adore their Chipotle salt and, while I understand that neither of that pair can make it onto today’s list, I also think that we need to recognise that this isn’t Hot Ones. We don’t have to showcase them with their top end sweet chilli when their mild one is at least as good and their Mango Chilli Sauce is utterly amazing with fish, chicken and curry.
The mango is definitely my favourite but, in all honesty, the vast majority of their range are worth checking out. Just maybe steer clear of the Dark Habanero.
Screaming Chimp‘s chocolate habanero sauce – Their Mon-Key Lime – on the other hand, is rich, citrussy, zesty and just perfect for amping up meat and/or bean dishes of all kinds. If it weren’t a limited edition, it would be a shoo-in for this spot but, as is, I can see why Bauce Brothers opted for their original. Much as I preferred Vic’s ol’ Smoky, that sauce was very mild indeed and their audience probably wants hotter.
And, okay as that is, it’s something that I’d say Pepper Kitchen has fallen foul of, too. Because, although it might just be me, I find that there’s slightly more unwanted bitterness in their hot version than in either their medium heat or their superhot sauce. Not that there’s a vast flavour difference but every little bit is significant when you’ve got such a fine balance of scotch bonnet and mustard.
What about Hot-Headz’ 📽️ Man the F🔥🔥k Up 📽️, though? If they’re going for a specific heat demographic, why put a purée of nothing but world record peppers and salt on here? In fact, why consider it at all when it’s a long way from being a true sauce?
Well, that’s not my question to answer, I suppose, but I definitely don’t believe that it’s here on flavour grounds. Not when Hot-Headz have finely-crafted alternatives, like their gingery, sweet and sour Deadly Naga, hot and smoky Naga Chipotle and wonderfully rosemary-tinged Naga Mustard.
Plus, they even make actual sauces from their 📽️ scorpions 📽️ and 📽️ reapers 📽️, which bring out the flavours far better at an only slightly lower heat. Their Apple Chipotle Bourbon BBQ, having only just returned, has good reason not to be on here, though. Incredible as it is, it probably didn’t exist at the time of writing.
Do check it out, though, as its sweet, smoky barbecue elements, combined with cinnamon and a touch of apple, make it one of the best barbecue sauces on the market and my absolute favourite of Hot-Headz’ own products.
Their crisps are worth a look while you’re there, too.
And, while we’re still looking at products chosen for their heat, there’s exactly one green chilli item on this list and it isn’t The Garlic Farm’s Vampire Botherer.
Their hotter, red Vampire Slayer is great, too, but it’s not the distinctive, slightly creamy, heavily garlic but even more heavily jalapeño flavour of its (still quite strong) little brother. The one that, in my opinion, should hold its place.
But then, I like Dorset Chilli Shop’s green sauce the best, too. Even if its colour comes more from kiwi than from chilli, I’ve made it through more than my fair share of Dorset Meadows.
And heck, Howl at the Moon could probably benefit from showing off their less red sauce, too. Their Sound System blends tropical fruit, scotch bonnets and ginger really well.
Moving on from that, I make no secret of my favourite Burning Desire Foods product being their Chipotle Syrup yet, it’s the fruitier options that I like most in their sauces. The Burning Indulgence, Solaris and Critical Mass. I’m not sure which, exactly, would best represent the business but all three edge out the Bad Juju for me.
Just as my cameraman and social media manager insists Angus & Oink’s fruit sauce – Their Voodoo Mango – is the best that he’s ever eaten. Not the Phat Taco.
And that’s all the ones that I’d put up an argument against but which sauces do I genuinely think don’t deserve a place?
Well there’s Kan Kun’s, which is vinegary, acidic, fairly light on the peppers and brings nothing else to the table. And there’s Doctor Burnorium’s Psycho Juice, which is more painful than enjoyable, to me.
Rock a Doodle Do haven’t exactly impressed me, so far, but I’ve never tried the sauce on show here, so I can’t say for sure. And Chilli Pepper Pete‘s Dragon’s Blood probably doesn’t belong on a list like this but the picture makes me uncertain on whether it’s even meant to be. It could be that they just mislabelled one of the other sauces in the Dragon’s Blood line, some of which were utterly delicious.
As, for that matter, was Doctor Burnorium’s chocolate.
There are a few other companies on the list that I’ve featured but I either don’t know their chosen sauce or don’t remember it well enough to judge, so I’ll leave today’s assessment there. You can always check out the original list if you need more recommendations, as it holds plenty more than just what I’ve mentioned.
It’s a great list chock full of equally amazing companies, even if I don’t agree with all of its decisions. And hey, if there’s anything on there that you’d like to see me review in full, let me know in the comments or via my “Contact Me” page.