50 shakes of pain: Windward's no nonsense Simply Caribbean hot sauce wants to hurt you real nice.
Walking round Alexandra Park for Moss Side's annual Caribbean Carnival of Manchester, our keen reviewer's eye noticed that all the food stalls, each offering various jerked meats, curried goat and kicking out irresistible olfactory invitations to hungry punters, seemed to carry one staple, go-to hot sauce: Windward West Indian Hot Pepper Sauce.
This saucy ubiquity among purveyors of Caribbean cuisine, which we took to be evidence of authenticity, was a bit of a bonus for us, having just picked up a bottle of Windward's finest, on impulse, from the shelves of a friendly neighbourhood pound shop.
Windward Hot Pepper Sauce is available for a reasonable price then, at the likes of Poundland and at wholesalers. We picked ours up for under £1 (around 79p, we think), for which you get a handsome glass bottle and 230g of fiery goodness.
Previously we've griped that hot sauces, while tasting good, haven't fulfilled their primary MO. We have no complaints about the spiciness of this one.
Windward Hot Pepper Sauce kicks really hard and really quickly, getting right up among your business the moment it reaches your palette. It is a hot, intense and tingly burn, with an almost acrid flavour of chilli spices. With 40% of the contents of the bottle coming from red habanero chilli puree, this sauce does not mess around.
Get past the imposing burn (which hangs around, tempting you back for another hit, as good chilli sauce should) and there is a certain gloopy sweetness and a light fruitiness to be discovered. This will come later though, initially your taste buds will be suffused, panicking, by the combination of raw habanero spice and onion/garlic intensifiers.
It's good, but it is not friendly. A drop or two deployed while cooking dishes adds instant heat, but get too liberal or bullish with it and your dinner will end up feeling like a challenge from Man v. Food or Heat Seekers. It is wicked on sandwiches too, if you're flagging and you need a lunchtime revivifier.
Windward Hot Pepper Sauce is a no frills, all thrills hot sauce for the chilli purist. It does not back down and makes few concessions to flavour and palatability – no mango or lime here – but it does batter you with a giggly, immediate rush of habanero heat. We like it; it seems to hate us.