Hey folks, happy tuesday!
As I mentioned in 📽️a recent video📽️, there was a bit of a mix-up with my last shipment from Grim Reaper Foods. Everything that I’d ordered arrived on time, intact and of the high quality that I’ve come to expect from Russell but the free challenge chocolate that he’d promised me mysteriously morphed into something else:
A lemon and yellow habanero marmalade, infused with gin and tonic.
A product which has only just made it onto his website and was, at the time it arrived, just as unreleased as his upcoming “Chocolate by Death”. Yet it’s not nearly of the same challenge calibre.
Russell’s spiced-up gin marmalade is a flavour-focussed preserve, not an extreme heat item, so it’s far more suited to a serious, written review. One which I intend to give it, today, alongside its blood orange brother.
I’m going to take a look at that blood orange and cranberry blend first, though, since its red orange may be one of my favourite fruit but the lemon and gin is still today’s special feature. I want to save the fancy new product for a little later on.
The “Blood Orange Cranberry Marmalade with Bourbon Whiskey and Habanero”, to give it its full title, is far simpler in appearance than in name.
There’s no flaming jar or representation of the grim reaper on the front of this label. Only a simple, mildly-stylised rendition of the fruit and pepper within. All glowing just slightly to stand out against the black and orange, gradient background.
It’s not what I’ve come to expect from Grim Reaper Foods but it does look sleek and stylish. Especially with the company’s signature metallic packaging behind it.
And it’s not as if I can’t see where this style has come from, either, as it seems highly reminiscent of their Scotch Bonnet Sauce.
Is this marmalade also made for mass market consumption and use in highstreet pubs and restaurants? I have no idea. But, this time around, it’s its only packaging. No double label shenanigans here.
Perhaps the taste will tell us?
That’s one thick and chunky preserve, for sure, and its colour is deeper, darker and redder than any other marmalade that I’ve had. The blood orange content is clearly visible but so, too, are the shreds of its peel, suspended within.
Shreds that all seem quite orange, compared to the chunks of red chilli skin that I can see. Maybe the habaneros inside aren’t the orange ones on the label.
Whatever they are, though, they sure add a healthy kick. They just don’t do it right away.
No, their high
creeps in late, after the sweet cranberries and bitter orange peel have both faded away, leaving only the fragrant zest and the chilli, itself behind. One which, yes, does indeed taste like a red habanero, albeit only subtly so.
To me, this is a marmalade for newcomers to marmalade. One which definitely has that bittersweet blend of sugar and rind but eases you into it with sweet, red berries upfront. And its red pepper and orange pair rather better with that initial, more jam-like flavour than the usual lemon.
To an extent, this marmalade does feel like it was made to have more mass market appeal than most but that sharp, tingly, habanero tongue burn is still a bit above what I’d expect a casual diner to reach for at breakfast.
This a chilli-lover’s introductory marmalade, even for those who don’t seek a strong heat (since toast will tame it, somewhat), but I wouldn’t use it as a marmalade-lover’s introduction to chilli.
And, as for the bourbon fans among you, the flavour of the alcohol is there but it’s subtle. It adds depth but it’s nowhere near a main flavour, so I wouldn’t buy it for the whiskey content, alone.
Still, I like this one a lot. I’m a big fan of blood orange and Russell’s marmalde highlights the fruit well, while also being a peel-based preserve that suits my own, not-so-fond-of-bitter palate.
It does that job well and will certainly liven up my breakfasts. As well as pairing with rich meats, like a regular cranberry sauce would, come winter time.
I’d certainly recommend it but what about his other flavour? The Yellow Lemon Habanero Marmalade with Viper Gin and Tonic that he’s just released? Today’s real star of the show?
That one has a similar texture to it but a much lighter, mellower shade of yellow, some less visible shreds of yellow chilli and a not insignificant aroma of gin.
Its flavour is more immediately and strongly bitter, to the point where it rivals a standard lemon marmalade, yet at least some of that comes from the quinine in the tonic water, rather than the fruit. And, while the sweetness is still there, it doesn’t take the forefront, like it did in the last one, meaning that there’s a lot less delay on its
A slightly throatier but still sharp and habanero-y burn that comes in almost immediately, yet still takes a little time to reach its peak.
This marmalade is a fair bit stronger than the last, in all respects, and this level of bitterness would not normally be for me but I’m won over by the just how well the juniper in the gin comes through and pairs with both the fragrant freshness of the fruit and the sharpness of the pepper.
Plus, it turns out that I really like sweetened tonic water. When it’s in something with enough sugar to mask its own bitterness and carbon dioxide taste, I actually find quinine quite delightful.
I was surprised to have liked it in chocolate a fortnight ago but I don’t think that I’d fully taken the revelation in until now.
So yes, I like Russell, of Grim Reaper Foods’ blood orange marmalade – That was practically guaranteed, given how much I like both the fruit and his products – but I like his lemon one even more. And that was much less expected.
However, I would still thoroughly recommend either. Here’s what goes into them.
For the blood orange:
Sugar, Blood Orange (13%), Seville Orange, Water, Cranberries (7%), Bourbon Whiskey (3%), Habanero Chilli (2%), Lemon, Apple Pectin.
And in the lemon:
Sugar, Lemon (26%), Tonic Water (10%), Water, Viper Gin (5%), Yellow Habanero (1%).