The hottest chilli is Smokin Ed's 'Carolina Reaper', grown by The PuckerButt Pepper Company (USA), which rates at an average of 1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), according to tests conducted by Winthrop University in South Carolina, USA, throughout 2012.
Aside from being hot, the Caroline Reaper is described as having a fruity, sweet taste with a hint of cinnamon and chocolate undertones.
The incredibly-hot chili was grown by Ed Currie from the The PuckerButt Pepper Company, who develops "weapon quality peppers" as a full time job.
His record-breaking Carolina Reaper - which is a cross between Sweet Habanero and Naga Viper chillies - took ten years to perfect.
The Carolina Reaper’s heat rating beat the former record holder for most fiery chilli, the Trinidad Scorpion "Butch T" grown by The Chilli Factory (Australia), which was rated at 1,463,700 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) in March 2011.
Ed says his interest in chillies became more serious after learning that capsaicin had potential as a cancer fighting drug, a discovery which led to him donating one-half of his pepper harvest last year to cancer research.
"My family dies from cancer a lot," Ed explains. "So I've been researching how not to die."
The Scoville Unit (SHU) scale is a method of quantifying a substance's 'spiciness', through determining the concentration of the chemical compounds responsible for the sensation, which are named capsaicinoids.
We have American chemist Wilbur Scoville to thank for the scale that rates the chillies we chomp. In 1912, long before high-pressure liquid chromatography tests in labs, he relied on taste alone. A grain of chilli was dissolved in an alcoholic solution added to sweetened water until it could barely be noted by a panel of testers. The more dilution required, the higher the rating.
To give an indication of the Carolina Reaper’s spiciness, a Jalapeno can score anything between 2,500 to 8,000 SHU on the scale.
While commonly referred to as vegetables, chillies are in fact fruit from the plant genus "Capsicum".
The heat comes from the substance "capsaicin" which is found in all chillies. As well as livening up dishes, the heat also makes the body produce pleasurable endorphins afterwards.