2021 Our best year ever
We turned two. We entered some awards in USA. One of our sauces appeared on Hot Ones. Some of our sauces turned up in Australia. We got stocked in Selfridges. The sauces became available in Berlin. We were in The Scotsman and The Times. We did well in the UK Craft Hot Sauce Awards. We collaborated with more people than ever before. We made new products and we made lots of new friends.
As the year ends, Singularity Sauce Co. Ltd turned 2 years old.
But let's begin back in April. We had the opportunity to get one of our sauces on Hot Ones. This ridiculous opportunity came from all round Hot Sauce heroes, Hop Burns & Black. Some rambling about Teletubbies happened. The rest is history.
In summer, we made the largest quantity of Het Sass for a single order yet. A whopping 1250 bottles. There was no margin for error on the delivery of them. There was only one sensible course of action. To drive to Edinburgh in an ice cream van with Fits The Scoop supremo Andy.
We collaborated with Fits The Scoop again this year. We concocted "The Quickening". The second hot sauce ice cream we've made together. This one contains our Purple Naga Viper Brain & Blueberries sauce. We combine it with blueberry ice cream and lemon coated popping candy. We had STALLEN do the artwork. It looks and tastes the business. Seek it out like The Kurgan looking for Connor MacLeod. Sticking with the PNVB, we did a few more unexpected collabs in summer. We assisted the mightiest bakery in the Milky Way Galaxy to make a bun for their SUNDAY BUNDAY event. We helped Chill Out Cheesecakes make a raspberry/PNVB cheesecake. Finally, local beer heroes, Fierce, even made a beer.
Once again amused by how small a world it is, a case of sauce left sleepy little Tarves in the North East of Scotland. 11 days later, it arrived in Sydney. I've never set foot on Australia but something I've made has had a little bit of an impact there. That's really cool.
And so at some point in the year, I'd decided we should be on TikTok. That's where I found him. My first experience of "Hairy Spice" was when I discovered a video of him with our sauces. He was downing a shot of our Reapers & Blackberries sauce and gargling with it. In a later video, he showed everyone who's boss when he downed a whole bottle of our 7Pot Pineapple sauce. I had to try and slow him down. I made a new terror. A hot and sour concoction using Moruga Scorpions. Available as 40ml bottles because any more would be ridiculous. Given that Hairy Spice in known to down bottles in one go, I've made him a special, larger, one off bottle. Give him a follow on TikTok and let's see how he gets on with it.
Over summer, we began appearing at Curated Aberdeen in the cities Bon Accord Centre. These were unique trading opportunities for us. The market fees were donated, in full to Charlie House for their Big Build campaign. I'm embarrassed to say that before these markets, I was unaware of what this charity actually does. So while I may complain about things being challenging, my exposure to this charity has firmly put things in context. These legends help people go through unimaginable difficulties. Please help them if you are able to.
Singularity Sauce Co. Ltd became even more of a family business this past year with our daughter now working some hours. It's a perfect fit while she learns about work and while I learn how to step away a bit and let other people do their thing. Important lessons for us both. Mrs M continues to be the solid core that makes it all happen. Kat keeps me focussed on what's important. She drives me away from the negative and is always there with great ideas or some harsh reality when I need it most. None of this happens without her.
I ended last years write up by saying that moving into commercial premises must happen early in 2021. A full year later, I'm convinced this is the longest it's ever taken someone not to move in somewhere. We're currently evaluating a couple of options.
In July, it had become obvious that we required more financial expertise and input in our books. Appointing a chartered accountant was one of the best things I did this year.
Before summer, I received an email from Selfridges in London. Yes, Selfridges. Yes, that one. We chatted and they placed an order for the full range for the food hall to hit the summer BBQ season. Summer is now long gone but orders still come. It is a great honour to be stocked in one of the most famous food halls in the world.
On the topic of stockists, we now have stockists from Peterhead to Portsmouth. Leaving these shores, we're now stocked in Berlin also.
In July, local lovelies, POST interviewed me. They were brilliant to work with. As a huge plus, the local web traffic and interest generated continues to be superb.
In August, The Scotsman wrote an article about our appearance in Selfridges. That got us lots of new attention from other parts of Scotland.
