Okay, so I read the words over and over - “Sultry and smooth, dark and alluring; one touch to your lips and you'll know what we mean. We've deepened the mystique of this seductively vibrant sauce with an infusion of whiskey, and from it, the depth of flavors that emerge dances between the dark notes of intrigue and hints of colorful whimsy. A single taste will do nothing to quell your desires. And like a distant lover emerging from the mist, you'll keep returning to her arms for one final kiss. Poignantly memorable.” - and thought the description fit the sauce perfectly. Okay, I confess that I lied. I didn't read it at all. I wrote it.
Yep, that's right, I wrote that description for Salamander Sauce's founder, Tim Kavarnos, at his request. And as a freelance writer and journalist I did so without compensation of any kind. Why? Well, two reasons.
One, Tim has become a friend of mine and I needed little prodding to help him out with constructing the sauce's description That's just what friends do. But even more importantly, the description I wrote has nothing at all to do with our friendship and everything to do with my second reason for writing it - I am a huge fan of his product. In fact, I regard his Original Hot Sauce and Tropical Hot Sauce as two of my favorite hot sauces ever. And as a food writer, a good product is something I can really get behind.
So let's get right to the point, I'm a food writer and although I take great pride in the fact that I've been told on numerous occasions that my chefly talents are more than ample, where I truly excel is knowing flavor. And although I don't pretend to be a hot sauce connoisseur by any means, I enjoy heat and I can recognize rock-solid flavor and that's what's important to me. It's also probably the reason I like Salamander Sauces as much as I do.
You see, I have never been one to merely pour hot sauce on a wing and say, "Yum, that's good." I like to cook with sauces and I like complexity of flavor.
The ingredients read - Tomato, Pepper, Jalapeño, Habanero, Carrot, Banana, Shallot, Celery, Whiskey, Vinegar, Lime, Raisin, Garlic, Salt, Molasses, Sugar, Ginger, and Seasonings - and with my sense of sight, scent or taste, I found each ingredient can be discerned to some degree. I especially enjoy the aroma of this newest offering from Salamander. I immediately detected the sweet aroma of tomatoes and molasses with wispy lime undertones. Truthfully, I tried to draw a whiskey scent from the bottle, but could not discern it singularly.
The color is quite similar to Salamander's Original Hot Sauce - a burnt orange with ever-present traces of habanero seed. The consistency is thick and rich, and pours more closely to a puree than it does a sauce.
A small taste was all that was needed to bring forth the essence of the sauce's habanero, lime and raisin elements. The full ingredient list was unveiled in the symphonic waves of a gentle burn that spreads across the tongue and lingers; not in an overpowering manner, but in a steadily building crescendo of hot flavor.
I expected this Whiskey Sauce to taste like whiskey, but it doesn't. Instead, the whiskey infusion works in harmony with each of the other ingredients and compliments the whole, which is the thing I love about Tim's sauces. Their depth of flavor is remarkable.
For me, this is a welcomed addition to the Salamander lineup that now rivals their Tropical Hot Sauce as my personal favorite.