2021’s Christmas Recap

Hello again, everyone, merry christmas and happy holidays. I hope that you’re all experiencing a wonderful start to this year’s winter season.

Today, we have my classic recap post, for the first thursday of december, where I take another look at everything that we’ve tried, this the year, and give you my thoughts on which would or wouldn’t make great gifts. Along with a few things which you might not have seen, just yet, because I did take a sponsorship deal, or two, this year.

Sponsored Stuff

First up, in the โ€œSponsored Stuffโ€ category, we have the return of The Chilli Project. A company who sent me plenty of amazing products to taste test and talk about, last year. But, this time around, I have actual affiliate links to use. So you’ll be seeing the little money bag icon next to each of their items, just to let you know that I profit from each and every purchase.

Unlike with Alkemio Kitchen, who I had only a brief partnership with, in order to support their kickstarter, and will now be treating like everyone else, in the sections down below. After all, their reviews featured on this very site, while my writing for The Chilli Project has only appeared on theirs.

I’m actually working on covering a new batch of Chilli Project products right now, in between my blog reviews. Including a delightfully smooth ๐Ÿ’ฐBirdy Verde๐Ÿ’ฐ, for lovers of green chilli and mexican food, an earthy, pumpkin-based ๐Ÿ’ฐGhost Pepper Chilli Sauce๐Ÿ’ฐ, a seriously hot, carolina reaper ๐Ÿ’ฐBlood Eagle๐Ÿ’ฐ, for those interested in the world record, and both ๐Ÿ’ฐFatalii Chilli Salt๐Ÿ’ฐ and ๐Ÿ’ฐNaga Chilli Salt๐Ÿ’ฐ, if you’d rather seasonings.

Once again, I can vouch for the quality of the lot and I’ll be including them all, where appropriate, in the other categories to come. Such as:

The Extreme Items

Where Badger’s Chilli Kitchen, formerly known as Badger’s Artisan Foods, made the absolute hottest of the year. Yet their Badger xXx, being completely unnatural, will not suit everyone. Even if it did taste far less of extract than the milder Badger X. Besides, unless you know the recipient well, I would generally advise against giving anything beyond what real chillies can create, anyway.

When it comes to the natural stuff, though, this year’s was interesting because the hottest sauce we saw was actually Tropical Sun’s sixty percent Carolina Reaper sauce. Which is available in supermarkets. Albeit only a select few.

Combine that with McIlhenny Co.’s Tabasco Scorpion Sauce and Alice Cooper’s Poison and it’s been a weird year for the extreme heat range. Yet I can’t help but recommend the big names when they do well, like this. Even if I, personally, prefer a more artisan sauce, like The Chilli Project‘s bloody mary-inspired ๐Ÿ’ฐBlood Eagle๐Ÿ’ฐ, or one where you can taste the unique flavour of a rare superhot, like The Chilli Pepper Company‘s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธNaga Viper sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ or Chilli Bob‘s sharp and fruity Chimera Chilli Sauce.

And, if you or whoever you’re buying for would rather that that chilli flavour took a back seat to something even more distinctive, consider Chilli of the Valley‘s Black Death. A sauce with a stunningly bold black garlic taste, despite keeping most of the reaper’s intense burn.

You may also consider Singularity Sauce Co.’s Reapers & Mangoes, which has the added benefit of being an obscure, UK-made Hot Ones feature. Yet its fruit is far more subtle than CotV’s garlic and, while The Somerset Chilli Co.’s is a bit more pronounced in The Circus, it also has the most sharp and unpleasant burn that I’ve ever felt. So save that one for the โ€œfriendsโ€ that you hate or who like to suffer.

I’d say the same, as well, for Paqui’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธOne Chip Challenge๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ and its UK knock off. Both of which were more about the challenge than the taste. Whereas Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm gave me some stunning Xtreme Honey Roast Peanuts that packed both and a delicious Burmese Naga Pickle to match.

Speaking of which, I think it’s time for

The Snackables

In which I very much have to mention Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm’s Xtreme Honey Roast Peanuts again. Albeit, this time, with the caveat that there’s also a far milder and equally amazing version available, which I mentioned in a tweet at the time. I’d thoroughly recommend either. Perhaps even as some kind of oversized stocking stuffer.