In December, our Jalapenos & Apples sauce found its way into the Christmas Gift Guide in The Times.
It wasn't all plain sailing this year. Apart from our ongoing premises saga, there was another low. Many reasons lead to us going on a catastrophic run of missing markets in the run up to Christmas. Our most important trading time. In November and December, of the seven markets we were counting on we only ended up with two. One of those got cancelled only a couple of hours into trading due to safety concerns on the building. Nothing we could do about that and we took it on the chin. Our final market of the year was the NorthHop Festive Market at Schivas. That one went ahead and was a brilliant day.
It was April before we brought you something new for 2021. We brought you our take on a mustard sauce and you bought it in numbers. We had Paul Mullen tackle the label for this one and it looks superb. We also brought you 500ml bottles of it and while we were at it, Het Sass and Smokin' Het also.
Also in April, we unleashed the 2021 version of Buy Ice Cream. Our "dessert sauce gone wrong" concept, now in its second year. Tidy on ice cream and outrageous stirred into a pot of chilli. We made 50 bottles and sold them in a matter of days.
This was the year that Sheena at Galloway Chillies supplied me with her 7Pot Yellow chillies. I knew exactly what to do with them. While I got the sauce on to ferment, Graeme Smith and me figured out the labels for it. In September, we launched the first 80 bottles of 7Pot Pineapple. We sold out in a few weeks. We released the rest for sale in December and they were all spoken for by the end of the year.
I'd been speaking to The Gaff in Ellon, Aberdeenshire for some time. The owner, Mike and myself, started up around the same time and it feels like our journeys are linked. They are now. In October, we launched our collaboration sauce. What we think is the perfect complimentary hot sauce for pizza. It's an honest to goodness hot sauce. This one has bags of flavour, heat and depth. It's called PI-RO.
In Autumn, I had another chat with our besties in London, Hop Burns & Black. Their business would turn seven in October and they were planning to celebrate. Included in their birthday pack would be a beer and a coffee made by some of their friends in the capital. They asked us to make the hot sauce. This was like a dream. We made them a Bajan style sauce. It's called "BURNS". It of course fits in the middle of their "HOP" beer and "BLACK" coffee birthday pack.
We released our Chipotle infused Maple Syrup as "Trees Give Us Good Things" near the end of the year. We also released the first version of our prototype wing sauce. To complete the year, we made our Christmas special. We made Redcurrant & Habanero jelly and it's one of the tastiest chilli products we've ever made. Everyone who's tried it has asked for more. Hold that thought.
We entered the "Old Boney Mountain International Hot Sauce Competition" over in California. I'd been aware of this one from last year and thought the challenge would be good for us. It meant going up against sauces from all over the world, including some of the best in the US. We didn't win anything but we were named in the "top 10 best fruit based hot sauces in the world".
And so to the UK Craft Hot Sauce Awards. Entry to these awards begins with making the top 100 list in the UK. That's something we've now miraculously managed to do 3 years in a row. We went big this time and ended up with two sauces in the top 100. This year, the list was segmented into 5 categories, giving a top 20 in each category. The 100 sauces were then voted for by the public and shortlisted to 5 in each category. At this point, the judges score each sauce and to select a winner in each category. We ended up making top 5 in two categories. Our collaboration with Fierce Beer "Smokin' Sanchez" was in the "collab" category. Our "7Pot Pineapple" in the "caliente" category. We finished the "collab" category in third place and we only went and won the "caliente" category! Not too shabby!
There are new collaborations coming in 2022 and a small refresh of the lineup will happen. A couple of our sauce labels will go under the design knife and of course, new sauces will need new labels.
Year two has been challenging at times. Yet it's also been surprising and very enjoyable. I've never said any of this is easy though. It continues to be the most difficult career choice I've made. And yet, I'm thankful for every second I get to do a job I love. Every time you buy some sauce, you encourage me to work harder. Thank you to everyone who has rooted for us this year. You supported our planning application. You voted for us in awards. You told more people than ever about us. You liked, shared and retweeted us, collaborated with us and took a shot on buying from us. Yours is the opinion I will always value most. Let's 2022 it.