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REVIEW - Pip's Hot Sauce - Black Mass

Perfect example of the skull-and-menace aesthetic and the crossover between hot sauce and heavy metal. Also a perfect example of the novelty hot sauce.

Tastewise, this is quite good. The black garlic and garlic are there right from the beginning, along with the roasted onion, and this first taste is the best moment for the flavours. The heat has quite a delay before it builds. Immediately after the heat there is a slightly acrid tang, which is not pleasant, although it doesn’t last long. This is a simple, savoury sauce and should be good with just about anything.

The huge skull on the front of the bottle and the name ‘Black Mass’ are of that aesthetic that suggests the sauce is dangerous and/or evil. This is compounded by the bottle design, which is a style called an ‘apothecary’ bottle. It’s basically the same as the old Dettol bottle that sat at the back of Mum’s medicine cupboard. So it’s suggestive of medicine or poison, presumably poison given the skull.

They go a step further with this aesthetic. The colour of the sauce is nearly black. I hoped this was from the black garlic, but it’s actually from the addition of charcoal. In the bottle this looks ominous but fine, while on the plate it just doesn’t look like something you want to eat. A kind of grainy, greeny, charcoal, off-black slime.

All of this promise of death and darkness makes the medium heat of the sauce (they don’t offer a scale but this would probably score a 3.5 out of 5 on most) a little underwhelming.

Clearly this is not a sauce designed for me. I object to it on several levels. I’m not a fan of the skull-and-menace aesthetic in hot sauces, and I find the colour on the plate unappetising. The front and middle flavours are good and I like the delayed heat - adding a new dimension to the experience of the sauce - but it’s a shame about that brief aftertaste. I’m not quite sure what causes this but wonder if it might be the charcoal. Perhaps this sauce is intended to be a gift more than anything, in which case I suppose it’s fun. As a condiment, I have eighteen hot sauces in the fridge right now and I can’t imagine when I would reach for this one.

I have two more of Pip’s hot sauces to try and the others are packaged and named quite differently, so I have high hopes, although I realise now I’ve ordered their superhot Nagatropolis which might have been a mistake…

£8 per 200ml / £40 per litre

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