Tabasco Sweet Chipotle and Cola Sauce & Marinade

Tabasco have got to be one of the biggest hot sauce brands out there right?  I’ve always been surprised by how little they’ve expanded their product range, so I was not surprised to see this Tabasco Sweet Chipotle and Cola Sauce & Marinade in my local Sainsbury’s.

Say the words Tabasco, Chipotle, and Cola in the same sentence to me and I’ll always get very excited, until now.  Yep I’m not impressed with this effort from Tabasco and it’s been hanging out in my cupboard for months now, I keep trying with it different foods either as a sauce or marinade but I just can’t get on with it.

The sauce is very thick and comes out of the bottle quite clumpy, great for a marinade but not great for a table sauce.  The taste is very sweet with a tame cola-ish flavour, which then gets backed up by a slightly smoky heat which is actually quite pokey if you eat enough of it.  Strangely the heat doesn’t hang around when applied to food which is then later cooked (ribs, chicken thighs etc), which is disappointing.

Overall this sauce is overly sweet, quite bland, and doesn’t have any depth.  It could do with some more acidity and perhaps more seasoning.  When you look at the long ingredients list (see image below), it’s not surprising that this sauce just tastes a bit generic and sugary.  It’s such a shame since Tabasco’s core product has only THREE ingredients, all natural, which is a world away from Tabasco Sweet Chipotle and Cola Sauce & Marinade.

Not impressed Tabasco, you need to try much harder than this.

Rating: 1.5/5

Encona Brazilian BBQ Sauce

A short review today since I doubt you’ll able to buy this sauce anymore because Encona released this limited edition to coincide with the World Cup 2014 in Brazil (England fans have already forgotten this ever happened).

This is a very brave sauce to call BBQ in my opinion, and I must applaud Encona for doing so since it’s really something quite different to other barbecue sauces.

The colour is a rich mahogany, consistency is oily and smooth, but not sticky and gloopy like a lot of US style barbecue sauces. Encona Brazilian BBQ Sauce has a nice sweet smokey taste which is livened up by a strong woody herb flavour, think thyme or marjoram.  A slight hint of citrus brings the smoke and herbs together.

There isn’t really much heat to it, but it’s got a pleasant warmth. This sauce isn’t mind-blowing by any means, especially when tried by itself alone, but add this to a burger or any kind of grilled meat or vegetables and this sauce really offers something very tasty and unique, which is more than can be send for a lot of barbecue sauces out there.

Rating: 3/5

Sainsbury’s Hot Pepper Sauce

I like to keep an eye on what supermarkets are doing with their own brand sauces, and it’s great when you come across an attempt that is actually quite good.  Well Sainsbury’s, this one is a blinder.

Sainsbury’s Hot Pepper Sauce is very much in the style of a Caribbean Scotch Bonnet sauce such as Windward West Indian sauce, or the Encona Hot Pepper sauce.  The sauce has a great colour and large visible pieces of Habanero within it, and has a loose and chunky consistency.

The flavour is fresh and fruity (what you’d expect from a Habanero sauce), and has short punchy heat followed by a longer burn which is actually quite devastating if you have a lot of it, we’re talking tears over a tablespoon.

A really good own-brand sauce.  Although it’s a great sauce for the price (£1.25), I personally wouldn’t buy it again since there are better examples of this style of sauce out there, however it’s worth a punt if your Sainsbury’s stocks it.

Rating: 3.5/5


After a few more tastes and chats with friends, I think I would perhaps buy this again over brands like Encona or Windward (which share shelf space) .  This sauce by Sainsbury’s has an very special individuality; for an own-brand sauce I can do nothing but tip one’s cap.

Cholula Chilli Garlic

I’m a big fan of the original variety of Cholula, it’s the perfect beginners hot sauce since it has a heat which almost anyone can manage, but packs in such a good taste.  I usually have a bottle floating around somewhere since it’s so versitile thanks to the big fresh flavour and splash on consistency.