And then, speaking of insanely good versions of classic snacks, I couldn’t possibly forget Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Chipotle & Orange Milk Chocolate, with its crazy delicious pairing of sweet and smoky. Or the rest of that same chilli chocolate range.

Plus, we all know cheese is a popular party food, so why not grab some of their cayenne-heavy ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธChilli Cheese๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ, for the year’s festivities, while you’re at it? Or the non-chilli sorts, for that matter, since they’re still just as good and the ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธWhiskey & Orange๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ, in particular, was a wonderful hunk of dessert dairy.

The Chilli Project‘s lightly citrussy ๐Ÿ’ฐHotshot Jalapeรฑo๐Ÿ’ฐ, sweet and savoury ๐Ÿ’ฐRed Rocket Relish๐Ÿ’ฐ or any of their ๐Ÿ’ฐpickle range๐Ÿ’ฐ then adding that extra oomph to round out your cheese board. Possibly substituting Haynes Gourmet’s Candied Jalapenos, if you prefer their fancier appearance, for gifting, or the fact that their available in red.

And, finally, Chilli Bob provided us with some unique and highly flavour-packed Pink Peppercorn & Chilli Pickled Onions, this year, for those who prefer their snacks on the sharp and vinegary side. Packaged in a most presentable jar.

The Sharp and Citrussy Sauces and Similar

clearly follow on from those, starting with some classic luisianna-styles.

McIlhenny Co.’s Tabasco Scorpion Sauce, Chilli Bob‘s Chimera Chilli Sauce and The Chilli Pepper Company‘s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธNaga Viper one๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ all kick things off with an extreme heat and red chilli flavour. Yet the first two also posses subtle fruity tones, beneath all of that, which Ignis’ HPPM and The Chilli Project‘s ๐Ÿ’ฐHammerhead๐Ÿ’ฐ both double down on, with fruit thrown in, while providing a more manageable, habanero or scotch bonnet heat.

Great all-rounders for people who enjoy those peppers.

Hop’t’s Tropical Habanero Lager fills a similar role, too. Only with a sharp, grapefruit-based acidity and a touch of creamy hop oils, in order to appeal more to fans of greasy food and craft beer. A real pub-lover’s product!

Then The Chilli Alchemist‘s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธFire๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ and Rad Dude Sauces’ Fermented Chilli Hot Sauce round out the red chilli range as two slightly milder, louisiana-style products. With Rad Dude’s edging it out slightly, for me, as the mildest and most complex of the lot.

After which we move on over to the citrus blends, beginning with The Somerset Chilli Co.’s Narco โ€“ A sauce with a hint of green chilli and a tonne of sharp lime, all wrapped up in a coconut base. Very much for fans of sour, with perhaps a little penchant towards thai cuisine.

Hop’t’s Mango Jalapeรฑo Citra-Nelson IPA follows the same general idea โ€“ Creamy, citrussy, slightly green and lightly fruity โ€“ yet it’s far less lip-puckeringly tart. Another one that craft beer fans are liable to enjoy, yet also one for scotch bonnet lovers and those who enjoy a warming citrus flavour, like yuzu.

Speaking of which, I really enjoyed Alkemio Kitchen‘s Pineapple, Shiso Leaf, Calamansi, Sugar, with its blend of lime-like rare citrus, tropical fruit, sweetness and herbs. And I’m sure that the more adventurous hot sauce fans and fruit salsa fiends out there will, too.

Though Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธTropical Sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ also really hit the spot, with heavy citrus notes on a pineapple base and a good hit of juniper, which convinced me to pass a bottle on to a gin lover for my secret santa, last year.

And, for those who like both the tang and that tropical flavour, Howl at the Moon’s Sound System Sauce packs a tonne of both.

Compared to those, Saucy B’s ๐Ÿ”ฅMellow Yellow๐Ÿ”ฅ could seem a tad mundane but its blend of yellow pepper sweet chilli and lightly bitter lemon peel still makes it perfect for any marmalade-lover who likes a jokey label or is prepared to put up with the swears.

Then we have the one outlier of this section, Brighton Hot Stuff‘s Extra Hot Sweet Chilli. A sauce that’s neither a luisiana-style red chilli sauce nor something fruit-forward and citrussy but rather a particularly sharp and rice vinegar-heavy version of a sweet chilli. With a chinese feel to it and huge focus on habanero flavour.

