Hey folks, it’s that time of year again. The first thursday of september, on which I write my yearly homage to the Hot Ones YouTube show, designed to give you all an alternative and far more UK-friendly version of their ten sauce line-up.
Last year, I went a little off the rails with the most out there product selection that I could but, for today’s fifth round, I want to be a tiny bit more down to earth. To still pull a whole host of delicious finds from out of my review catalogue, yet also stick a little closer to the real show and bring back a few old favourite producers, in the process.
So, with that in mind, I’m going to kick things off with one of my all time favourite companies and see how things go from there.
First on this year’s list is the Chilli Alchemist, who’s loss was sorely felt, last year, causing me to fill the opening slot with Tom’s Curious Sauces‘ Chipotle, instead. That sauce is incredible and makes for such a bold and delicious, smoky number but, this time around, the Alchemist are finally back. And they, too, have 📽️a fantastic smoke sauce📽️.
Ketchupy, yet full of adobo spices, their simply-named “Smoke” will be kicking things off for year five. Because I really do think that chipotle is the perfect way to get great flavour into the first spot. Without too much in the way of accompanying heat.
Whereas sauce number two gets to add a touch more spice and go all the way to the mild end of habanero, with Rad Dude Food’s Fermented Chilli Hot Sauce. A rather simpler feature than last year’s garlic-forward, scotch bonnet product, yet one which shows the classic, louisiana wing sauce style in the best light that I’ve ever seen. Proving far fresher and more full of complexity than Tabasco, even if it does play a very similar role.
But it’s also not the only habanero item highlighted by this year’s list as, while its flavour may be quite reminiscent of yellow scotch bonnet, Haskhell’s Pineapple Curry assures me that it uses the same chillies as those rad dudes.
It’s perhaps not quite as tropical as our previous third sauce and definitely not as pale, yet it’s still just as fruit-forward and island-inspired. Only now it’s more of a caribbean curry than a coconut sauce.
A bold, pineapple and onion taste with an intense spice palette, to match. I expect a lot of good reactions, from this one. Just nothing quite as overblown as what you’ll see in the back half.
Sometimes, though, it’s not the heat or the flavour that you need to leave an impression. As Bravado Spice Co. proved, when they were on the show, the mere look of a Ghost Pepper & Blueberry stained wing can be quite imposing. But the flavour wasn’t there, in theirs.
Which is why I’m oh so happy to be british, today, and to be able to offer you a far less vinegary take on those same berry flavours. Courtesy of my old friend, Tom.
And, as much as I was unimpressed by Bravado’s product, The deep red pepper, the wine-like cooked berries and the fragrant hint of black pepper really are an excellent combination. So, while I did pick Tom’s product for its unorthodox appearance, it’s also one of my personal favourites.
Whereas Hot Pods’ Jolt is far less out there and, honestly, a tad less visually appealing, too. But it’s a classic flavour done right. So, how could I not include such a solid jerk sauce, for use on chicken?
I simply saved it for wing five because it’s a good deal hotter than just about any other such product.
Sure, it’s a little bit milder than the Rampage, which we had, from the same company, last year. But it’s also a full slot sooner. And we’re kicking things up again, with Daddy Cool’s, as we head into number six.
By this point, we’ve covered chipotle, habanero, scotch bonnet and even ghost. We’re two product’s deep into the land of the superhots, so it’s time to bust out the world records. Starting with the trinidad in Steve’s 📽️Scorpion Annihilation (Finish Him)📽️.
A rich and potent, plum-based, scorpion pepper sauce. With a few other chillies thrown in, just to enhance the taste.
It’s not the absolute strongest showing from the scorpion, since I wanted something that’d still bring flavour to the table, beyond that of the pepper, but it sure will let you know that you’re into the second half. And our next one, actually featured on Hot Ones, will do the same.
Singularity Sauce Co.’s Reapers & Mangos took the tenth spot, in the last episode of season fourteen, but, here on my site, things are a little different. Because I rate heat based on what I feel, not the maker’s numbers.
Scoville heat units are calculated from dry samples, not fresh peppers, and your average pepper is eighty percent water. So, while the world’s hottest carolina reaper may be a little over two point two million scoville, no fresh one is coming near that. They’ll be around four fifty thousand, at most.
Make a sauce from that and you’re losing another thirty percent or more to vinegar, salt and whatever else you might need to make it both pourable and shelf-stable. So, when someone tells you that their all natural reaper rates over a million, you know that they’re full of it.
A dry rating of the product may turn up slightly better values but the fact of the matter is that a good habanero can rival any reaper sauce, clocking in at up to three fifty thousand. A wholly underwhelming number, when compared to Hot Ones’ past extract items.
For that reason, I cannot, in good faith, end my line-up on a natural product. I never have and I never will do. Because my selection is supposed to be ascending heat order and it has to end with something that can beat the real show’s number eight.
With that in mind, this is the last natural sauce of the year. One chock full of carolina reapers and the subtle undertones of fermented fruit. One which nears the peak of what our current record peppers can muster and, while a little shy of 📽️The Last Dab📽️ , is still one of the strongest things to ever escape my homeland.
Strong enough, even, that you’d be unlikely to notice the difference that a new potential record might bring. So, instead of jumping to Jigsaw or Armageddon, once again, we’re going for Burning Desire Food’s insane, extract-based barbecue.
The Liquidator is just made for wing challenges! Quite literally, in fact, as I’ve talked about, in depth, with its creator.
It’s a short run, bourbon and reaper barbecue sauce, made up for whenever Jason has an event to back and rarely available, outside of when you catch him at events. Which, unfortunately, makes it a little hard to get your hands on, right now, but hopefully we’ll be able to see him again, this year, and experience its long, multifaceted and genuinely quite extreme burn, once more.
Because it might taste a little too chemical to be a part of his main range but it’s not a patch on Da Bomb’s Beyond Insanity. There’s actually something enjoyable to this one, in behind the pain.
Which I try and ensure is true for all of my extract offerings. While also bringing you something new each year.
This year, the ninth spot goes to Phwoar Koff and Dai, from Chilli of the Valley. A simple, slightly pineappley, red chilli sauce that masks its extract well, while also more than doubling the Liquidator’s heat.
And, if that wasn’t enough, we’re going to end on the wildest number ten yet: The Badger xXx.
Another sauce that’s subtle on its extract but anything but on that extract’s insane burn, with strong sweetness and spices, locked away behind its dangerous-looking label and within a small, glass bottle.
Exactly the level of honest and imposing that I like to see for my final wing!
Here’s how the full line-up looks, this year:
#2 – Rad Dude Food’s Fermented Chilli Hot Sauce (2.5/11)
#3 – Haskhell’s Pineapple Curry Sauce (3.5/11)
#5 – Hot Pod’s Jolt (6/11)
#7 – Singularity Sauce Co.’s Reapers & Mangoes (9/11)
#10 – Badger’s Artisan Foods’ Badger xXx (58/11)
And I’d say it’s a good one. Featuring many of my favourite producers, with a wide array of flavours and even a real, Hot Ones sauce, from the land of my birth.
So, for fans in the UK, like me, I sure hope that you’re prepared to give it a go!