Here's a look back at some of the things which happened. There was a lot of learning to be done and that of course meant making mistakes along the way. Fixing mistakes is something I had to become good (and fast) at this year.
In 2018, I turned my sauce hobby into a small business. It was easy to make this happen and there was no pressure to get everything right straight away. It was all very relaxed, until it wasn't…
Our first stockistFormartines in Aberdeenshire is a well regarded eatery and food hall which has always been a source of local and interesting ingredients for me. It gave me an immense sense of achievement for the sauce to be added to the food hall and to occasionally be used on the menu. A year on, Formartines continues to be a strong supporter of the sauce.
Reapers & Mangos destroyed youIn February 2019, I launched "Reapers & Mangos". This one was terrifying. I fermented it, bottled it and promptly destroyed everyone who came into contact with it. So many people told me it was too hot and I thought I'd made a big mistake. The next version used much less Carolina Reapers. That's when people started saying they preferred the brutal version after all. I reverted the recipe and it'll stay that way.
HET SASS launchedUntil this point, every sauce I'd made was on the extreme side and I liked the challenge of now making something with the same process and the same care and attention as my other sauces which was still hot but which more people could enjoy. Mrs McAulay got involved and March 2019 saw the birth of HET SASS. It is our most popular sauce.
Transatlantic Habanero Express
My first collaboration came with someone very far away. Luke Lorentz runs "Luke's Handcrafted Hot Sauce" from his home in New Jersey, USA and this guy knows what the hell he's doing. "Transatlantic Habanero Express" was launched in April 2019. A pretty unique collaboration with Luke making the sauce in USA and me making the sauce in UK to an identical recipe/process. Both have the same labels. I will be making some more of it soon for more of you to experience.
Winner of the "One to Watch" competitionMuch to my surprise, in May 2019, Singularity Sauce Co. was announced as the winner of the Society Magazine "One to watch" competition. This came with a lot of exposure and generated a lot of interest in what I was up to. The main prize was a stand at the forthcoming Taste of Grampian food and drink event in Aberdeenshire. Also in May, I took the opportunity to roll out the new label designs and website I'd been working on since January.
Taste of Grampian 2019Nothing, but NOTHING could have prepared me for the Taste of Grampian event in June 2019. I only had a few weeks to get ready for the event. That meant very little sleep while making enough sauce to sell and figuring out what I needed for the stand. Fortunately, Mrs McAulay was on hand to help me with the sauce production and Stacy Barr and Jamie Laird were there for me to help with the stand. Honestly, you don't know who your friends are until you're up against it. This event wouldn't have happened without their help, thank you. I met so many people and was basically chained to the stand all day. Thanks must go to Scott Couper for bringing me beer :)
Aberdeen cityFrom the off, I aimed to be stocked within the city of Aberdeen. July 2019 saw that happen. Both Hammerton Store and Foodstory took the sauce and popped it on their shelves. Meet the Meat and Melt stocked us a little later.
If you're from Aberdeen, you'll probably know about Melt. Mechelle has created a beautiful business and beautiful venue with cheese at the centre of it all. Chatting to Mechelle, we arrived at the very sensible conclusion that Melt required its very own hot sauce. In August 2019, I delivered Facemelt (really, what else could I have called it?). This is probably the most instagrammed sauce we've made. Melt chose to stock some of our other sauces and in doing so, became our fourth Aberdeen stockist :)
More LondonAugust 2019 saw another order from the MIGHTY Hop Burns & Black from their two London locations. I am so grateful of the support that HB&B continue to give us and the feedback we receive from their customers is always so encouraging :)
In September 2019, we combined hot sauce and ice cream (oh yes we did). I made a raspberry and Carolina Reaper syrup which was "rippled" into some plain ice cream and the Raspberry Reaper was born. There was only one local ice cream shop with the balls to try this, my new pals at Fit's the Scoop at Culter, Aberdeen. It's had outings in their shop and also featured at the 2019 Brewdog staff party. Watching people have a bit of a sensory rollercoaster when first trying it has become a favourite thing. “It’s hot…but it’s cold, it burns…but it soothes” etc. etc.