I’m not sure how broad its appeal will be but I’m sure that someone out there will really adore it and maybe you, dear reader, know just who.

For now, though, I’m going to kick off the next section with something that could easily have been in this one but is, realistically, more at home in

The Mustard and Caribbean-Style Products

Tropical Sun are a caribbean-style brand and their sixty percent Carolina Reaper sauce may not follow the mustard-heavy style that I’m used to but it’s still very much in the spirit of the region. Using lime and extremely hot, red peppers for a sharp and somewhat acidic kick. As well as a quite distinctive, chilli-forward flavour. Once again, though, this is not for the faint of heart. It’s world record level hot and, even among reaper sauces, I’ve had much milder.

Unfortunately, though, it’s the only example of that particular caribbean style that I’ve seen, this year. And I haven’t found any of those caribbean mustard sauces in twenty twenty-one, either.

This year’s only mustard sauce was Alkemio Kitchen‘s Jalapeno, Lime, Mustard, Turmeric. Which is far more american and packs a good hit of umami and green chilli, rather than the usual, fruity scotch bonnet. A great fit for hot dog lovers but not the same thing in the slightest.

Haskhell’s Pineapple Curry did have quite the spice and onion-forward, fruity yet savoury, caribbean curry flavour, though. And Alkemio Kitchen‘s Plum, Cola, Cinnamon, Rose, Scotch Bonnet, Daddy Cool‘s Jerk Rub and Hot Pods’ Jolt all brought their own take on the jerk style, in different heats, flavours and formats. Alkemio Kitchen‘s, in particular, having almost american barbecue elements to it, too.

The Smoke Sources

Are where the real barbecue items are at, though. From Chilli Bob‘s sweet and savoury, molasses-heavy ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธKorean Viper BBQ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ to The Chilli Alchemist‘s adobo-spiced chipotle ketchup, ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธSmoke๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ, and everything in between. That ketchup and Ginger Beard and The Moor Beer Company’s both vying for my love with very similar flavours at different levels of sweetness, making it hard for me to recommend either over the other.

Though I can tell you that The Chilli Project‘s ๐Ÿ’ฐCharlie’s Brown Chilli Sauce๐Ÿ’ฐ is a delightfully bold, brown sauce equivalent.

And, just as it’s hard to choose between those ketchups, so too is it difficult to pick between Chilli of the Valley‘s Dark Siren and Henry’s Hot Sauce’s Fue, Fume, Cerise, where the rich cherry undertones add a new level to the sweet sticky barbecue. But Henry’s brings forth more of that fruit and some satisfying ghost pepper heat, while lacking CotV’s chipotle smokiness. So, as much as there is no clear winner and both are fantastic twists on the classic barbecue style, it shouldn’t be too hard to work out which your recipient would prefer. Since it mostly comes down to whether they’d rather strong or smoky.

If they do prefer strong, though, maybe consider CotV’s Black Death, from earlier, as well. Its incredibly slow cooked, caramelised, black garlic gives it rich, somewhat balsamicky, almost molassesy tones that make it surprisingly fitting for the barbecue side of this section. Even if, like the Fue, Fume, Cerise, it lacks any actual smoke.

And Alkemio Kitchen‘s far milder Black Garlic, Chipotle, Tamarind, Chocolate boasts a similar body with a bit more savoury oomph and some actual chipotle, to replace all of that carolina reaper heat. But it’s not the only milder option for something dark and garlicky.

The Chilli Project‘s ๐Ÿ’ฐGrizzly Garlic๐Ÿ’ฐ sticks to the sweeter side of caramelised, not so black garlic and that, combined with its hints of red wine vinegar make for something remarkably indulgent which, while not quite a normal barbecue sauce, will definitely work in its place. Much like Ki’ Gourmet’s Cielo Rojo.

The Cielo Rojo may not quite meet my definition of barbecue, either, but it’s an amazing glaze and a highly unique flavour profile. Combining a serious hit of savoury, chipotle smoke and jam-like, sweetened blackberries into an entirely new, yet authentically mexican creation that works so remarkably well.

Haskhell’s Chipotle is smoky and fruity, too, but rather less sweet and much more winter spiced, with undertones of chocolate and orange. Not actually mexican but very fitting for mexican food and fans thereof. As well as for lovers of that chocolate orange flavour.

