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REVIEW: Spice Island Chilli - Ghost Ship

The label scares me. It markets itself as a super-hot hot sauce and the Ghost Ship name is not just a nod to the HMS Eurydice wrecked off Portsmouth, as they claim. It also refers to one of the chilli types used, and the front of the bottle describes the sauce as a ‘Ghost Pepper and Garlic Super Hot Chilli Sauce’. Having said this, Ghost Pepper is just 1% of this sauce and the majority of chilli here is Scotch Bonnet (3%), so it’s really more of a Scotch Bonnet sauce than Ghost Pepper. The bottle’s heat scale shows the maximum six chillies and it is the hottest sauce in the Spice Island Chilli range. There are plenty of warning signs.

The sauce itself is a deep red in colour, with flecks of black pepper and a few white specks that look like chilli seeds. I say ‘look like’ as they could be normal red pepper seeds, the main flavour of this sauce coming from the roasted red peppers that constitute 74% of the sauce. This is what hits you when you first open the bottle and smell the sauce, and it’s the first flavour you taste, along with a little garlic, before the heat arrives. On first test, these are the only flavours I really noticed, although the ingredients also list lime and smoked paprika. Maybe I get the lime.

There is a ferocity to this heat, but it is quite manageable if taken cautiously. It hit me first when swallowing, at the back of the mouth, but the heat did not linger. It built a little, arrived in different parts of the mouth, then subsided swiftly. I feel safe. I won’t be shovelling this down by the tablespoon, but in small amounts it’s a tasty sauce and makes a good, spicy condiment. Perhaps the company has slightly over-stated the heat. Certainly it’s given me a dangerously inflated sense of my chilli tolerance.

My second taste test was with burgers - just a simple Quorn burger - and I found this sauce useless. The flavour I had enjoyed when tasting the sauce on its own had gone. It’s lost, even to something as mild as a Quorn burger. The amount of sauce you need to use before you get the real flavour of the sauce is unpleasant in terms of heat. You get good heat with a little bit of sauce but you get no sauce flavour. For flavour, you need to make the food nasty to eat. So as a condiment this sauce only adds heat.

For me, I prefer a sauce with lots of flavour and a heat that allows you to enjoy those flavours. This is not a novelty sauce, so it is not meant to trick you or hurt you, and I’m enjoying blobs on bread, but as a table sauce it’s not as useful as some of the others.

£6.00 for 250ml / £24 per litre

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