John & Sue Hard, Godfather and Godmother of hot sauces, who also run CaJohn’s Fiery Foods, are celebrating a twenty year anniversary of their hot sauce company. The Hard family are heralded as pioneers in the hot sauce community and are much respected. To celebrate this 20 year milestone they have created a special hot sauce comprised of habanero, chipotle peppers and spices that were aged in a Jim Beam bourbon barrel for a year. This recipe is one of CaJohn’s favorites and the signature ingredients of bourbon, black cherries and vanilla have been doubled. This promises to be a very special sauce. Let’s take a look.
Brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, red habanero chiles, tomato paste, infused bourbon (bourbon whiskey, black cherries, vanilla beans), chipotle chiles, salt spices, natural applewood smoke flavoring are the listed ingredients.
Aroma & Texture:
This is a fluid sauce which pours easily from the bottle. This elixir is dark adobe red in color. No seeds or pulp are present. I open the top to smell fine smoky bourbon. There is a faint fresh smell of apple cider vinegar. (As a personal aside; Thankyou for not using an annoying flow restrictor. Flow restrictors are a Chilebrown pet peeve.)
Bourbon, cherries and smoke are my initial flavor hits. Tomatoes with habanero nuances join in this party. The last flavor component to join in the festivities is a subtle sweetness from the sugars and maybe the bourbon. This is an interesting sauce. It is not a scorching hot barn burner grab a carton of milk hot sauce. Heat is present but plays a supporting role in this celebration. I dig this sauce already. It has a lot of flavors going on here. Every time I take another taste I get another level of enjoyment.
Surprisingly this sauce is medium in the heat department. The habaneros and chipotle were used in restraint. This sauce is more about flavors. I would give it a click over the mild mark to two stars out of five.
I could not wait to try this and the only thing in the refrigerator was a homemade lemon cheesecake my wife Ms. Goofy had made. Why not? This may come as a shock but it worked. The rich cream cheese added a calming comforting effect to this complex elixir. The bourbon and cherry flavors with the hint of vanilla complemented while the smoky chipotle added a component which intrigued. You know I am a bonafide Chilehead when I have hot sauce with dessert. I think putting hot sauce on your dessert may be a little extreme for most people. This sauce would pair well with any grilled meat. Because this sauce is not scorching hot I believe it would be popular with any food and for any person that is not a seasoned Chilehead or hot sauce lover.
This was one special sauce. I have tasted, reviewed and enjoyed so many sauces over the years and this one will go down in the memory hot sauce scrap book as being very special. We would like to wish the CaJohn's Fiery Foods family another 20 years of success. I know this sauce will not last long but what a fun & tasty celebration. In conclusion I would like to paraphrase some words stated on the label; “I urge you to celebrate with us this passion that has become our legacy” Amen.