Hey folks, welcome back to another of my rare thursday reviews. Reviews that I do specifically when I have an exciting item not sold in the UK, something which is claimed to be inedible or something that has undergone a major recipe change.
Today, I believe that what I have for you falls into the third category. Though the situation is a little weird, this time, because our new, fruit-based “Punch” doesn’t quite share its name with Dorset Chilli Shop’s old one. And the ingredients and design are so vastly different from that 💀“Dorset Punch”💀 that it could easily be considered a whole new product. Even if it doesn’t seem like its makers actually see it that way.
To show you what I mean, here’s a brief look at the bottle before I get into what’s changed:
So, aside from the loss of “Dorset” from the name, I’m sure that you can all see the difference in label design. The missing fake parchment background, the new picture frame around the name and company logo and the fact that those two have swapped places. But what you might not notice is the foiling.
As a long time lover of trading card games, I’ve seen many different foiling techniques and the one which Dorset Chilli Shop used was unique, among hot sauce, for being a smooth, unblemished, silver layer onto which a thin coating was placed to provide colour. A technique which was far more common in games like Magic: the Gathering, albeit with a somewhat more iridescent reflective layer.
Whereas their new label, on the other hand, is golden in colour and appears to have an uneven surface. Resembling both M:tG’s newer “etched” foils and the beaten foil which I believe Grim Reaper Foods use. With every other colour being printed opaquely over the top, so that nothing shines through.
It still looks good, as gold often tends to, but its limitations are obvious. With the lack of shine on the company logo and on the description of its ingredients keeping both from standing out like they used to. Which almost makes it look like they’re trying to hide the flavour change behind small and unbolded, grey text.
I have my doubts there, though, since, from what they’ve said to me, the new Punch was a direct response to customer feedback. To give people the milder fruit sauce that they’d asked for.
Well, I wasn’t one of those people. I enjoyed the dorset naga fire of 💀the original💀. But I also enjoyed its fruity flavour and, I’ll be honest with you, that flavour was a little mild for something in the super hot bracket. So perhaps, with the downgrade to scotch bonnet, I’ll get to enjoy that fruit a little more here.
Or maybe Dorset Chilli Shop’s newer pepper will bring its own special fruitiness to the table. Let’s see, shall we?
I pour it onto my spoon and I can instantly tell that this sauce is going to be extremely different.
Instead of dark rum, the first thing to hit my nostrils is a heavy kick of garlic, fading smoothly into the aged barley of its craft beer. And then, to my surprise, even the pineapple base is less delicate than before.
This is one strong smelling sauce and it has the taste to match, with a serious hit of savoury, toasted garlic, malty, barley-forward beer and seemingly roasted peppers taking the fore. Yet give it a moment and it becomes apparent that they’ve chosen yellow peppers with a slight tropical tinge, this time around, to lead into the sauce’s sweet fruit.
The yellow scotch bonnet blends the two sides of this product perfectly, with its own savoury fruit flavour, and smooths over the transition from beery-heavy sriracha to sticky, sweet, acidic and surprisingly hoppy pineapple. That IPA citra variety fitting in just as seamlessly with those tropical tastes.
In the end, it packs only a low
heat, prickling across my tongue. A whole digit below the original. And yet I still think it packs more of an overall punch than ever before, with just how intense its flavour’s become.
Dorset Chilli Shop’s intention may just have been to make it into something milder and more manageable but they’ve definitely fixed my one grievance with the punch in the process, too. It’s far from the sauce that I knew but it’s thoroughly enjoyable and far more thoroughly flavourful than it used to be. Meaning that, while it may not being the same sauce, it’s definitely a better one.
It now contains:
yellow pepper, sugar, pineapple,malt vinegar (malt vinegar, roast barley malt extract), craft beer (water,malted barley, wheat, hops) (7.34%), garlic, scotch bonnet chilli (6%), garlic powder, vitamin c, citra hop pellets (<1%).
And I can see it working ever so well in a nice dansak or as a marinade to pork or strong fish. But, despite being less traditionally caribbean than the old version, I can just as easily see it working its way into their curries, pineapple chicken or meat patties. Which is still simply the tip of the usage iceberg, as far as I’m concerned.
I’m going to have a tonne of fun with the rest of my bottle and I’m sure that you’ll all enjoy Dorset Chilli Shop’s new Punch, as well.
Thanks for reading.