Naturally, there were to be no repeats of sauces from the last tasting, three years ago. Even though there were clear favourites in the previous line up, there are so many amazing and different sauces produced in far-flung corners of the world, we went with an entirely new roster. To be fair, we had tried some of the sauces ourselves, previous to the tasting, but some of them were purchased specifically with an eye to origin, pepper type, style, and heat.
The subjects were arranged in (arguably) order of mildest to hottest:
- Tequila Sunrise Cayenne Hot Sauce (Costa Rica)
- Bufalo Jalapeno Mexican Hot Sauce (Mexico)
- Cholula Hot Sauce (Mexico)
- Waha Wera Kiwifruit & Habanero Sauce (New Zealand)
- Amazon Hot Green Sauce (Columbia)
- Cooksville Black Heat (Canada)
- Marie Sharp's Habanero Pepper Sauce (Belize)
- Harissa du Cap Bon (Tunisia)
- El Yucateco Salsa Kutbil-ik de Chile Habanero XXXtra Kot Sauce (Mexico)
- Ebesse Zozo Hot Sauce (Canada, modelled on Togolese traditional style).
The most contentious hot sauce was #9. I'm very fond of it, in small doses, on an omelette or frittata at breakfast. It is fierce as anything, but for the first time I heard people describing it as flavourless and harsh. Not everyone was disparaging of it, though. Generally speaking, the tasters who were most accustomed to very hot food were able to look past the fiery habanero heat and groove on the fiery habanero flavour.
The most popular sauce, I think - I cannot remember if we did a poll - was #7. Hot, clean, and powerful, full of flavour, and with enough sweetness to cut the fire so that everyone could enjoy it. #5 did very well, also, being made from a little-known pepper (the Green Amazon pepper), and having a very pleasant blend of heat and flavour. It is the one we have used most since the tasting, since it boasts a broad application spectrum.
We finished the tasting with a little jerk chicken and a vegetarian 4-bean chili, and a fair bit of beer.
Next time around we'll have to pick our date a little better so that more people who wanted to attend will be able to make it.