One of the things about the global chilehead-scene that keeps me loving and enjoying it, is the spirit of “share and enjoy” within the community. People are usually glad to help each other out with seeds, plants, pods and advice. And when someone has come up with a great recipe, an awesome chilli-powder or a rocking hotsauce, they like to have their peers try it and give their opinion.
This is just how the home-brewed “Fallen Angel” hotsauce made it all the way from Derbyshire in the northern UK to my place in central Berlin. The sauce was created by Brian Mackey who I first got to know from his excellent video-reviews of pods and hotsauces as aeon38. Brian grows his own hot peppers, too, and his “Fallen Angel” sauce is one of things that he uses his harvest for.
The label-design is well done and the rays of light beaming from the clouds create a pretty strong atmosphere that matches the name. I’d have preferred a different font with less of a drop-shadow effect, something to give it a slightly slicker overall look.
The list of ingredients is pleasantly short and holds some surprises: fresh Orange Habanero, Bhut Jolokia, Aji Limon, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, cumin, plain chocolate, chocolate Grappa, salt, black pepper. While one would expect tomatoes, red onion, garlic and cumin to go into a hotsauce, plain chocolate and chocolate Grappa (a choc-flavoured liqueur) are rather unusual. Also the combination of peppers with very different kinds of tastes and heat comes as a bit of surprise.
On cracking the bottle open, there’s an instant tangy and savoury aroma that reminds me of Indonesian seasoning sauces. Must be the Grappa that adds the acidic note because surprisingly, neither vinegar nor other sour-tasting ingredients can be found on the list.
While in the bottle, the texture looks smooth and silky, but when poured onto a spoon, you can see the sauce is rich with chunks. Consistency is very thick, almost like a home-made ketchup, with the same tendency to clog up the neck of the bottle. Nothing a proper shake couldn’t fix, though.
The initial taste is very similar to the sauce’s aroma: tangy, savoury, a touch earthy with veggie notes in the back. Some of the ingredients on the list, like the cumin, I cannot really pick out. Others, like the chocolate, are there but they never push into the front too much. All the different flavours rather blend into one another nicely, creating a distinct, rounded and quite palatable overall taste.
A medium level of heat sets in fairly quickly and you can tell from the stingyness that it probably comes from the Orange Habs and the Aji Limon. The heat actually changes the initial character of the sauce around and now makes it remind me of Mexican concoctions like Mole rather than an Indonesion seasoning sauce. A few sec0nds later, the pungent heat from the Bhut starts to rise, gradually taking over your palate until it dominates and pushes the other flavours into the back. It keeps lingering in your mouth for a while, leaving a numb feel on the tongue with faint echoes of the rich taste bouncing off the insides of the cheeks.
Taste and burn profile of the “Fallen Angel” sauce are both pretty unique, and you can tell that Brian has been putting some thoughts and care into making it. Be prepared for a good whack of flavour and heat – while not in the superhot range, with its special combination of peppers this sauce does have a strong, solid and long-lasting all natural burn. Slow oven-roasted or braised meats and meaty stews would be an ideal purpose to use it for. On its own, “Fallen Angel” could use a pinch more salt in order to make the individual flavours shine even more, and an extra dose of sugar to take a bit of the edge and stingyness off the heat. But these things do not really matter that much when you’re using it in cooking because you’re going to add salt and sugar, anway.
All in all, “Fallen Angel” is a fine home-made hotsauce with a strong characteristic flavour and quite an interesting concept in terms of heat. For it being Brian’s first attempt at creating his own sauce, it’s hands down excellent.