Hey folks, I hope you’re ready for another heaping helping of hot because, this week, I’m back with not one, not two but three fiery jerk blends, featuring everything from the traditional scotch bonnet to one of the UK’s absolute hottest. And every single one of them comes from a company that I know and love!
Hot Pods, Alkemio Kitchen, Daddy Cool’s and even Cliff, the Devon Chilli Man, are all represented among today’s trio and I’m looking forward to the lot. But, even so, one particular product stands out. And not just in its appearance…
Daddy Cool’s and Devon Chilli Man’s collaboration is a rub, rather than a sauce, and that immediately sets it apart from the rest. The packet that it comes in being a completely different shape from the bottles, even if it and the Jolt use the same three colours. A classic caribbean blend of red, green and yellow.
But, honestly, Daddy Cool’s packaging isn’t anything too impressive, this time. Its palm trees hint at the product’s island inspiration, yet the majority of the label is taken up by a black-backed set of nutritional and contact information. And, necessary as that may be, it’s not going to entice anyone to buy it.
No, The real selling point of this rub – Or, at least, the reason why I bought it – is the smell. The bold, heady aroma of woody spices and savoury, fruity chilli, with hints of green herb, unable to be contained by the plastic packaging.
Had I seen it online, I might have passed this item over but, in the corner of my local chilli shop, its presence was truly captivating. And, when I read the ingredients, it only got more interesting:
Allspice, Sea Salt, Coconut Sugar, Onion Powder, 7 Pot Katie Chilli, Garlic, Lime Juice Powder, Lemon Pepper, Red Chilli Flakes, Smoked Paprika, Ginger Nutmeg, Thyme, Sage, Cinnamon.
An extensive mix of traditional ingredients and a few unique twists but what really stands out, to me, is that pepper. A UK strain, not the traditional scotch bonnet, but one that should fit in perfectly, all the same. Because, while most of Katie and Lucy’s publicity came from their heat – Potentially being the hottest peppers outside the US, prior to the Dragons Breath – they’re also very much a part of the 7-Pot/Pod family. A family hailing from trinidad and known, among chilli enthusiasts, for providing some of the most seriously fruity superhots.
Daddy Cool knows what he’s doing and I expect great things from both him and his use of Cliff’s chillies. Yet I do still expect some serious heat from them, so I’m going to leave this rub ’til last and begin, instead, with Alkemio Kitchen’s offering.
Fergus’ Plum, Cola, Cinnamon, Rose, Scotch Bonnet makes use of something far milder and more traditional, branching out, instead, with all of its other namesake ingredients. And, while its labelling is as plain as all of his others, it sure does look like something special on my spoon:
Glossy, like his Black Garlic, Chipotle, Tamarind, Chocolate, yet not nearly as dark in appearance. The sauce’s rich, red-brown colour this time allowing us to actually see the tiny specks within.
Once again, they add a little bit of textural intrigue to the otherwise smooth sauce, yet they appear to be even smaller grains than in his last. They aren’t as obvious in the feel and, even after downing my spoonful, I can’t tell which of the ingredients the actually are.
Are they the spices – The classic combo of cinnamon, allspice and clove – or are they a finely blended mix of chipotle and charred bells? I have no way of knowing but, honestly, it doesn’t really matter.
It’s the same, thick and sticky blend of cooked fruit and spices, either way. With the same blend of sweetness and tang.
In many ways, it resembles a ketchup but, despite smelling a lot like it, that rich, savoury, cooked down fruit is not tomato. It’s a mixture of plums and roasted peppers. Including scotch bonnets.
And, likewise, it may share a ketchup’s brown sugar and vinegar blend but some of that vinegar is balsamic. A darker, more syrupy sort which brings out the earthy, almost nutty taste of the cola. Allowing it, in turn, to pair with the winter spices and smoked chilli.
But the sweet, delicate and almost fruity top notes of the rose are completely unique. Far from being perfume, due to how they’ve been cooked, yet still a recognisable, lighter and more refreshing quality that really takes the edge off of an item that’s otherwise all rich and woody flavours.
This sauce isn’t a true jerk but I’m sure that you didn’t need me to tell you that. Its ingredients list makes it immediately obvious that it’s its own unique thing:
Plum, onion, roasted pepper, scotch bonnet, chipotle, cola syrup, onion, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rose water, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate.
But what what I can tell you is that it’s still very jerk-like.
It contains all of the same spices, supported by the caribbean sarsaparilla root in its cola, and its plum ketchup base performs a similar role to the tomato one found in many jerk sauces. Only with a better fruit to complement the scotch bonnet.
It does lack the herbs – The thyme that normally offsets the sweet and woody spices with its own, more savoury, green notes – but its rose water performs a similar role in providing contrast and balancing out the final flavour.
Alkemio Kitchen’s Plum, Cola, Cinnamon, Rose, Scotch Bonnet is an extremely well crafted product.
