“Oh my god…”
– Me after having just a tiny taste of this sauce
Hello and welcome back everyone. It’s time for another hot sauce review. Once more, we’re checking out a sauce by Marie Sharp’s of Belize. The first sauce of hers that I had very well could be my new favorite general pepper sauce. The second sauce that I had of hers is my new-favorite garlic pepper sauce. This time around, we’re getting smokey. When I had the Garlic Pepper sauce, the other sauce that I almost tried that day was this one, her Smoked Habanero sauce.
Now, I like smokey flavors. I love BBQ sauce. I love even just driving past BBQ restaurants and smelling the wood smoke. And, I mean, I’m definitely not the only one. And, thankfully, here in Atlanta, there’s a lot of options. I, myself, used to have a smoker back when I lived in Kansas. I used it a ton and, I feel, got very good at working it. Those were also some of my favorite years of my life. That’s not 100% pertinent to the review, but put a pin in that. So, anyway, this is not our first “smokey” hot sauce. Hell, one of the first sauces I tried was listed as a Smokey Tamarind Sauce. And then, one of the most recent sauces I had was a Sweet Tamarind & Smoky Chile Sauce. This is fertile ground for me, and I am excited to give this sauce a go (small note: this sauce doesn’t have tamarind. Just wanted to make sure you knew).
Ok, so, I knew I was in for a treat even before I opened the bottle. Simply removing the plastic tamper-proof wrap around the bottle, I could start to smell the smoke from this sauce. That’s amazing. I can’t think of any sauce I’ve had yet that I could smell anything from it even with the bottle still closed. But I could hold this one up to my nose and already smell the smoke inside. And, obviously, when I opened the bottle, that scent came flying out of there. It quickly filled up the kitchen.
That was intensified to the entire apartment as I poured the sauce over the wings and the sauce began to warm up. The sauce is fairly thin. There’s a very mild texture to it. I’ve said before that a Marie Sharp’s sauce was like rather runny applesauce. This is even just a bit moreso. And that’s certainly fine. It poured easily out of the bottle and spread nicely over the wings.
Then, as I tilted the bottle back up after pouring, some sauce got on the bottle’s threads (as always happens. That’s nothing new). I used my finger, gathered it up, and tried it.
And boom. … … …
Just, ok, you know when you have a taste of something sooooooo good that your entire world just stops for a moment and you’re transported to another place and time in your life? There’s a scene in Ratatouille where this happens to the critic when he tastes a dish. I’m here to tell you that that phenomenon is real. And it happened to me.
I was taken back to Kansas. It was a warm, summer day. I had finished smoking a pork shoulder, having spent all day on it. I had just brought it in and was carving it up. I took a bit of the charred end (the best part) and had a bite.
And then I found myself back in my apartment. The words, “oh my god” fell from my lips. I blinked. I looked at the wings. I looked at the bottle. I looked around. The whole event took place in less than a second, but it was an eternity.
And, ok, I get it. You’re probably sitting there, reading this and going, “Wow, dramatic much? There’s no way that actually happened.” Well, that’s fine, you cynic. But I’m not here to lie to you. I’m here to tell you what happened. I’m a reporter and I’m reporting the situation as it happened to me. This sauce was the flavors of a part of my life put into a bottle and sent to me, now poured onto some hot wings. Do I expect you to fully understand? No, because you weren’t there. And that’s fine. Do I feel this sauce holds up if you didn’t have my exact life? Yes, and I’ll tell you why.
Generally speaking, when you get something that’s “smokey-tasting” like a BBQ sauce or the other hot sauces I’ve had or like smoked paprika, it’s… kinda smokey. Like, if you stop and think hard about it, maybe you can get some hints of smoke on the back-end.
That is not the case here. In this sauce, the smoke is the primary ingredient. It even says so on the bottle. The first ingredient is “Smoked Habanero Pepper.” And, by god, you Get the Smoke you Paid For! If you’ve ever been to a good BBQ place, I mean a really good one, an authentic one, one where you know they’re cutting no corners and letting that meat go in that smoke for as long as possible, then you know how good smoke flavor can be. This sauce is packed full of that flavor. It’s literally bursting out from the bottle, since as I mentioned, you can smell it with the cap still on. It’s big, bold, but not overpowering. Coating the wing’s top side was all I needed. More could have possibly been too much, but “can one have too much of this sauce” is a debate I’ve yet to fully complete with myself.
The rest of the ingredients line up and do their job as one would expect. There’s carrots next, a Marie Sharp’s staple, which I’ve grown to love. Then vinegar, which doesn’t have any room to give a sour/bitter vinegar bite. You could be excused for probably not even really noticing it in there. Then it finishes out with onion, salt, lime juice, and garlic. All are background notes that enhance the rest of the flavors.
I guess I should mention the heat level. It’s got a little bit of a kick to it. It’s not super-hot, but it’s definitely not mild, either. I’d put it at just a little above your average grocery store sauce. By the end of the 10 wings, the cumulative effect definitely had me going, “Oooh, this gettin’ hot!” and my nose was definitely running. However, I wouldn’t say that it’d blow anyone’s taste buds away. If you’re not-heat-tolerant, this might be at the edge of your envelope, but I feel the general heat level does put it in the realm of “the vast majority of people can handle this.”
Guys, if you haven’t been able to tell, I love this sauce. I love this sauce more than I thought I could love a hot sauce. Now am I being overly dramatic? Probably, but also, seriously, this sauce is amazing on multiple levels. You could use this sauce to turn just about anything into BBQ. Funnily enough, I might not suggest putting it on actual BBQ, as there you might run the risk of getting too much smoke flavor. But anything else? Have at it. This is a bottle that will be used very quickly in my fridge.
Suggested dishes: burgers, pork chops, tossed with grilled vegetables, mixed in with ketchup for an amazing dipping sauce for fries. Use this to up the smoke content of your regular BBQ sauce when mixed together.
At this point, I’m usually pretty “well, if you want to try this sauce” in my review. This time, I’m going to be a bit more direct: if you’re a BBQ lover, you want to buy this sauce. You want to try this sauce. You want to put it on your food.
For those out of the US, you can find Marie Sharp’s distributors here: https://www.mariesharps.bz/distributors/
If you’re in the US, you can find this sauce on the Marie Sharp’s US site here: https://mariesharpsusa.com/collections/marie-sharps-pepper-sauces/products/fruitwood-smoked-habanero