Encona Don’t Fear the Reaper

Happy tuesday again heat eaters, it’s finally summer. And, bringing the heat this week, we have a complete left fielder in the form of Encona’s new limited edition carolina reaper sauce.

2017-05-31 11.49.02

A surprising combination of mainstream sauce company and world’s hottest chilli, made clear by the contrast between their white logo and the dark, silver on black, fenced off design of the rest of the bottle. The fencing giving way to the words “our hottest chilli sauce” in hazard yellow as they melt through its interlocking wires.

It is also adorned with an eye catching metallic “limited edition” plaque and a yellow and black hazard sign where the listed cause of potential death is simply “carolina reaper chilli”.

They even keep this exciting, high intensity look for the ingredients list, where a small blurb tells those who don’t know that the chilli it uses is indeed the record holder.

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And they wrap the lid in red and white striped limited edition shrink wrap, which I unfortunately can’t show you because the guys who gave me this wanted to see it tried on the spot and I’m not one to disappoint. Especially when I get a sweet talking point like this out of the deal.

But that’s enough about the look of this sauce and enough about how it came into my possession. It’s time to give it a taste.

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It’s only five percent reaper mash, making it a mere 4.4% reaper chilli, so this sauce is mild for its pepper. Milder, even, than some of the ghost sauces I’ve tried. But still not mild.

No, it’s a strong and fierce burn that, despite the product’s low chilli content, comes in very fast and builds to the upper limit of my

4.5/10

Heat

It may not quite be up there with a first ingredient ghost pepper sauce but it’s really very close. Not made for the average shopper but for a super hot chilli lover.

But, even with its mere 4.4%, the delicious, soft, peppery, almost spiced taste of the reaper is clearly present between the sweet, ketchupy, tomato and spirit vinegar start of this sauce and the heavy cumin hit that it goes out on.

And that warmth just lingers for ages.

This is, of course, partially due to how Encona treat their chillies, ageing them as a mash to really bring out their flavour.

It’s a sauce without subtlety but it’s not poorly made and I actually find its upfront nature to be quite refreshing after all the lovely but exceedingly nuanced sauces like the Screaming Chimp and Fatalii Attraction that I’ve been looking at lately.

Sometimes you want well-balanced complexity and sometimes you just long for something simple, you know? To quote the silly tag line I recently added to this site, variety is the life of spice.

It’s not something I’ll use all the time but it’s something I definitely enjoy and will be using at least semi-regularly. The makers suggest stirring it into soups and hot pots but that’s as much to keep the fire in check as it is to work with the flavour.

To someone like me, however, for whom this is a comfortable heat, there are a world more possibilities.

For a start, its spices have a rather north african vibe, lending this sauce to use in moroccan and tunisian cuisine, especially their curries and chickpea dishes. Yet I feel as though it won’t be out of place in the caribbean cookery that Encona has always been meant for.

And, should you want to be a little more daring, try using it like a barbecue sauce on tandoori spiced chicken. Its flavour and thickish texture should be a perfect fit.

Of all the extra hot supermarket sauces I’ve seen, though there haven’t been many, this has been my favourite.

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