Hey folks, I’ve had this review in the back of my mind for a while now and, with so much sweet stuff on the site lately, I reckon now’s the perfect time for it. The ideal moment for the savoury garlic comparison that I’ve been planning ever since a garlic sauce proved my favourite in my tri-ginger tournament.
So, let’s meet the contestants, shall we?
On the left, we have Torchbearer Sauces’ Garlic Reaper, as seen on Hot One’s eighth season. Probably the hottest of the bunch and definitely the palest, creamiest looking.
Then, on the right, we see Fire Foods’ Fire Garlic, with its equally to the point name and the bold, yet uninformative, branding that we’ve seen on all of the company’s products.
And finally, in the middle, lies Chilliscrumptious’ First Date. A sauce who’s packaging could say everything or nothing, depending on how much you’re willing to turn the bottle. Here it is from a couple different angles to show you what I mean:
The art, company name and sauce name are all on different sides, making this bottle a real pain in the neck to display, but the garlic bulbs in the background certainly ram home what it’s all about and I did love their coffee sauce.
So I have to know, how does this little scotch bonnet number stack up against the ghost and reaper of its equally garlic-themed competitors?
Getting right into the tasting, I can confirm that the First Date is, indeed, the mildest of the three, providing only a tiny tingle on my tongue. Yet, when it hits my throat, moments later, it does so with an unexpected
that makes it rather stronger than our last Chilliscrumptios item.
It goes down just as smoothly, though, despite its thick and chunky appearance.
Next up to the plate, the Fire Garlic proves far thinner and has a slight graininess to its consistency. But, even so, it’s the ghostly grow of warmth, as it works its way back, that dominates the mouth feel from this one. A sensation that peaks a few seconds after swallowing, at a high
that makes it a hot sauce, yet still leaves it a far cry from what naga normally has to offer.
Which leaves the Reaper Garlic free to dominate the superhot space. And boy does it!
Torchbearer’s blend does its best to hold back the heat of its carolina chillies with a creamy, rapeseed oil emulsion but it definitely doesn’t hold back on the reapers, themselves. With the world record peppers as its first ingredient, there’s little that can be done to tame their crazy
That creamy taste and texture can only hold it at bay for a moment or two before my whole mouth feels their strong, dull sting and experiences the sourness that comes along with.
I don’t like that sourness. It’s an unpleasant ending to an otherwise delightfully german-styled creamy garlic sauce, which I feel puts its punchy garlic before its chillies, at least in terms of flavour, while still letting their mellow red notes come through, just a tad.
I also understand, though, that not everyone experiences those sour notes from the carolina reaper. They seem like they might have a genetic component to them, like coriander and sprouts do, so, if you don’t taste that part of the pepper, you’ll enjoy this sauce far more than I do.
It is, after all, a delicious blend of intense flavour and intense burn that I otherwise adore over chicken, chips, roasties and mushrooms. Or just about anything else in need of a creamy garlic hit.
Interestingly, though, it’s not the most intensely garlic flavoured item on show today. No, that crown would have to go to the mildest of the three – The First Date.
The First Date is beetroot-based and gets its name from some questionable dating advice that its maker was given in his youth, not from any actual fruit content.
It’s super smooth and almost melts in the mouth, releasing subtle sweetness and strong, roasted garlic taste every step of the way. It carries the same scotch bonnet flavour from the Java Hot, too, only without the extra coffee and spices and as something more of an undertone, now.
The beetroot, I feel, does very little for its taste but a tonne for its texture and it carries the other flavours excellently. So, if mild bonnet and intense garlic is your thing, this is definitely the sauce for you and definitely my favourite of the bunch.
Especially when mixed into soups and stews or paired with root vegetables that can match its roasted richness.
But just because the First Date is my favourite doesn’t mean that I dislike the Fire Garlic. The Fire Garlic is just different and one whiff will tell you why.
The aroma coming from the bottle isn’t garlic. It contains garlic but, first and foremost, it’s curry.
An interesting, sweet-ish curry smell, part way between japanese curry roux and a dōpiaza. Only, rather than onions, it’s garlic for the alliums in this one. Odd yet oh so enticing.
Unfortunately, however, the mix of sweetness and tang in the taste detracts from its curry flavour a tad, meaning that it isn’t quite as enjoyable in the mouth as on the nose. It’ll still work wonders over chips or sausages, though and add a bit of extra kick to anything already curried.
Today’s three are all good sauces and all feel like they have a bit of a different target audience.
The First Date is for pure roasted garlic enthusiasts who like chilli but don’t necessarily want too high a heat. The Fire Garlic for those who want more intensity out of their chip shop sauce, in both heat and flavour terms. And the Reaper Garlic is just intensity all the way, with a german-style creaminess, rather than any curried quality.
Both the First Date and the Fire Garlic are a bit sweeter than expected but not nearly enough so to stop them seeing savoury use. So I’d say that today’s haul was quite the resounding success and I’d be happy to recommend any of them.
Here’s what goes into the First Date:
Garlic, Raw Beetroot, Scotch Bonnets, Red Chillies, Honey, Olive Oil, White Wine Vinegar, Water.
The Fire Garlic:
Spirit Vinegar , Chilli Mash (Sugar , Water , Garlic. Chilli, Salt, Distilled Vinegar , Thickener(E1442), Flavour Enhancer(E621)) Garlic, Curry Powder , Naga Chilli,Xanthan Gum CONTAINS: MUSTARD
Where E1442 is a modified starch and E621 is the classic monosodium glutamate.
And the Reaper Garlic:
Carolina Reaper Pepper, Garlic, Canola Oil, Water, Distilled White Vinegar, Lime Juice, Granulated Garlic, Mustard Powder, Chilli Powder, Salt
Where “canola oil” is simply the american name for rapeseed.