From his secret dungeon in the village of Kilcoole on the East Coast of the Republic of Ireland (about 15 miles south of Dublin), Mic has developed a range of chilli sauces that have recently been arriving on mainland Great Britain. Mic got bitten by the chilli bug back in 1994 during a trip to Belize in Central America and upon returning home to Ireland he decided develop his own hot sauces for the masses and launch Mic’s Chilli

The first thing to notice about Mic’s products is the fantastic design of the labeling. These have been developed by the artistic mind of award winning designer Steve Simpson, who has previously worked on the Beano comic and Danger Mouse cartoon series. The skeletal figures featured on the range of Mic’s sauce have clearly drew inspiration from the skeletal ‘Catrina’ figures seen in the ‘Día de los Muertos’ (Day of the Dead) festivals in Mexico.

On the bottle for the Extreme Inferno sauce the skeletal figure is fitted out as a Grim Reaper figure (scythe included) amongst burning flames with the hood. Steve has clearly had a lot fun designing these labels and the attention to detail is second to none such that even the barcodes have been illustrated too.

Currently Mic has a range of four ‘Inferno’ sauces with the Inferno Extreme being the hottest and the winner of a ‘Gold Taste Award’ in 2011. As a chilli product reviewer, when I see words like ‘Extreme’ used on labeling I can’t help but think that chilli extract has been used therein, but looking at the ingredients list I’m very happy to see that this isn’t the case with this sauce – it’s a completely natural extremity achieved through the use of 12 Habanero peppers.

Ingredients:

12 Habanero Chillies (40%), Water, Distilled Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Spices, Salt, Garlic, Xanthan Gum

Bottle kindly supplied by Mic’s Chilli

Twisting off the lid releases the unmistakable fragrance of Habaneros and it’s clearly evident from the pungency that this sauce has a high percentage of chilli pepper usage. I can also note hints of the vinegar coming through too. Given that water, the second highest ranked ingredient, has been used as the solution for the Habaneros and other ingredients it is not surprisingly to see Xanthan Gum has been added to thicken it the sauce and hold the blended ingredients together. However its use has been judicious and the sauce, which is a caramel brown like colour, pours easily from the bottle onto my spoon. I can now more easily see that the sauce contains some chilli seeds and flecks of black pepper to give it some texture within the body of the sauce.

Tasting it brings an immense Habanero flavour along with hints of lemon, garlic and black pepper. Whilst vinegar has been used as an ingredient its usage has been well balanced so that whilst I can also detect it, it presence is not by any means overpowering or interfering with the other flavours. As for burn, well not surprisingly – Blamo! There’s an instant burn at the back of my tongue and after a slight delay its pervasiveness builds and spreads towards the front of my mouth, warming my lips. It’s an intense kick which is just what you would expect from 12 Habaneros. A few more spoonfuls and the crescendo of the burn still continues as does the other side effects of capsaicin – my mouth is now salivating like a Pavlov’s dog.

Overall this is a great tasting sauce that meets the needs of chilliheads who like a good, natural burn without having to resort to extract. I can see this working well with meats such as pork and beef. I’ve used it with some pork belly and the robustness of the Habaneros worked really well with the salty, caramelised flavours of the pork.

Mic’s Chilli products are available in the UK via Harvey Nichols, Planet Organic in London and via the online chilli wholesaler Scorchio priced from £3.79 for a 165g bottle.

Right, I’m off to try this sauce on a bacon sarnie…..

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(8/10)
Packaging
(9/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(8.5/10)

*Please remember the heat ratings in reviews are reflective of the personal tolerances of each individual reviewer. We hope that this explains the apparent disparity in the heat marking given to the ‘Inferno Extreme’ sauce reviewed above and the ‘Inferno’ sauce reviewed recently which had a slightly higher heat rating.

 

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These three fellas from Mad-Ass have made quite an impact in the last 12 months. Croydon based and formed by Matthew, Tony and Dave decided to turn their love of all things hot into a business using “as locally as we can get it” produce. Using fresh chillies from Edible Ornamentals and garlic from The Isle of Wight Garlic Farm, they certainly get my vote for supporting the UK growers!  These chaps can be found every Saturday at Surrey Street Market in Croydon selling their range of sauces and delightful hot foods too!

Mad ass mild moleProduced in a 30ml jar for a more than adequate amount of finding your fancy, or 150ml bottle of ‘I must have this on EVERYTHING’, you can have as little or as much as you like.  I was provided a 30ml jar with a quaint label, giving me the exact details of what I want on my bottles; ingredients, use by date, company contact info and of course the logo itself.

Ingredients:

Chipotle Chilies (Home Smoked), Cider Vinegar, Onion, Tomatoes, Demerera Sugar, Chipole Syrup, “The Garlic Farm” Garlic (Smoked), Rice Bran Oil, Cocoa Powder, Smoked Rock-Salt, Cracked Black Pepper.

