Perhaps because it’s so cold, Scotland has seen an eruption of small and independent producers creating this condiment in recent years.
We suggest that you buy your beloved a bottle of the hot stuff for Valentine’s Day, especially if they’re not much of a chocolate or flowers fan. Or, you could cook them dinner, then surprise them with a lively dose of Dead Hot Sauce or Burke and Habanero. After all, the way to anyone’s heart is through their (burning) stomach. Here are seven of our favourites, all of which are available to buy through their web shops or at various in-person stockists.
Dead Hot Sauce £5 Trodden Black, www.troddenblack.co.uk
Shop online, or track down this Dollar-based business at various markets and shops including The Bear’s Larder in Edinburgh. Their Dead Hot Sauce, which has two Great Taste Award stars, treads the very moreish line between fruity, tangy and hot, with ingredients including beetroot, bird’s eye chillies, cayenne and garlic. They say it works especially well with cheese on toast and pesto pasta.
Others to try: They also do a Pineapple Armageddon Dead Hot Sauce; Bramble Naga Death Hot Sauce or Melon Jalapeno Dead Hot Sauce, all £7 each, with £1.50 from each of these three bottles currently going to charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).
Het Sass £5 Singularity Sauce, www.singularitysauce.co
This business, based in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, started out as a hobby for owner Mark McAulay, but now he’s selling out of his mouth-singeing lip-tingling creations. The Het Sass is one of their milder condiments, and it’s made from a RedMash that contains fermented Carolina Reapers chillies, as oppose to the grim ones, among other spicy ingredients. They give it a spice rating of 2.5, so it suits wusses.
Others to try: Their Reapers and Blackberries Sauce, £7, has a two star Great Taste Award and a heat rating of ⅘, so brace yourself. We’re also keen to try the deceptively benign-looking pastel green Jalapenos and Apples, £7, which features dried Trinidad Scorpion chillies. Expect a sting in the tail.
Naga Chilli Ketchup £4.50, Succulento, www.succulento.co.uk
If you like a bit of sweetness with your kick in the pants, try this bright yellow sauce from an Aberdeen-based family company (couple Dami and Ify, originally from Nigeria). It’s another Great Taste Award winner, with one star, and it contains yellow bell peppers, mangoes, turnip and White Naga chillies. They recommend it as a dip, cooking sauce or marinade.
Others to try: For hot sauce lovers, they also offer a Hot Pili Pili sauce, Spiced BBQ Sauce, or Green Jalapeno Sauce, all £4.50 each, though they also do a range of spices and dry rubs for grill fans.
Burke and Habanero, £5, Leithal Hot Sauce, www.leithalhotsauces.co.uk
Guess where these are made? Yes, the clue is in the brand name, and this punning sauce also pays tribute to Edinburgh’s most dastardly grave robbers. It features the billed ingredient, which is softened by beetroot, apple, and other additions.
Others to try: They say that the appropriately named Game Over, £6, is their “most challenging sauce yet”. If you’re feeling brave, this nuclear strength mixture contains Carolina Reaper, Trinidad Scorpion, Ghost Chilli Peppers and pure capsicum extract. It’s time to burn. For lovers of fruity hits, there’s also the slightly gentler Ocean Terminator, £5, with pineapple, mango, passionfruit, Scotch bonnet and other ingredients.
Hot Mess Chilli Jam £4.95 The Glasgow Pickle Co, www.glasgowpickle.co
Made by Laura Sutherland in Glasgow, this blend of peppers, chillies, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, is a jam rather than a runny sauce, but it’ll still blow your pop socks off. She recommends it with cheese and crackers, or doused on a devilled take on scrambled eggs. We’re not sure what your other half will say if you buy them something called hot mess though. Blame us for your divorce proceedings.
Others to try: There’s also Sliced Dill Pickles, £5, or Tangy Tom Relish, £5, but if you want heat, they also do a Fiery Mustard with whisky and honey, £4.50.
Jalapeno and Lime £4.95 The Bonnie Sauce Co, www.bonniesauceco.com
This company was set up by the people behind Edinburgh’s Bonnie Burrito restaurants on Clerk Street and Lauriston Place, and this lively sauce works perfectly with Mexican food. They also say it’s the ideal partner for chicken wings, in a salad dressing and mixed with mayonnaise.
Others to try: Their Fiery Scotch Bonnet is probably the most challenging sauce, which deserves their Dia de los Muertos skull logo, but there’s also Mango and Habanero, as well as Smokey Chipotle, all for £4.95 each.
Whisky with Lemon and Chilli £6.95 Slainte Sauces, www.oystercroft.co
These sauces are made on an oyster farm on the Isle of Lismore, Loch Linnhe. It’s a family business, and they’ve diversified into Oystercroft products, with Slainte Sauces as the first line. Although this sauce works perfectly with oysters, like the rest of the cocktail-inspired range, it can also be used with other meats, on salad, or as a marinade.
Others to try: Sadly, they’re currently sold out of their other hottie - the Spicy Tequila Sauce. However, you can still shop online for the non-burny Port, Cherry & Black Pepper Sauce, or Rum and Salted Caramel Sauce for ice-cream, each of which are £6.95.
Chipotle Hot Sauce, £5 Ooft, www.ooftsauce.com
They only make two hot sauces at this company, situated in the Scottish Borders. There’s this smokey number, with a Mexican flavour, or the Caribbean style Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce, also £5, to put hairs on your chest. Their secret ingredient is fermented daikon, to add a certain umami je ne sais quoi. Both of their sauces have a Great Taste Award star. Ooft, indeed.