One which I’d happily throw over chicken, like any other jerk, but would actually rather use for things like pork and duck, where its sweeter, fruitier tones will really come into their own. Or, like a barbecue sauce, over my enchiladas and macaroni cheese.
And, yes, it is the mildest of today’s trio. But, even then, it’s far from mild.
It takes a second for the chillies to have any effect, at all, but they almost instantly reach the top of my
rating, when they do. Their prickly, habanero-like heat catching at the back of my tongue and working its way down into my throat. Carrying with it the subtle smoke of the chipotle.
Easily the hottest thing that Fergus has made yet, so handle it with care but do give it a go, if you’re up to such intensity. It’s well worth it!
Our next one, however, is not its maker’s hottest. Not nearly.
Hot Pods may make one of the mildest jams that I’ve ever tried but they also make some serious superhot products. And, as much as their 📽️Quarantine📽️ had me hiccuping and their Rampage set my nose aflow, I’ve not even touched their strongest sauce. And I’m not going to today.
Their Jolt does say that it’s 21% chilli, which is the highest that I’ve ever had from them, but it’s not their usual blend and I don’t buy the claim that it’s “mixed super hot chillies”. At least, not entirely.
When I raise this one to my lips, the similar sting and tongue-based heat suggest that it has more than just a spice set in common with the previous product. Even if it does spread out rather more and take rather longer to reach its higher,
A burn which I’d say is just a touch below the Quarantine but lingers for so much longer, along with the tang of its onions, vinegar and dry spices. None of which are as balanced by sweetness, this time around.
In fact, there’s very little going on beyond what I’ve just reeled off, because the main flavour is just a bolder, more spice-forward version of that same aftertaste. Not that I’m complaining.
It’s a well-balanced set of jerk spices with a very enjoyable – At least to a hardened chilli enthusiast, like myself – heat. And, while it may be a bit more acidic than I’d normally enjoy, that’ll cook off right away, if used as a marinade and it’s equally unnoticeable when made into a jerk mayo, for chicken, tuna or chips.
The Jolt isn’t the most appetising of sauces, in terms of its appearance, but that rough and chunky, spice-filled texture, rendered in murky shades of brown and black, is what a real jerk looks like. And it’s well worth looking past first impressions for the kind of full on flavour that this product provides.
Onion, cider vinegar, fermented and aged mixed super hot chillies (21%), water, brown sugar, garlic, spices, salt.
It’s an excellent example of its genre and I strongly recommend giving it a try. Though I do still have one more product to go and, despite my thorough exploration of it, I still don’t understand the scribbled out man on the front of this one. So perhaps Daddy Cool’s lack of art is for the best.
His jerk takes a little more work for me to show off, though. Which is why I’ve saved it for last, despite it not actually being the strongest.
It’s a rub, as I mentioned up top. A blend of spices that looks pretty good on my spoon but definitely isn’t intended to be eaten that way.
Though, that said, even the raw spice mix doesn’t taste bad. It has a slightly sweet, slightly salty, woody, herby flavour with fruity, red chilli undertones which are definitely reminiscent of the scotch bonnet. Even if it doesn’t contain any.
The chilli that it does contain is far hotter and provides a fearsome
heat that’s slow to grow but long to linger, leaving an intense, warm glow around the front of my mouth. One which even tingles my gums slightly, like some of my favourite rocoto sauce, though I’m pretty sure that it’s actually the subtle, anaesthetic tingle of the vast quantity of allspice doing that. Especially as the gum heat seems to cook off, when I make it up properly.
Mixed up with the juice of a lime and enough olive oil to form a nice, medium paste, this product resembles the last sauce. Yet, even with the added sharpness of its lime, it’s reduced to a high
burn, which only qualifies as today’s second hottest. Though it comes with an almost tropical tang, which I do rather enjoy.
I worked it into my chicken and left it to marinate, overnight, letting that acid tenderise it slightly and the flavours sink in, before roasting. An absolutely mouthwatering scent wafting from the oven as the spices did their thing.
The end results looked a little like this and they were exquisite!
Full of juice and all of the same earthy, green herb, fruity chilli and woody spice flavours. Now simply all the better for their rich poultry base and toasty top notes. The heat reduced a lot and missing both sharpness and gum tingle, yet still a good strong
in the front of my mouth, with both a long lead in and an even longer lead out. Gentle, yet firm.
It takes a little more work than the sauces, since it’s not really the sort of product which you can just pour over a ready cooked meal, but the end results make it well worth the effort. And, if you’re not fond of chicken, it’s also great with fish or spuds.
I’m extremely pleased with Daddy Cool’s Jerk Rub and what Devon Chilli Man’s 7-pot katie has done for it. But I’m also just as fond of Alkemio Kitchen’s scotch bonnet and chipotle-based twist on the genre, with its barbecue-esque elements and touch of rose. Or Hot Pods’ straight forward, yet stunning, mixed chilli Jolt.
All three are outstanding, caribbean-style chilli products that I would thoroughly, thoroughly recommend.