Monday 8 May 2023

Pipers Upton Cheyney Jalapeño & Dill

I first encountered Pipers Upton Cheyney Jalapeño & Dill several years ago, long before British Crisps came into existence. And you know what? They were delicious, unbelievably gorgeous in fact. Such a rich, strong dill flavour with a fresh, fiery and grassy aftertaste. It was a typical Pipers experience, flavour par excellence. But then there was a drought, a long hard drought where I singled to spot a single packet out in the wild. Luckily, last week, an unplanned diversion into a pub finally brought me face-to-face with this old favourite once again. So, would they live up to my memories?

That original packet of Pipers Upton Cheyney Jalapeño & Dill which I feasted upon, back in the mid-2010s, was purchased in a butchers in the city centre. A butchers long since lost to the onslaught of economic crises and coronavirus. Curiously, I hadn't seen any other packets for sale anywhere (although it appears that Sainsburys stock the 150g bag). But there are certain Pipers flavours that I see everywhere: Lye Cross Cheddar & Onion, Great Berwick Longhorn Beef and Anglesey Sea Salt Crisps. Perhaps this means the Upton Cheyney Jalapeño & Dill crisps simply aren't that popular?

Without delving deep into statistics and sales figures, I'm unlikely to get a definitive answer on their popularity. Instead, British Crisps will do what its best at. Or, at least, what it enjoys doing: savouring crisps from all over the land. Yes, I know that's every right minded person's passion, but not all of them write it down. And there are even some heathens, oddly healthy heathens, who turn their noses up at crisps. But I digress. I may not discover why I've failed to spot these crisps for so long, although I am due an eye test, but I can delve deep into the Upton Cheyney Jalapeño & Dill packet, which is delivered in a difficult to miss lemon-lime colour scheme, and let you know if you need to track them down.

Pipers are one of the benchmarks of quality, premium crisps. They rarely get things wrong. In fact, if they were to make a mistake, there would be a disturbance felt amongst crisp lovers across the nation. Imagine Obi-Wan Kenobi when Alderaan was destroyed, but more intense and melancholy. The colour of the packaging for this particular flavour is strangely garish, but it's not a mistake. Firstly, it stands out from half a mile away. And, secondly, it's a nice combination of the brilliant yellow of dill flowers mixed with the acid green stems of said herb.

Opening the pack reveals little aroma on the first, second and third sniffs aside from potatoes and salt. But, as I've quickly learned, this is no reason for the alarm bells to be dusted down. The crisps themselves are a delicately pale yellow colour, almost straw-like but undoubtedly more tasty, with tiny, dark green shreds of dill providing a haphazard pattern of colour. In terms of crunch, the Upton Cheyney Jalapeño & Dill give you a luxurious experience. Your teeth embark on a first-class, hassle-free journey which you barely realise is happening until the culmination of a satisfyingly clean snap.

The flavour, which is why we're all here, is equally satisfying, yet devilishly deceptive as well. The grassy, citrussy taste of dill is the first thing to hit you, a shot of herby goodness which is quickly followed by a sweet onion fragrance and an acidic edge brought on by the white vinegar listed in the ingredients. This vinegar flavour, combined with the dill, briefly conjures up images of dill pickle. And, for anyone who's ever stepped foot in a McDonalds will know, this is a foodstuff known to induce toddler like tantrums in a heartbeat. Perhaps this is why I've struggled to track these crisps down, the consumer's fear of the dill pickle.

Regardless, and I love dill pickles anyway, it's time to take a look at the final flavour element in these crisps: the jalapeño, which comes from the Upton Cheyney chilli farm. At first, there's nothing. No evidence of chilli. But crisp snafflers beware, the jalapeño is there. It emerges slowly, seemingly from the back of the throat and builds into a crescendo of heat for a good 20 seconds. It's a mild heat, of course, nothing like a Carolina Reaper chill, but it did leave my nose running, along with a much welcomed endorphin rush. With the dill, it goes perfectly, serving up an intense and fresh burst of savoury heat.

Again, Pipers have come up trumps with another top-tier crisp with their Upton Cheyney Jalapeño & Dill variety. It doesn't seem to have quite as intense a dill flavour as I remember, but that's most likely my memory playing tricks. Regardless of any rose tinted memories I have, these crisps are undeniably brilliant. The flavours are delicate and complex and complemented perfectly by the way in which their fiery core emerges. And, as long as I can find them, I'll be buying packet after packet.

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