Whereas most chocolate lovers likely won’t be as into Hop’t’s Chipotle Chocolate Stout because of its dry, astringent herbs and hop oils. But stout drinkers and steak connoisseurs will get a hell of a lot out of it.

Plus, if herby’s what you’re looking for, The Bonnie Sauce Co.’s Smoky Chipotle is another excellent fit, with a rich, oily chipotle base and a tonne of coriander on top. And it looks so much better in person than in even my own pictures, let alone theirs. It should make an excellent gift for those who want less dry hops and more actual chipotle.

Saucy B’s ๐Ÿ”ฅSweet Heat๐Ÿ”ฅ, on the other hand, is supposed to be a scotch bonnet sauce. Yet the molasses in its brown sugar and the smoke of its paprika do, most definitely, provide barbecue-like elements to its otherwise roasted red pepper flavour. Definitely giftable but I’m less sure on its audience.

Unlike Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Chipotle & Orange Milk Chocolate, which is really just for anyone and everyone who loves both smoke and milk chocolate.

I freakin’ love it but I won’t go shouting about it again in

The Jams and Sweet Stuff

You’ve already heard enough from that particular product.

Yet, that said, I do have one more chocolate-based item for you, in this section, and that’s Hot Pods’ Hecates Cauldron. Another superb use of cherry but, this time, in an indulgent blend of smooth chocolate, cardamom and spice. Once again pandering to the chocoholics, yet also the dessert-lovers and fans of black forest gateaux.

Whereas their Silli Chilly plum jam is more for fans of fruity flavours and those who can’t handle their heat. Since it’s all of that delicious habanero taste, with absolutely zero burn. And it really is both delightful and mind blowing.

As was Alkemio Kitchen‘s Watermelon, Cucumber, Lemongrass, Sugar, when I first tried it, because I never knew that watermelon could cook down into something so powerfully berry-flavoured. Yet the cucumber still kept it light and refreshing. A most unusual and enjoyable take on a thai sweet chilli.

Their Pineapple, Shiso Leaf, Calamansi, Sugar was a little more predictable, at least as someone who already knew all of its ingredients, but its sweetness, warming rare citrus and herbs all came together beautifully, all the same. Creating a delightfully fresh-tasting pineapple sauce with a lot of tangy sweetness to it.

Whereas Saucy B’s ๐Ÿ”ฅMellow Yellow๐Ÿ”ฅ was unexpectedly light on the pineapple and rather heavier on the peel than the juice. Still rather sweet and citrus forward, yet more for marmalade fans.

And Ki’ Gourmet’s Cielo Rojo is practically jammy with blackberries, even if it does also pack a strong, savoury, chipotle smoke.

As for the actual jams, though, Haynes Gourmet make Strawberry Jam with their candied jalapeรฑos, for a nice balance of sweet, sticky fruit and savoury red chilli notes. Briscoe offer a Tempting Thai Jelly, with deep red chilli and thai spices, on a bed of sweet apple. And Single Variety Co. have two different limited edition Habanero Jams on sale, at the moment, for those who want to taste every aspect of the chilli. Including which colour.

But, for those who want something more fruit-centric, how about The Chilli Project‘s citrussy ๐Ÿ’ฐLemon Drop Jelly๐Ÿ’ฐ?

Then there’s the Reclus Red, from Prices Spices, which is supposed to be a jam but actually tastes more like chilli honey. Perfect as a glaze for meat or halloumi, for drizzling over pizza or simply for vegans, who can’t enjoy the real thing.

And, speaking of vegans, I think it’s time we ate

Our Greens

For this one, I want to start with Nerd Sauce Co.’s Senor Padron and work up in heat and complexity from there. Because it’s an extremely simple, extremely mild, green chilli sauce but my god does it get the flavour of its spanish pepper across! And that sciencey bottle isn’t bad, either.

I love it and I’m sure that many others will, too.

But Ignis’ JGA7 offers a lot of similar traits. Scientific-looking labelling and a very pure green chilli flavour. Just with a light, fruity, non-sweet apple undertone and a few thai-style spices. It has more heat and lacks that signature padron nuttiness but it’s highly enjoyable in its own right.

Whereas Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare is simply okay. Quite earthy, quite green and quite heavy on the vinegar, with packaging that’s sure to please fans of the musician but nothing else that really stands out. So that one’s more of a collector’s gift, if you ask me.