This Cholula Chilli Garlic variety is not as good as the original though, let’s say that now.  The reason Cholula original such a popular and bestselling sauce is because the exceptional balance of chilli peppers and vinegar.  This Chilli Garlic variety pushes a much stronger garlic flavour but for me it’s not particularly tasty; it’s more like a dried garlic than fresh garlic flavour.  It’s also worth noting that this has no more heat than the original.

Nonetheless, Cholula Chilli Garlic is a good sauce and worth trying if you particularly like garlic, but personally I’ll stick with the original and Chipotle varieties.

Rating: 3/5

Panola Cajun Hot Sauce Salsa Picante

I got this Panola sauce as part of a gift pack which came with a total of four sauces, and was surprisingly quite cheap for imported sauces (£4.99).  Panola Cajun Hot Sauce Salsa Picante seems to be the ‘Original’ variety in the gift pack so I thought I would review it first.

The sauce comes in a 177ml plastic bottle, and has a liquid/splash consistency to it.  The colour of the sauce is blood red, and imparts strong colouring on most foods you add it to, however the sauce is 100% natural.  Just four ingredients make up this sauce, the key being the ‘Aged Pepper Mash’ which is used in sauces such Frank’s Red Hot and Tabasco.  Combine the pepper mash with vinegar and you have a straightforward Louisiana Hot Sauce.

The sauce has great depth of flavour from the aged peppers, with a rich backbone and a floral finish.  I’m a big fan of vinegar sauces, but this has a slight unpleasant acidity to it which I can’t put my finger on.  On foods the flavour tends to get a little lost, so I’d perhaps keep this sauce for adding to blander items such as nachos and eggs.

Not bad, I’d imagine this sauce sits on a lot of Louisiana cafe/diner tables, but it’s not one I’d bother with having at home.

Rating: 2/5

Crazy Bastard Sauce – Tomatillo & Habanero

I was lucky enough to be sent this sauce by Jonathan O Reilly who lives in Berlin, Germany.

Crazy Bastard Sauce is a small-batch (15 litre) chilli sauce produced in a professional kitchen in Germany, and the website indicates that each batch may vary slightly in terms of colour and heat.  The recipe for Crazy Bastard Sauce has taken three years to perfect, and I can really see why.

On first taste the sauce is naturally sweet, with a rush of heat that catches your tongue after a few seconds.  Then, a strong hit of garlic follows, mellowed by a sweet tomato, and then complimented with fruity, citrusy Haberano flavours.  The sauce lets off a series of bass notes with the tomato and garlic, and the Haberano and vinegar sprinkle the tongue with high notes. Although this sauce has a simple ingredient list, it’s perhaps has the most deep and refined flavour profile I’ve ever had from a sauce using these ingredients.  Simple, but memorable.     Classy, not in-your-face.

The heat is fairly immediate, punchy, but not raw.  It’s a pleasurable heat which compliments the flavours of the sauce perfectly.  However, it you have the sauce in large amounts then it really does show it’s strength, this really is quite a hot and powerful sauce and I prefer it smaller amounts.

So far I’ve tried Crazy Bastard Sauce in a sausage sandwich, on cold roast beef, and alongside some pork chops – all fantastic.  I’ve also found myself putting blobs of the sauce on my finger while working at my desk, it’s really quite addictive, and I think the delicious flavour and balanced heat is the cause of that.

Crazy Bastard Sauce is clearly of handcrafted, artisan values, beginning at the packaging and following all the way through to the final taste.  The sauce comes in 100ml glass bottle with a nice sliver cap, kinda like an old medicine bottle.  The labels are brightly illustrated with iconic and fun graphics, and the typeface used is lovely.  The sauce has clearly been well thought out from top-to-bottom, and I’d say the hard work has been worth it since we have a standout sauce here.

Currently my favourite sauce of 2014 so far.

Rating: 5/5