Review: Habanero Punch Hot Sauce
A mustard yellow label with a rather ring-worn looking habanero in boxing gloves greets you from the bottle of Habanero Punch. Creative, though a little unsettling. The sauce itself has a very sweet, vinegary aroma and a strangely thin-but sticky consistency. There’s also a pretty decent smokey [tag]habanero[/tag] aroma that comes through.
Ingredients: White distilled vinegar, garlic, corn syrup, honey, roasted habanero peppers, kosher salt, liquid smoke, xantham gum, red and yellow food coloring.
I’m disappointed to see food coloring used – I much prefer products that walk the less processed route. And the corn syrup instead of additional honey is a letdown, but at least it’s not HFCS.
On First Taste
The sweetness comes through strong, though it is definitely a corn syrup sweetness with a touch of honey in the background. The vinegar is pronounced. Smoke and habanero hits next, leaving a mild burn that passes quickly.
I had house guests, and whipped up a nice breakfast of French style omelets with mushroom, onion, poblano peppers, tomato and emmental cheese. Oven baked bacon and toast made up the sides. Habanero Punch [tag]hot sauce[/tag] was served as the topping of choice.
The sauce was passable, but not spectacular with breakfast food. The overt candy sweetness was at odds with the eggs. It wasn’t bad, but not ideal, either – a bit surprising to me because I generally like sweet sauces on breakfast foods, and I particularly like the taste of honey.
I really think that the over the top, artificial tasting sweetness was just too much for my taste. The honey, garlic, smoke and habanero peppers are a great combination, but the corn syrup throws the entire flavor profile out of whack. It’s kind of like tossing a tablespoon of sugar on top of your hot sauce and eggs, and that’s just not right, especially when honey is one of the primary ingredients and should provide the perfect amount of sweetness by itself.
My friend who was staying liked the sauce pretty well, though he also though it was a bit too sweet and didn’t have the heat he was looking for. The label touts this sauce as having “a sweet punch”, so it does give a fair warning of it’s intent. But it’s also rated on a pictured scale between medium and hot, which is definitely an overstatement.
Habanero Punch would be much better used as a grilling sauce, on something that goes well with heavy sweetness. It’d be great on chicken, pork, and especially duck. Plus, cooking it over flame would do a great job of caramelizing the sugar content, highlighting the smokiness of the roasted peppers while teasing out the honey flavor.
Habanero Punch offers a lot of promise, if used in the right spots. It’s a grilling sauce all the way, and would excel in that role. If used cold, just keep it off anything you wouldn’t want the sweetness of Log Cabin syrup on.
Packaging – The boxing pepper scares me. 6.5 out of 10.0
Aroma – Excessively sweet, good smoke. 7.1 out of 10.0
Appearance – Thin and sticky looking. Points off for artificial coloring. 4.9 out of 10.0
Taste – Very sweet, lots of smoke. 7.1 out of 10.0
Heat – Mild but detectable burn. 3.5 out of 10.0
Overall Rating: 6.7 out of 10.0