This sauce looked to be quite a change from the previous Cape Fear Pepper Company hot sauce that we reviewed. Aside from the obvious color difference in the label (which we thought was great, btw), we couldn’t help but be a bit surprised at the name of the sauce.
This was Smolderin’ Chipotle hot sauce. Smolderin’…not smoky, smokey, smoked, smoke-a-licious, or whatever version of “flavor influenced by smoke” adjective you might dream up to use. It seems like such a minor change to the wording, but it’s different. For the most part, anything different is good.
Speaking of different, looking at the ingredients list was rather eye-opening as well. We saw:
Ingredients: Brown Sugar, Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Chipotle Chiles, Chile Peppers, Corn Starch, Salt and Spices.
There aren’t too many hot sauces that we’ve ever seen that list brown sugar as its first ingredient. Heck, there aren’t too many which have brown sugar at all, or that you have to go four spots down the list before you reach an actual chile pepper. Now most chipotle sauces aren’t all that hot compared to their habanero brethren, but this one looked like it might even be milder than usual. As is usually the case, the proof lay within the bottle.
First impression: It’s pretty darn thin and pours quite easily from the bottle. Actually, it pours a little too well…and we nearly spilled out a whole bunch of it trying to pour a little on our fingertips to taste. Taking a quick whiff, we noticed it smells a lot like…uh…BBQ sauce? It really does. Not sure if it’s not quite enough chipotle or the abundance of tomato paste & brown sugar, but it has a distinctly BBQ-ish aroma to it.
Taste: Giving this sauce a taste, the BBQ reference is pretty apropos. It’s unlike almost every other chipotle sauce we’ve tasted in that the chipotle notes are pretty subtle. So subtle are they that you can taste just a hint of the smokiness that are usually in many other sauces of its ilk. That, plus the heat is very mild…perhaps only 3/10 on the heat scale. The bottle lists that it’s ‘medium,’ but we’d really have to call it mild. That’s not a knock on this sauce, mind you, because someone has to put out some of the milder hot sauce on the market, and this one fits that mode pretty well. We found that it fared better on food than it was when mixed into foods, like you would with soups, chili, and other concoctions. It seemed to be a good sauce for meat, regardless whether it was steak, chicken, fish, or whatever. Also good as a dipping sauce to add some a hint of chipotle flavor to food such as fries, chicken nuggets, or even mixed into some other dips for your favorite veggies.
Overall recommendation: This sauce exists at the other end of the spectrum from the ultra-hot habanero sauces. It’s mild, fairly sweet, and not too heavy on the chipotle flavor. In fact, it does bear a resemblance to a chipotle BBQ sauce rather than hot sauce. That said, it’s about as accessible a hot sauce to the general public as you can imagine because of its taste profile and easily manageable heat. The fact that it is different is what makes this an appealing sauce, because it’s not a clone of so much of what’s on the market today. There’s enough sauces that taste like you’re sucking on chipotles in adobo sauce, and this one distinguishes itself from those. Still a little bit sweet for our taste, there were more than a few people who tasted this sauce at Joe’s workplace who raved about how much they liked it. Heat isn’t everything, and this sauce has taste quality in spades. With it, your mileage may vary. Enjoy!