Recently, Torchbearer Sauces ran a promotion as they prepared to open up the e-commerce section of their website: 50% off everything for those willing to test the system. So I bit. I had been eyeing their line of numbered sauces with clever names and varying heat levels since I first read about them over on Hot Sauce Blog, but even though they were well-reviewed, I had never really sought them out. This deal, however, was too good to resist.
Based on my current tolerance level, I decided to pick up their three hottest sauces. I had recently been frustrated by taking chances on sauces with “XXXtra” in their name that barely registered a tingle, so the last thing I wanted was to be disappointed by the heat level from Torchbearer. From lowest number/heat to highest number/heat, I went with: #23 Fever, #37 Tarnation, #42 Slaughter, and my 50% discount. The sauces all come in 8oz. glass jars with some kind of funny, folky drawing and story on their label. One is about a guy who could pop chest hairs on demand who says “watch at this,” another is about a woman with a sawed-off shotgun, and all elicited chuckles from those that read them. Trite, but at least it’s something original.
I first noticed that the ingredient lists for these three sauces were identical except that the ingredients were in a different order, meaning they would probably have the same base taste, with a little heat traded for sweetness in the milder ones. I started with the Fever Sauce ($11.95 on their website) on a Friday night giant burrito dinner. The smell of this sauce was immediately recognizable as pure fruity habanero. I did a quick spoon test to gauge the heat level, and then proceeded to spoon a little onto my burrito before each bite. By the time the burrito was gone, so was half the jar of Fever sauce, and my mouth was pleasantly tingly. I was satisfied, though I had eaten $6 worth of sauce at one sitting. Within a few days, the Fever Sauce was gone, having been slathered on pizza and other small burritos. That was quick.
Next up was Tarnation sauce, which lasted a little longer. For two weeks, I slathered it onto turkey wraps for lunch, the occasional slice of pizza, and even a burger or two. It was definitely very hot, actually bragging that it is the second hottest (certified) natural sauce in the world at 38,202 scoville units. I loved this sauce and was sad to see it go (especially at a price of $14.95). I waited a week or so for the perfect opportunity to bust open the Slaughter sauce. Then it came: I splurged for a sausage pizza from Milton’s. Slaughter sauce weighs in at 67,582 scoville units (compared to the average jalepeno at under 5,000 units), and claims to be the hottest natural sauce in the world - quite the challenge. The picture to the right gives a good idea of the consistency of the sauce - it’s about the same as natural peanut butter or prepared horseradish. I did the obligatory spoon test with the slightest bit of sauce and was instantly burning and very afraid. I spooned it extremely lightly onto my first slice. The taste of this sauce is akin to eating raw, ground habaneros with a slight sweetness. Very fruity, very fresh. The flavors of the other ingredients do not come though, but they add great, spreadable texture to this wonderful sauce.
By the third slice, I was applying it more liberally and burning up quite nicely while riding the endorphin high. This is a great sauce. I highly recommend it. For a reference on the heat level, I use Dave’s Total Insanity as an everyday sauce for sandwiches and find it quite tolerable but pleasantly fiery. Now that the 50% off sale is over, an 8oz. bottle of Slaughter sauce will run you $19.95 (regular price $24.95 but currently on sale). This might be cost prohibitive to the most extreme chileheads, but my jar is still in the fridge and I expect it will last several more weeks, so don’t let the price scare you away. If you get a chance, read the story of how Torchbearer Sauces came to be - it’s inspiring, enough so that I plan to try my own hand at homemade fiery sauces this summer.