Quite simply Blair's 16 Million Reserve is the hottest foodstuff currently known to mankind. Produced by Extreme Foods of New Jersey in a limited edition of 999 bottles at a price of USD $199 a bottle, it has only recently been released on an unexpecting world.

Run by Blair Lazaar, Extreme Foods has made something of a name for itself producing extremely hot chili sauces with names such as Mega Death and Jersey Death together with a range of commemorative T-shirts and similar paraphenenlia. It should be explained here, that in the United States chili is the ultimate macho food, with its own band of chili devotees or 'chili heads', who prize sheer heat above all else. (Whereas the United Kingdom in comparison has its own band of dedicated hot food devotees ever searching for the ultimate phaal curry.)

Now the Americans seemingly measure the fieriness of their food in terms of Scoville units, a scale developed by the American chemist Wilbur Scoville in 1912. Currently the hottest known naturally occurring food is the Red Savina pepper from Mexico which weighs in at an impressive 570,000 Scoville units, but this is apparently not sufficiently fiery to satisfy everyone. Extreme Foods has therefore developed a sideline in producing limited quantities of collectors editions of increasingly potent condiments bearing names such as the 2am Reserve and the 6am Reserve, with the latter weighing in at 10 million Scoville units.

The company now appears to have perfected its 'secret' distillation process to extract what is, in essence, pure capsaicin crystal, and package it in a 1ml pharmaceutical grade vial topped with a wax seal. The resulting product, Blairs 16 Million Reserve weights in at a mighty 16 million Scoville units (hence the name) or 8,000 times hotter than everyday Tabasco sauce. It is apparently so hot that prospective purchasers are required to sign a disclaimer and are requested to only handle the sauce wearing protective gloves and appropriate safety eye wear.

Whereas the practical application of such a product must be extremely limited and even the makers themselves caution that it "is not a sauce or an ingredient", claiming that it has been "made available for experimental/display purposes only" it seems that there is a market, albeit a limited one, amongst US chili heads for such products even if only to place a bottle on their mantelpiece.

Exactly what it feels like to taste what can only be called weapons grade chili sauce is best left to Mr Lazaar himself, who described the experience of actually tasting his 16 Million Reserve as "like having your tongue hit with a hammer. Man, it hurt. My tongue swelled up and it hurt like hell for days." And this is from a man who likes hot food.

Extreme caution is advised when faced with a bottle.


The Sunday Telegraph of 8th May 2005 and www.extremefood.com