Fierce BeerBack in January 2019, Fierce asked if I fancied making a hot sauce with some of their beer. There really is only one suitable response to a question like that… "FUCK YEAH!" As collaborations go, this one pushed me all the way to my limit and then pushed me some more. I tried a lot of things out and came up with a bunch of recipes. The problem was, I couldn't settle on just one, so I pitched a few and we agreed on three. A number of things chopped and changed as we approached the final recipes and we had a lot of fun getting there. In October 2019, Fierce launched "Scary Berry", "Smokin' Sanchez" and "Monzana del Fuego", three sauces built around the three Fierce beers of Very Berry, Dirty Sanchez and Fuego Feroz. To say the response was good would be to understate things massively. They're only available from Fierce. They feature on the menu in the Edinburgh bar and they're available from the Aberdeen bar, the Edinburgh bar, the brewery and the fierce website. Go get them!
A list and a subscription boxIn November 2019, we received a very unexpected yet very welcome email from Bauce Brothers, stating that Het Sass was to be featured in "The Craft Hot Sauce Hot One Hundred! - One hundred essential hot sauces you need to try in 2020. [UK]".
Seeing my sauce company in the same group as sauce makers I'd looked up to for years was a strange experience. It took me a few days to process that. I'd sent samples of our sauces to Bauce Brothers in London to try them out. The other thing which happened is our "Habaneros & Carrots" sauce made the cut for one of their subscription boxes!
…oh and as we're now talking about more scary things, I resigned from my day job in November 2019 to focus on the sauce company full time. (Remember earlier when I said "It was very relaxed, until it wasn't…"?, well, this is what I meant.)
ALL THE SAUCEDecember 2019 saw me deliver more sauce in one month than I'd thought possible. In short, December was MENTAL! This included the largest single order and the largest order of one kind of sauce. I had to make friends with couriers and I had to "blue Peter" my way around packaging. Most importantly, I had to endure moments of panic as I thought about all the glass bottles full of liquid being chucked around from van to van to depot to location. That is VERY stressful.
Markets and getting out there2019 saw us dip our toe into farmers markets and other events where we could get face to face with people. I thought this would be scary but it’s become one of my favourite things. I’ve taken the sauce on the road regularly to Huntly farmers market and to Chapleton Farmers Market. These have been really welcoming and I’ve made friends at both.
I did “meet the maker” events at Formartines in Aberdeenshire and Meet the Meat in Aberdeen.
I was invited to have a table at a Broch Skateclub family fundraiser day. I’d hardly ever been to Fraserburgh before but I was really taken by what the club are trying to do for their local community, so I immediately said yes. This was a really fun day and I met loads of people all curious to try the sauces.
In November, I was invited to take a table at the Doric Skateboards event at TX in Aberdeen. I took the whole family with me to this one. In general, skateboarders are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people out there and if I could do an event like this every day, I’d sign up now. Thanks to Gary for the invite.
I even got a gig on my home turf this year. I had a table at the Tarves Christmas Fair. For the first time, I was able to meet many of the people I share a village community with, while wearing my hot sauce hat.
…and what's next?
On 15th November 2019, Singularity Sauce Co. became Singularity Sauce Co. Ltd. Those 3 extra letters make a lot of difference to what has been a hobby for so many years. 2020 sees the sauce company become a real life, grown up company. It'll still be run by me but I'm hoping to add one more this year.
I'm still running everything from home. That will have to change this year and I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for the right premises.
January 2020 sees our first inclusion in a hot sauce subscription box with Bauce Brothers.
You'll also see the launch of two new collaboration sauces.
The first of these, for Wee Hemp Spirits, is a rum based hot sauce made with their CBD infused rum. Heavy on the ancho, cut through with apple juice, pineapple juice, ginger and Trinidad Scorpions, this is a pretty unique hot sauce and one for your collection.
The second collaboration is with The Coffee Apothecary and has actually been in the works for many, many months. This one starts with a coffee infused vinegar which gets smashed into blueberries and scotch bonnets. This'll wake you up at any time of the day and you probably haven't had anything quite like it.
Writing this post has made me appreciate how much we've achieved in 2019. Yes, of course there have been scary moments. There have been mistakes, disappointments, let downs and sleepless nights. That's nothing compared to the feeling of delight which has come from seeing my dream become real.
Here's to 2020. See ye there.