Unlike Seed Ranch Flavour Co.’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธHot Thai Green๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ, which was a thoroughly enjoyable thai green curry in a bottle. And, while it’s definitely the hottest of today’s greens, it was still a surprisingly sensible heat, despite green reaper.

The Chilli Project‘s ๐Ÿ’ฐBirdy Verde๐Ÿ’ฐ is just as complex, though, albeit far more mexican in flavour. Taking after the verde style with smooth tomatillos and providing undertones of pineapple and fennel to round out its otherwise extremely green chilli flavour.

Then Hop’t’s Mango Jalapeรฑo Citra-Nelson IPA was similarly smooth and creamy, yet only a little bit green and far more fruity. With warm citrus hints.

And The Bonnie Sauce Co. rounds off this section with both their creamy, citrussy Jalapeรฑo and Lime and their highly herby Smoky Chipotle. The second of which lacks any actual green chilli but may well appeal to many of the the same people.

Now, onto

The Fruity Fun

Alkemio Kitchen feature heavily in this section, given their use of fruit in most products. Their Pineapple, Shiso Leaf, Calamansi, Sugar will certainly wow tropical fruit fans, while their Watermelon, Cucumber, Lemongrass, Sugar is more of a sweet berry burst and their Plum, Cola, Cinnamon, Rose, Scotch Bonnet will satisfy both jerk and barbecue lovers, alike. Blueberry, Miso, Scotch Bonnet, Mint is the standout of the range, though, because of just how downright unexpectedly savoury it was. Making it perfect for meats.

A usage that Tom’s Sauces‘ more fruit-forward Blueberry still worked oh so well for.

And that’s it. No sweet blueberry to be shown off, this year, but Ki’ Gourmet’s did provide us with a stunning, sweet and savoury, blackberry blend, in the form of their Cielo Rojo.

Then there were the chilli condiments that highlighted their use of cherry โ€“ Henry’s Hot Sauce’s hot and smokeless, Fue, Fume, Cerise barbecue and Hot Pods’ rich, indulgent, chocolate-based Hecates Cauldron, for the dessert-lovers.

Plus, Brighton Hot Stuff‘s Buckfast also brought forward the rich berry elements of its wine and went amazingly with itialian cooking and herbs. But red berries still aren’t all that we have today and BHS, themselves, gave us another colour.

A yellow habanero Lychee sauce, for fans of chinese food, flavoured by the pepper but accented beautifully by the fruit. Much like Chilli Bob‘s Chinese Tiger BBQ, where the nectarine was far from the star of the show but definitely made the sauce, all the same.

His other ones, however โ€“ His Burmese Mango Sauce and Spiced Sticky Apple โ€“ were decidedly more fruit focussed. With the first being deliciously mango-forward, yet supported by delicate, spiced apple, and the second being more of a full on chutney/brown sauce combo.

Similar, in a sense, to Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s chutney-inspired ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธFruity Sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ and ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธMango Sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ. While their ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธTropical Sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ was a less sweet, pineapple and citrus flavour with gin-like juniper notes.

Haskhell, Howl at the Moon and The Somerset Chilli Co. all also gave us tropical fruit sauces but every single one was quite different, with HatM’s Sound System Sauce being the more traditional, apart from its serious tang, while Somerset Chilli Co.’s La Playa decided to include kiwi and Haskhell’s Pineapple Curry was a lot less sweet and much more like a caribbean curry. Whereas The Chilli Project‘s ๐Ÿ’ฐBongo Chilli Sauce๐Ÿ’ฐ was almost exclusively sweet pineapple and yellow peppers.

And, ironically, Hop’t’s Tropical Habanero Lager wasn’t a traditional tropical fruit sauce, at all. Since, despite the name, it focussed on red chilli and grapefruit, with hints of hops. Amazing for cutting through fatty or greasy foods and slathering over wings but very different to most other fruit products. As well as also being very different to their Mango Jalapeรฑo Citra-Nelson IPA.

That sauce was warm and citrussy, with undertones of mango but, once again, put the focus on its hops and its peppers. An interesting blend of green jalapeรฑo and red scotch bonnet.

Haskhell’s then provide the last actual sauce for this category, this year. Their chocolate orange Chipotle, which could use a more descriptive name but is a real winner of a flavour combination, all the same.

