The 2021 UK Craft Hot Sauce Awards

The 2021 UK Craft Hot Sauce Awards

Mark McAulay

In previous years, we'd submitted sauces in the hope they might be good enough to make the top 100 list in the UK. An annual list collated by Bauce Brothers in London. Year on year, this has evolved. From a simple "top 100" list in 2019 to a list which could be voted on in 2020 to a full blown awards in 2021. In 2019, we were delighted to see Het Sass listed. In 2020, Reapers & Blackberries finished in 4th place!

This year the Top 100 entries were categorised into 5 separate categories. Collab, Wild Card, Caliente, Ferment and Classico. This gives a top 20 in each category. A round of public voting is then used to bring those lists of 20 down to lists of 5. From that point, an invited judge in each category would score the 5 sauces and select a winner.

We chanced our arm and submitted two sauces when submissions opened in September. Our mega popular collaboration with Fierce Beer, "Smokin' Sanchez" into the "Collab" category. And our newest and most neon clad monster, "7Pot Pineapple" into the "Caliente" category.

24th October we knew we'd made the top 100 list for the third year running. Turns out that Bauce Brothers weren't sick to death of us yet! Public voting began at that point and continued for a few weeks. A pretty nerve-wracking time to be honest. There's no way of knowing how things are going until the short list is announced.

On the 21st November, public voting had ended. The shortlist for each category was announced. We discovered that both our sauces had made top 5 in their respective categories. Shit got real.

On the 19th December, the winners were announced. Five videos were released on YouTube for each category and we watched them all. We might have watched the "Collaboration" and "Caliente" videos first. We did watch every minute of every video after that.

First up, "Smokin' Sanchez" finished in 3rd place in the "Collab" category. We've always been proud of this sauce. We're forever honoured that we get to play with Fierce Beer. Fierce are a brewery close to home who aren't afraid to go big on flavour and impact.

And in "Caliente", our "7Pot Pineapple" took the win! It's taken us over a week to bend our heads around this. The feelings have ranged from delight, to full imposter syndrome. It's the greatest accolade we've received. Hearing the judge, Justin Deighton from Two Tribes, talk about our product was terrifying. We had to watch it a few times to let it sink in and even then, we weren't sure it was all real.

When this became a fully fledged awards this year, we weren't sure how we'd fare. To be completely honest, since we popped up in 2019, the craft hot sauce scene in the UK has exploded. With all the competition out there, a sauce maker from the middle of nowhere in N.E Scotland might not get a look in. Turns out we are wrong about that. Winning a category is one of the highlights of our year. It's something we'll never forget.

With new collaborations in the works and a refresh of our lineup happening this year, we may well enter some again in 2022.

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