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‘Aberdeen isn’t known for hot sauce, but it is now’: How London inspired Singularity Sauce Co

Mark McAulay launched Singularity Sauce Co at the tail end of 2019 — and it has grown exponentially ever since...

Singularity Sauce owner Mark McAuley. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson
Singularity Sauce owner Mark McAuley. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Yes, Singularity Sauce Co was born in the north-east — more specifically Tarves.

But the concept behind the thriving hot sauce company was actually inspired by Mark McAulay’s time in London.

Some of the award-winning sauces. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Now 47, he spent “several years” in the England capital and soaked up as much knowledge on the city’s food and drink sector as possible.

Finding himself hooked on the hot sauces available, Mark decided to form Singularity Sauce Co in November 2019.

What started out as a small operation based in his house in Tarves is now a smokin’ hot business, complete with its own custom “sauce lab”, that works with both local brands and national ones all across the country.

‘It lit a fire under me’: The impact that living in London had on the north-east entrepreneur

“Spending years in London shone a light on what could be achieved with small batch, interesting products,” says Mark, whose background lies in design and brand strategy.

“Each small batch, locally-produced hot sauce seemed to have a family history or a desire to set the world on fire.

The products are made at the Singularity Sauce Co unit in Dyce. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

“They all wanted to make better sauces than what can be found in the big shops. I took it all in, and it lit a fire under me.

“When I moved back to Aberdeen, I took a new hobby with me.

Scotch bonnets. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

“I played at that hobby for several years before a chef working in the city asked if he could use some of my hot sauces on his menu. The rest is history.”

Singularity Sauce Co has continued to grow year on year. Mark recently moved production from his home kitchen to a custom built sauce lab in Dyce.

Singularity Sauce Co now making tens of thousands of bottles annually — but what’s in the range?

Mark went on to say: “We have gone from making 10 to 20 bottles of sauce at a time to tens of thousands of bottles per year.

“Along the way we’ve earned the respect of dedicated hot sauce shops, other craft hot sauce producers and subscription services across the UK.”

The business owner runs Singularity Sauce Co as a one-man band. However, he is supported by friends and family, including (and especially) wife Kathryn.

Mark outside his custom built sauce lab. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

They are currently refining the product range for the rest of 2023 and into 2024.

The core hot sauce range will include Miso, which was “made by accident and went on to break all records of popularity”, Everyday, Buffalo, Our Hottest Sauce — featuring approximately 47% of Moruga scorpion chillies — and 7 Pot Pineapple.

“Whenever we release something new, people go bananas for it,” adds Mark.

“Miso is currently our most popular sauce by some margin. 7 Pot Pineapple is insanely popular but limited by how much of it we can actually make in a year.

The Lynx set. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

“They are my personal favourites. But our forthcoming Buffalo Hot Sauce is going to change things.”

In addition to these, the brand has a growing roster of collaboration sauces.

Fierce Beer, The Aberdeen Lynx, The Gaff and The Coffee Apothecary are among the line-up with more in the works for the year ahead.

Sauce for ice cream, anyone? Plus how the tongue tingling range is brought to life…

Another special product that Mark produces every year is known as ‘Buy Ice Cream’.

The concept is a dessert sauce gone wrong and each one is different — from hot chocolate-based to black forest flavour to medium-to-hot raspberry sauce.

For the range as a whole, the chillis come from growers in Scotland, Bedfordshire, Cornwall and Devon.

Miso Hot Sauce. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

“Some ingredients have to come in through international food and drink markets,” adds Mark. “However, we buy through local businesses wherever we can.

“We have locally-made vinegars and kombucha, locally-sourced berries and, of course, we put it all together ourselves in Aberdeen.”

Some of the sauces and ingredients. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Speaking about the process, the entrepreneur went on to say: “When we ferment, we run this process between 21 to 30 days typically. It’s a little longer when the weather gets colder.

“Producing the sauce is reasonably quick from that point and we can have a batch made, bottled and labelled in a matter of hours.

“I’d say the production/packaging side accounts for just over 40% of the week at present.”

Where can I buy Singularity Sauce Co in the north-east?

Above all, Mark loves meeting people face-to-face at local markets — one of the options to go for if you’re after some of the brand’s hot sauce.

However, you’ll also be able to purchase items from the Singularity Sauce Co website and at a growing number of delis, butchers, bakeries, hot sauce shops, stores and bars throughout the UK (as well as France and Germany).

Mark launched the brand in 2019. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

The business’ triumphs include winning several Great Taste Awards and Best New Product at the 2023 North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards, to name a few.

Mark said: “Being recognised nationally and internationally for hot sauce is everything I could have ever hoped for.

“As part of our growth plans, we are looking for regional and national distributors to scale our ever-growing list of stockists.

The original flavour. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

“I mean traditionally, Aberdeen isn’t known for hot sauce. But it is now.

“We’d like to thank the people of north-east for continuing to entertain this lunacy.

“It’s only because of your continued support and you buying our products that we’ve been able to go on to put the region on the map for craft hot sauce.”