By Vivienne Pearson
Have you heard of the Carolina Reaper? It is not related to the Grim Reaper, though if you don’t have much tolerance for chilli, you might disagree.
The Carolina Reaper is currently the world’s hottest chili – it has an impressive rating of 2.2 million on the Scoville Scale (a measure of heat; for comparison, a Tabasco sauce or Cayenne pepper gets a rating of around 30,000). I say currently, as this is a title that is subject to change, thanks to plant breeders who are keen to up the temperature even further.
Lennox Head Hot Sauce offers Carolina Reaper as the hottest sauce in their range. Rated on the bottle as ‘Insanely Hot’, it is not for the faint hearted. ‘You only need a drop or two,’ says Tristan Smillie, hot-sauce aficionado and co-owner of Lennox Head Hot Sauce.
Tristan maintains that his Carolina Reaper sauce tastes great: ‘It’s an earthy flavour, with a chocolate overtone,’ he says before explaining that this is not a sauce for everyone. ‘If you’re not used to chili, you only get the heat, not the flavour,’ he explains.
For the less chili-hardened, other sauces include a ‘mild’ Jalapeño and Spanish Onion, an Habanero (a chili that has previously held the world’s hottest chili title), a ‘hot’ Chipotle (smoked Jalapeño) and an ‘extra hot’ Mango.
‘You’d think that the mango would calm it down, but it doesn’t!’ laughs Danielle Luck, Tristan’s life and business partner, who confesses to be a newcomer to liking hot sauce.
Taste-testing is a fun part of Tristan and Danielle’s market stall. ‘Guys come up and say: “What’s your hottest?” says Tristan, who adds that, after trying the hottest, they not infrequently go pale. Some cry. ‘They’ll just stop talking – all their energy has gone into dealing with the heat,’ says Danielle.
Danielle adds that people’s capacity for chili heat is hugely variable and knows that her own tolerance has grown over the past few years. They’ve even had one teenager who was clearly missing some taste receptors, as he could eat the Carolina Reaper sauce without any effect.
For a while, the pair made people sign a disclaimer of responsibility before tasting. It wasn’t serious, but did make people stop and think.
Lennox Head Hot Sauce, available at Byron, Bangalow and The Channon markets as well as a growing number of local retailers.