This Molé sauce has a very thick consistency with lots of chopped onion and visible cracked black peppercorns. It has a lovely dark red/brown colour which compliments the engrossing smokey aroma completely.

Whilst cinnamon is not listed on the ingredients, you really do get a little pang whilst the chipotle slowly warms your mouth in a very pleasant way. There is no sharpness like you would expect with some sauces containing Cider vinegar, only a sweet blending of the garlic and onions. I know it is a difficult task to get the balance of smokey flavours right, and this sauce has found that ideal level.

As far as ideas for use… Burger relish. Putting it atop a pasta salad. Mix it into refried beans for your mexican evenings making tacos, burritos, nachos etc. Spice up a baked potato and mix it with tuna perhaps. If you’re stuck for ideas in making your own Chilli Con Carne, brown the meat (or meat substitute) and use a few tablespoons of this, serve with rice for a no fuss simple and effective meal!

As it can be found in either a 30ml jar for £2.00, or a 150ml bottle for £5.00 on the Mad-Ass website, If you’re looking for a medium heat, thick sauce full of smokey gusto, this is perfect for you!

Flavour
(6/10)
Heat
(7/10)
Packaging
(6/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(6.75/10)

 

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Everyone is likely to be familiar with Heinz as a manufacturer, famous for their baked beans and tomato ketchup but now they’ve started branching out in to hot sauce, perhaps riding on its current popularity. It’s a clever move by Heinz because there really isn’t that much competition on the supermarket shelves, having mostly just Tabasco and Encona to compete against. This one, Smokey & Spiced Chipotle & Garlic, sits at the mild end of the series, with Green Jalapeno and Yellow Habanero being its two older siblings.

Anyone in the know about all things chilli will probably turn their nose up at this one without giving it a chance, favouring the small, handmade products likely to contain more love and perfection. Everyone has to start somewhere on their chilli journey though, and if this can open the eyes of the supermarket shoppers to the world of hot, that might not be a bad thing.

Ingredients:

Spirit Vinegar, Tomato Puree, Chipotle Chilli (4%), Sugar, Onions, Salt, Herbs, Garlic, Smoked Spices, Peppers, Spice Extract, Thickener – Xanthan Gum.

The labeling on this jar is a touch bleak –it’s done in the typical Heinz style, but in deep matt black, which sort of compliments the colour of the sauce. A claim of a medium heat also seems a bit unlikely, particularly given the choice of chilli but perhaps the sauce will surprise in terms of flavour. However, getting this one on to the spoon from the 150ml bottle is a bit of a struggle given the eye-dropper top; the only way to change this is to take a knife to it (please take care if you do and please change this Heinz).

Finally with a good measure on the spoon, the aroma of the sauce has the opportunity to escape and hit the olfactory system, but if you’re not a fan of vinegar there might be a tad of disappointment. It dominates the odours making it difficult to pick anything else out, except perhaps a hint of BBQ.

Initially on the tongue the sauce has a sweet smokey flavour, it’s certainly not a disagreeable experience, but the bitter vinegar soon overpowers the taste. There’s a pleasant enough tickle heat wise, but it’s unlikely to challenge the seasoned chilli-head, let-alone set the mouth on fire.

Unfortunately there’s really not a lot to recommend here, there’s just nothing stand-out about it leaving it simply average. It’s clearly made from a bulk pulp to a price, but that said it is cheap and is unintimidating to the newbie. There are dozens and dozens of tastier choices out there mind, even if they do cost a few pounds more.

Flavour
(5/10)
Heat
(2/10)
Packaging
(5/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(5/10)

 

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Picking up this Habanero Heatwave sauce from Chillies2U, I was undecided on what to expect, the packaging is basic and habanero is even spelt incorrectly, normally this sort of thing would put me off any other product, however as this is a chilli product I always try and keep an open mind because you can never judge a book by its cover.  I know a lot of great companies start off very small in the chilli world and grow by word of mouth rather than advertising campaigns.

I tried this sauce both in cooking and as a dipping sauce and I personally prefer it as a table sauce as it has the perfect consistency and that great flavour which effortlessly compliments chips and meats. It has a really good combination of flavours which leads to an addictive sauce, the lip smacking kind which you will keep topping up your plate with.

The few ingredients used are all natural meaning no nasty preservatives and a fresh, homemade tasting sauce. The habanero and lime work really well together, this combined with the white vinegar leads to a perfectly balanced sauce oozing with flavour

You can read more about this small Oxfordshire farm and purchase this sauce and other products on the Chillies2u website

A 150ml Bottle will cost £3.75 plus postage

Ingredients:

Chilli, Sweet Peppers, Lime juice, White wine vinegar & Onion

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(6.5/10)
Packaging
(4/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(7/10)

 

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