But we can’t forget Briscoe’s chilli-forward, yet highly appley Tempting Thai Jelly or Hot Pods’ habanero and plum flavoured, super mild Silli Chilly jam, before we move on to

The Pure Products

Where we see The Chilli Pepper Company‘s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธNaga Viper sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ again, as a pure expression of a former world record, but also Nerd Sauce Co.’s Senor Padron and Haskhell’s Piquante, which do a similar job for two very mild chillies.

And Ignis’ jalapeรฑo JGA7 does a remarkably good job of highlighting a pure, green chilli, as well, but then that does seem to be what the company do. Their red habanero HPPM and chocolate naga CNC9 also offer up a very pepper-forward flavour, with only a few small hints of other things, to round those chillies out.

Which is almost how Brighton Hot Stuff‘s Lychee comes across, with how the fruit adds delicious top notes to an otherwise entirely yellow hab sauce. And the same could very much be said for The Chilli Project‘s ๐Ÿ’ฐHedgehog Habanero๐Ÿ’ฐ, ๐Ÿ’ฐHammerhead Scotch Bonnet๐Ÿ’ฐ, ๐Ÿ’ฐGhost Pepper๐Ÿ’ฐ and ๐Ÿ’ฐBlood Eagle๐Ÿ’ฐ sauces. Each providing a touch of carrot, pineapple, pumpkin or worcestershire sauce, for variety, while putting the chilli, itself, first.

Then The Chilli Alchemist‘s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธFire๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ, Alice Cooper’s No More Mr. Nice Guy and East Coast Chilli Co.‘s Reason all offer up different blends but very much focus on providing a traditional, red chilli flavour with few frills.

While Wiltshire Chilli Farm do go a bit further afield with their ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธWinter Chilli Sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ but essentially just make a spiced version of the same thing. Far less sweet than I was expecting.

The next purest, though, is far more garlic forward, placing it squarely in

The Rooty Ones

and it is Gringo Bandito’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธSpicy Yellow๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ. Heavy on the yellow bonnets and habs but also extremely garlick-centric and just all round bold flavoured. Perfect for garlic-lovers and fans of The Offspring alike, since it’s made by their lead singer.

Then we have Hot Pod’s Swarm, which is more bell pepper-based but still oh so yellow and oh so garlicky, with a twist of fermented honey, and East Coast Chilli Co.‘s Chance, where the garlic’s deliciously roasted and the base is creamy tomato but the intensity is still every bit the same.

If you’d rather that honey’s sweetness remain in tact, however, there’s always Torchbearer’s Honey Garlic Sauce. Which is more of a dressing but still as honey and garlic heavy as its name implies.

Interestingly, though, twenty twenty-one seems to have been the year of black garlic, because Chilli of the Valley, Daddy Cool, Alkemio Kitchen and Opal Sunshine all tried their hands at that aged allium. Each with slightly different results.

CotV’s Black Death was an insanely hot, sticky, carolina reaper blend, with hints of sweet and fruity tones, while Alkemio Kitchen‘s Black Garlic, Chipotle, Tamarind, Chocolate was rather more savoury and smoky, at a far milder heat. Blackman Eddy’s, from Opal, stood out as almost indian, with its greater tamarind focus and tang, but it was ultimately Daddy Cool‘s use of the root to add depth to a Black Garlic Sriracha which was the most unique.

Yet, if indian garlic is what you’re after, consider The Chilli Project‘s astounding ๐Ÿ’ฐGarlic Naga Pickle๐Ÿ’ฐ, made in that very style. Or try their ๐Ÿ’ฐGrizzly Garlic๐Ÿ’ฐ sauce for something sweet, sticky, rich and caramelised, yet not quite as full on black as the above.

Then we start to hit the other roots with The Chilli Alchemist‘s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธPure๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ and Haskhell’s Pineapple Curry โ€“ both ginger-forward and fruity, yet the first made with little but fresh habaneros, while the second uses actual tropical fruit and takes on a caribbean quality, through its spices.

Along with Haskhell’s Horseradish, which somehow slows the distinctive burn of its namesake root to match the slow build of its bhut jolokia. All while being delightfully creamy.

And finally, The Bonnie Sauce Co.’s Jalapeรฑo and Lime has no root to it, at all, yet somehow brings an almost wasabi-like element to the table. Which, along with its creamy green chilli base and heavy hit of lime, makes it an ideal gift for sushi-lovers.


