The Carolina Reaper is currently recognized by Guinness World Records as the hottest pepper on earth. As such, I made sure to finally pick up a plant on my visit to a local garden center back in late May. While the plants grew and with my mysterious “Trinidad Scorpions” purchased from the same shop, I was worried that my reaper wasn’t what it claimed to be. The shape of the fruit looked more ghost-like, but smaller and with a more pronounced stinger.

Carolina Reaper

My first taste test of one of the four I recently picked for drying earlier this week proved that, though it was small and not traditionally shaped, this was most definitely not a Bhut Jolokia. This little pepper was no joke.

You can’t really see it in the below photo, but once this fruit was cut open, wells of oil formed in the two halves. The placenta stretched just about the entire length of pepper from stem to stinger. And the aroma wafting from this little thing was potent! It just smells like it’s going to hurt as a floral pungency fills the air.

Carolina Reaper

This being my first shot at tasting a freshly picked Carolina Reaper, I was understandably nervous. I cut off a small sliver, just a bit smaller than that of the ghost pepper I sampled earlier. Holy shit. This small piece of pod was easily hotter and more potent than the larger sample of the ghost I reviewed. It’s like perfumy, floral napalm.

I’ve eaten a few hot peppers and sauces in my time, but I’ve never had anything affect my nasal passages like this thing did. The heat is immediate, overtaking my tongue, throat and causing a lasting tingle in my lips that was still there almost an hour later. I don’t believe I ate enough of the pepper to cause any sort of endorphin rush, but the sample I took was enough to let me know that I have one hell of a pepper plant on my hands — one that I’m thinking of trying to overwinter.