So last week’s post may have had the word “present” in the title but today it’s actually my birthday. And you know what that means?
Yep, it’s time for me to suffer for my craft, once again. To push on through the pain of some of the country’s hottest sauces, far in excess of anything that Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm could offer.
Because, by this point, it’s a well-established tradition that I celebrate with something extract-based. A single product – Or maybe more – that defies nature’s limits, using pure, concentrated capsaicin.
This year, the company in question is one which I know all too well. The ever-enjoyable Badger’s Artisan Foods, whose extract offering caught my attention mere moments too late for the previous festivities but will be on full display today.
Here it is – Their Badger X:
A small, fifty mil bottle but, if it’s truly up there with the world’s hottest, those fifty mililitres are going to go a long way.
The container in question looks alright on my screen but the real weight of it only comes across in person. And I mean that both literally and figuratively.
The print weight – The intensity of the colour and, quite possibly, the actual amount of ink – on the label is far more than the company’s own photos would imply. Which creates a stark, striking contrast between its strong, black background, pure white text and the red surrounding their usual logo.
An image that, this time around, is only revealed by the fake claw marks of some savage beast, tearing through the darkness.
But, in addition to that, this is also one hefty little bottle. Heavier even than some of my full one-fifty mil products.
Which seems like an odd thing to notice but, as I found when I used to modify nerf guns, a little bit of extra weight can add a lot of respect to how you handle an object. Whether you’re conscious of it or not.
Were the same sauce in a thin, plastic bottle – Even one with the exact same appearance – I don’t think that it would be anywhere near as imposing. And that sense of sense of strength is what both sells and warns people to be sensible with such unnaturally hot sauces.
So yes, Badger’s Artisan Foods have nailed the packaging. But have they nailed the contents?
Well, looking at their ingredients, it seems like I may actually have already answered that question. Here’s what goes into their Badger X:
Mango Nectar, Lemon Juice (Sulphites), Onion, Vinegar, Capsaicin Extract, Sugar, Yellow Super Hot Chilli, Bhut Jolokia Chilli, Olive Oil, Garlic, Salt, Lemon Peel, Coriander Seeds, 1ml extract at 6%.
And here’s the old list for Badger’s Mango & Lemon:
Mango Nectar, Lemon Juice (Sulphites), Onion, Vinegar, Sugar, Ripe Chilli, Red Chilli, Olive Oil, Garlic, Salt, Lemon Peel, Coriander Seeds.
See what I mean?
Sure, today’s product may bold its brackets differently and say a little more about its chillies but, aside from that, the only difference is the extract, itself. This is just a suped up version of their previous sauce.
So why are the colour and texture so different?
Honestly, I’m not really sure. Chilli extract is usually a dark, black paste, which would certainly thicken the sauce but would it really make it that much redder? And not greyed out at all?
It’s curious, to say the least, but that thicker texture does highlight the smoothness of the mango. Providing the product with more of a cream of tomato soup-like consistency than the thinner one of the Mango & Lemon. Yet the flavour of the fruit remains.
My tasting begins with sweet mango, instantly paired with a burst of bright and zesty, yellow citrus. Not quite, perhaps, as sherbert-like as before still very much the same base flavours. Until the extract takes hold.
Harsh and dark and chemical, its own bitterness builds upon that of the lemon peel, while the sharp juice leads seamlessly into one of those almost gash-like burns. A serious
strength sensation which feels almost as if my tongue has been sliced across its centre. Accompanied by a similarly strong burn around the back of my mouth and a slightly lesser, dull throat fire.
Some semblance of the original item remains but it’s lost all of its subtlety. So I can’t say that my previous thoughts on it hold true.
Badger’s Mango & Lemon is a fantastic sauce but it’s a lot easier to mess up the recipe than I’d imagined. And all that it seems to take is sixty-thousand scoville of artificial heat.
But I’ve loved everything else that the company’s made, so I decided to give them another chance at the extract. I went ahead and got their actual hottest – The Badger xXx.
Its packaging may be the same but those two extra Xs fill out the space on front of the label rather better and, around the side, there’s an entirely different ingredients list. One which says:
Peppers, Vinegar, Onion, Carolina Reaper & Trinidad Scorpion Chillies, Sugar, Garlic, Salt, Olive Oil, Fennel Seeds, Black Peppercorns, Mustard Seeds, Corindar Seeds. 9 million capsaicin extract added at 2%.
And doesn’t seem to quite match any of the current Badger’s Artisan Foods range. Though it is ever so close to their Reaper’s Revenge.
It’s thicker and redder than the single X sauce but that comes as no surprise, to me. What with its far higher red pepper content and complete lack of other fruit.
No, what’s interesting, here, is the pulpy consistency and those little black specks of heavily toasted seeds and spices. Visually nothing like the smooth paste of my previous spoonful and quite dissimilar in feel, as well.
The triple X is a sweet sauce, sticky from all of its sugar, yet it’s closer to a homemade ketchup than to the common thai-style. It both feels and tastes as though it uses a roughly-blended, tomato base – Despite being completely tomato-free – with a sweet, yet savoury, acidic fruitiness being the most immediately obvious flavour.
That flavour is then quickly followed up and built upon by the spices, though, with the freshness of the coriander and the slight woodiness of its seeds working ever so well as a bridge between those vibrant, fruity tones and the darker, more herbal fennel.
It’s unique, it’s delicious and it does a far better job of masking the chemical content than the mango.
I can still taste the extract in this xXx but it’s subtle and what little I do works with the spices. It’s not offensively bitter and jarring, like in the single X.
And, honestly, you probably won’t notice it, either. Because it’s only there for an instant, before the
mouth and tongue heat really starts to overwhelm my senses.
It’s not the absolute 🔥hottest thing that I’ve ever had🔥 but the Badger xXx still has more than enough firepower to floor me, if I’m not careful with it. It’s still very much an unnaturally hot extract sauce and, while I’ve been showing you spoonfuls, they were purely for demonstration purposes.
I poured them to highlight each product’s colour and texture but my actual tastings were done with a cocktail stick and I would strongly recommend that anyone doing a straight sample of either do it the same way.
These sauces are very capable of messing you up and, if that’s what you’re looking for, they’ll both do the job. But the triple X variety also tastes great and that’s not easy to find, in an extract sauce.
So, while can’t say that I’m fond of the single, Badger’s xXx gets a wholehearted recommendation from me!