The Indian Items

We see The Chilli Project‘s bold ๐Ÿ’ฐGarlic Naga Pickle๐Ÿ’ฐ once again but it’s also worth mentioning their classic ๐Ÿ’ฐBrinjal๐Ÿ’ฐ and ๐Ÿ’ฐScotch Bonnet๐Ÿ’ฐ ones, too. All three of which seem to be among the company’s most highly regarded products and will be loved by any indian food fan.

Or, if pickles won’t do, what about chutney? Or rather, the chutney-inspired sauces that we saw in the fruit section. Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธFruity Sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ and ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธMango Sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ are both very much based on british bangladeshi cuisine, with Opal Sunshine‘s tamarindy Blackman Eddy’s also having a strong resemblence to chutney and Chilli Bob‘s Spiced Sticky Apple not being too far off, either.

And, while their Burmese Mango Sauce isn’t strictly indian, it’s still a delightfully spiced, sweet mango blend, based on the cuisine of a neighbouring country.

Plus, there’s always Mr Vikki’s Keswick Market Curry Sauce for the home cooks. A delicious premade curry in a jar, just add water and meat or veg, as you see fit.

Though for

The Adventurous Ones

There are also The Spice Sultan‘s Curry Kits, for a wider range of regional cuisines to explore.

Getting more specific, though, Tubby Tom’s Dragon Salt is a great way to make anything taste like chinese takeaway and Brighton Hot Stuff‘s Lychee offers a bizarre, yet highly enjoyable, taste of chinese fruit.

Nerd Sauce Co.’s Senor Padron and Haskhell’s Piquante represent the regional peppers and spices of spain, this year, while Haskhell’s other item, their Horseradish, is a really out there sauce for anyone after a unique heat.

The Somerset Chilli Co.’s Narco, Briscoe’s Tempting Thai Jelly, Daddy Cool‘s Black Garlic Sriracha and Seed Ranch Flavour Co.’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธHot Thai Green๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ all represent different elements of thai cuisine.

And Gods of Sauces’ offer us a distinctively rich and sesame-based, red chilli Korean Hot Sauce, to go with Chilli Bob‘s sweet and savoury ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธKorean Viper BBQ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ, to round out our fourth and final region.

Then we move on to the mind blowing experiences that don’t really belong to any one culture, such as Hot Pods’ fruity and heatless, yet still hot chilli flavoured Silli Chilly. Or Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s insanely smoky, Chipotle & Orange Milk Chocolate.

Many of Alkemio Kitchen‘s creations could be said to have the same effect but, in particular, I’d like to highlight their Watermelon, Cucumber, Lemongrass, Sugar, for this section, because it’s such an out there choice of fruit which comes across so differently from how you’d expect. With a light and refreshing, yet full on fruitiness, reminiscent of garden cocktails.

And, still on that fruity side, The Somerset Chilli Co.’s La Playa is a crazy blend of tropical fruit with kiwi in it. Not really as spanish as its name but definitely wild and tasty.

Then Ignis’ CNC9 is going to be of interest to any more adventurous superhot chilli-lovers that you may know because of how it pairs ghost pepper heat with a unique, earthy and almost olivey, brown naga.

But perhaps the most shocking sauce of them all is Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Firemite. A product which does exactly what it says on the label, providing both a decent heat and that intensely umami, yeast extract flavour of Marmite.

Which brings me to the end of what I’d recommend as gifts. Now it’s time for what I wouldn’t, before I recount my top picks.

The Products Which I Wouldn’t Give as Christmas Gifts:

The easiest ones, for this category, yet also the saddest, are the products that no longer exist. Such as Shart Chilli Sauce’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ๐Ÿ’€Naga Viper sauce๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ, Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ๐Ÿ’€Chipotle & Garlic Cheese๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ and literally everything that I’ve had from Foraged Fire this year. Since Tim tends to base his entire range around the wild and seasonal ingredients available at the time.

Then there are items like FYM’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธSoy Lente Green๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ, Dingo Sauce Co.’s ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บSmoked Sriracha๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ and ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บWidow Maker๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ and Gods of Sauces’ ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บPassion Fruit Korean Hot Sauce๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ which do still exist but are made elsewhere in the world and no longer readily imported.

