For me, hot sauces weren’t really a thing growing up in Scotland (outside of the occasional dusty bottle of Tabasco left at the back of a cupboard). It was only when another local hot sauce maker called The Glasgow Chilli Guy started making his wonderful sauce Megadeth did I realise just how tasty they could be. Up to that point, I’d bought the occasional bottle of the stupidly hot joke sauces that were so strong and so disgusting that they’d put you off sauce for years!
Sadly, after a while, The Glasgow Chilli Guy stopped making sauces coincidentally around the same time as a cartoonist chum named Nulsh gave me a plastic carrier bag full to the brim with dried chipotles. I put those things in damn near everything, until I realised I’d made everything except a sauce!
After starting Tom's Curious Sauces I attended the BBC Good Food Show after being awarded a table based on how good the sauce was. I’d never done a proper food show before and it’s quite an experience having thousands of people try the sauce (some loving it, some hating it).
It hasn’t been all fun and games. There have been so many hurdles. From rained-out markets to angry trademarks trolls, you’re going to come up against problems. Just roll with the punches and keep going. The world wants to try your sauce!
In Scotland, we’ve got some fantastic small batch sauce makers like Singularity Sauce Co, Ooft! Sauce, and Trodden Black. We’re all making different kinds of sauces and jams so it doesn’t feel like anyone is stepping on each other’s toes.
My advice to you if you are starting a hot sauce company is to plan it well. Visit your local health inspectors (and get them to visit you). They’re not the enemy and will give you invaluable advice.
Also, pick a good name and designer. You don’t want to decide 6 months down the line that your labels are rubbish, or go through a relatively expensive trademark dispute and rebrand.
If you're interested in trying new hot sauces and hearing their stories, sign up for the Craft Hot Sauce subscription box. Getting small-batch hot sauces and their stories to the people!