I get many emails from people the world over asking the same type of question, “what is the hottest chilli in the world?” or “what are the top 10 hottest chillies?” This is not a straight forward question to answer, with new varieties, strains or mutations appearing all the time, and factor in a lot of varieties are far from stable and can produce pods with vastly differing heats, it is complicated.
For a chilli to be called the worlds hottest, it has to be verified and recognised by Guinness World Records. Many newer varieties have tested higher, but until they have been officially recorded by Guinness they are just a set of numbers.
The following 5 varieties have been officially authenticated and have held the world record how ever briefly:
1) The worlds hottest chilli is still the Trinidad Scorpion ‘Butch T‘. This chilli was grown by The Chilli Factory (Australia) and rated at 1,463,700 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) according to tests conducted by EML Consulting Services in Morisset, New South Wales, Australia, on 1 March 2011. For our original report on the Butch T Follow this link
2) The Naga Viper had a rating of 1,382,118 SHU. It is a three-way hybrid produced from the Naga Morich, the Bhut Jolokia and the Trinidad Scorpion. Gerald Fowler from the Chilli Pepper Company bred this variety and on 25 February 2011 it was recognised by Guinness. To read our original report follow this link
3) The Infinity Chilli or Infinity 7 Pot created in England by Nick Woods of Fire Foods, Grantham, Lincolnshire. For two weeks in February 2011, the Infinity Chilli held the Guinness World Record title for the world’s hottest chilli with a rating of 1,067,286 SHU mentioned here
4) The Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Chilli In 2005, at New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute, Professor Paul Bosland found the Bhut Jolokia grown from seed in Southern New Mexico to have a rating of 1,001,304 SHU. Bhut or Bhoot translates to “Ghost” and Jolokia translates to “Pepper”
5) The Red Savina was the record holder for a number of years until the Bhut Jolokia. It is a cultivar of the Habanero Chilli (Capsicum chinense Jacquin), which has been selectively bred to produce hotter, heavier, and larger Chillies. They have been measured to reach as high as nearly 580,000 SHU.
There are lots of others which have been tested and do fit in between these five, like various Nagas and 7 Pots, and most recently the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. This Chilli has been tested at the New Mexico State University’s Chili Pepper Institute and in February 2012 it reported a rating of 2,009,231 SHU. This rating is as yet still to be officially recognised by Guinness.
What is important to point out is that the 2 million rating of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was the highest score out of a number of tests. In fact the mean (or average) rating came in at 1,200,000 and the lowest rating was well below 1,000,000. This is the same for every chilli tested, the highest rating is always quoted, but Guinness as far as I’m aware will go with the average heat in samples submitted.
Even with these highest SHU, the top rating is only a potential highest, there are so many factors involved which will affect the chillies potential heat, like seed quality, compost and feed used, growing temperatures, humidity, availability of water to the plant. These and many more will more than likely stop you achieving the same SHU as it says on the seed packet.
2012 saw a number of new varieties announced, these included the ‘HP22B’ which became the Carolina Reaper (pictured above)from Ed Currie at Puckerbutt . This chilli is very close to having its SHU announced, and also the Jay’s Peach & Red Ghost Scorpion’s (pictured below) from Jim Duffy at Refining Fire Chiles.
Guinness do not just require a recognised SHU test result but evidence of the DNA of the plant/pods to prove that the chilli is new and not an existing variety.
In the UK anyone can get HPLC Testing done via Warwick University. You need to supply a minimum 25g of whole dried pods. It currently costs just under £30 per variety per test.
So there you have it, defining the hottest chillies on the planet is a bit of a minefield, hopefully this has helped clear things up, but tomorrow everything could change again!
Incidentally there is also a recognised Guinness world record for the heaviest chilli which is currently held by Ed Currie for a chilli which weighed 290g