Or limited editions which either aren’t available right now, like Daddy Cool‘s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธValentine’s Chocolates๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ and Somerset Chilli Garden’s Chilli Chocolate Truffles and Wild Fire, or are made for a specific group, like Hod Pods’ ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธMerry NEUKmas๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ.

There are, however, a select few that I didn’t think met the bill, this year, as well.

Nerd Sauce Co.’s Kashmiri, for starters, failed to match the freshness and quality of their padron sauce, using dried chillies and tasting almost chemical. While Badger’s Chilli Kitchen’s Badger X actually was chemical and far more noticeably so than its hotter version. Both were awful.

As was the split texture of Prices Spices’ El Salivate Adore, which is a shame because it was actually quite tasty. So, while I can’t recommend it as a gift, it’s still worth trying if you know what you’re getting into.

Much like how Henry’s Hot Sauce’s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธVenom๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ was deliciously fruity but wildly different to what it was marketed as, with no obvious viper or green chilli, so is liable to be a disappointment to anyone who reads the bottle and thinks that they have a different sauce.

Then Haskhell’s Blueberry was actually rather nice but did the same thing as several other blueberry sauces and not quite as well. So I can’t rightly recommend it above Tom’s SaucesBlueberry.

And I struggle to recommend Saucey Lady‘s Moonlight Serenade and Alkemio Kitchen‘s Mango, Turmeric, Cumin, Nigella, too, when neither are the company’s best work nor easy to find uses for.

And I’ve also struggled to find much that could reasonably fill the next role, this year, but there are a few

Stocking fillers:

The Chilli Pepper Company‘s ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธNaga Viper sauce๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ is a great, Tabasco-sized, extreme sauce for taking on the go but I have to advise against this year’s Tabasco. Since, while its scorpion heat and flavour are there, its thickness is too much for the typical Tabasco nib. It needs their larger bottle.

But Tubby Tom’s smaller tub of Dragon Salt dispenses his chinese salt and pepper seasoning just fine, while still being a nice, compact size.

Then I did also mention waaaaaaaaaay up above that you could potentially squish Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm’s large bags of Honey Roast Peanuts in there, if you really tried. Though I’d say that that one’s a stretch.

And that’s the lot, I’m afraid. So, without further ado, here are what I believe to be

The Top Five Giftable Items of 2021:

The Chilli Project‘s ๐Ÿ’ฐBirdy Verde๐Ÿ’ฐ for fans of green chilli and/or mexican food. Since it’s an excellent twist on a salsa verde.

Chilli of the Valley‘s Black Death to give the extreme heat seakers something a little different and special, that still somehow manages to cram in a tonne of reaper firepower.

Chilli Bob‘s Burmese Mango Sauce for the tropical fruit-lovers. Sweet but gentle, with undertones of spiced apple.

-Rad Dude Sauces’ Fermented Chilli Hot Sauce because its classic style and complex, fresh flavour make it a great all rounder for any hot sauce fan who you don’t know especially well.

-Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s Chocolates, to please the chocoholics in your life, but especially the Chipotle & Orange Milk variety, with its mix of sweet, cocoa-y and smoky.


My Personal Favourites this Year:

The Chilli Project‘s ๐Ÿ’ฐBirdy Verde๐Ÿ’ฐ for packing a serious green chilli flavour and tomatillo smoothness, yet brightening itself up with a touch of pineapple and including just enough fennel and cumin to really bring out the best in my smoked cheese nachos.

Alkemio Kitchen‘s Watermelon, Cucumber, Lemongrass, Sugar because it taught me what watermelon was truly capable of in a delicious, sweet chilli setting.

-Wilshire Chilli Farm’s Chipotle & Orange Milk Chocolate for its astounding blend of sweet, creamy, melt in the mouth chocolate and intense, savoury, chipotle smoke, perfectly balanced for a delicious flavour contrast.

-Hot Pods’ Silli Chilly, since it manages to pack so much habanero flavour into a heatless sauce that it genuinely blows my mind.

-Gods of Sauces’ Korean Hot Sauce, Imported by Aussie Hot Sauces, for pairing bold and savoury sesame oil with a satifying chilli heat and flavour, like nothing that I’ve had before.

And that’s all for my twenty twenty-one recap, everyone, but I’ll catch you on tuesday for my next review.

Hope it’s helped!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s