Posted January 7, 2008 by Brendan in Reviews

Review: Jackson’s Hot Southwest Style Verde Pepper Sauce

Jackson's HOT Verde Hot Sauce

First Impression: Ah, nature’s bounty! Look at those infinite rows of luscious pepper plants, stretching clear to the snowcapped Rocky Mountains! One of the most picturesque, pastoral, plentiful scenes I have seen on a hot sauce bottle. Haven’t reviewed a green sauce yet, I’m excited. “Penrod Pepper Products has taken green sauce to a whole new level!” Oh my! I am more suspicious than impressed by the cactus heat-level indicator on the side, with an arrow pointed triumphantly at the very top of the spiny plant. I’m excited by the ingredients though, especially the cilantro.

Ingredients: Tomatillos, Jalapenos, Seranno peppers, Lime juice, Onion, Garlic, Cilantro, Vinegar, Salt, Herbs and Spices.

Smell: Hmm”¦not crazy about the nose on this one. It smells burnt almost, like imagine you were making pasta sauce and the heat was too high and some of it burned on to the bottom and clearly you didn’t scrape it off but you did salvage the rest of the sauce and it smelled a bit singed and you also never learned about run-on sentences. It also smells sweet and garlic-heavy.

Jackson's HOT Verde Hot Sauce

Appearance: A healthy looking dark green, Jackson’s is grainy and travels as a unit during the famous plate-tilt test. There are occasional seeds and medium sized black flakes floating around.

Taste: Sweet, tangy”¦I don’t know if it’s so much burnt, but I’m still getting this weird off-smoky flavor that I’m just unsure about. I don’t know what’s creating it or if it’s all in my head. I’m not entirely sure what a tomatillo is, so maybe that’s just how they taste. I’m reminded of eggplants for some reason”¦hey, same family at least, Solanaceae. Thank you, Wiki. Someone suggested the garlic may be roasted, which could give it a more carbon-infused flavor. The garlic gets a shout out; it’s quite pronounced, doing its garlic thing. Cilantro is one ingredient that I feel is hugely underrepresented in this guy. Some people aren’t crazy about cilantro, but I think when it’s utilized properly it can really steal the show. In my experience, cilantro can bring an average salsa to a powerhouse of vibrant flavor and freshness. In this sauce I really didn’t taste the cilantro that I know and love. The taste is not bad, it’s certainly unique, but I’m reluctant to say the flavor would have mass appeal.

Jackson's HOT Verde Hot Sauce

Heat: The claims about the heat of this sauce are some of the most egregious I’ve encountered to date. “HOT” in caps, the arrow at the top of the cactus, “green sauce to a whole new level” (if they meant heat), it’s all malarkey. I would be happy to drink an entire bottle of it and post the video to prove my point, if someone wants to send me another bottle. And this is not just old high heat threshold Brendan talking here, I’ve consulted family, friends, a lot of people about this. There is some heat, a quite dull blanket on the middle of the tongue and roof of the mouth, but c’mon, the intensity is closer to the roots than the canopy of that cactus. And to be fair, it’s not just Jackson’s, I think this is an industry-wide problem. I’m sure the argument goes that this “HOT” is an accurate and acceptable hot for the infrequent, indifferent heat-eater; but then one has to consider, how many infrequent, indifferent heat-eaters are purchasing specialty hot sauces? It’s not that you have to love insane heat to be into hot sauce, clearly, but you would certainly want a sauce to advertise its heat level properly. I’m willing to give some leeway for subjective tastes, among connoisseurs as much as anyone, but I’ve seen too many outrageous claims on bottles like this. I just wish there was a better way to do it.

Jackson's HOT Verde Hot Sauce

Overall: I don’t know about this one, and honestly I’m still a little worked up about the heat thing. I put a bunch of it on a seafood pasta dish that I concocted, and it actually did give it a well-desired zesty lift. Jackson’s did seem a bit hotter when it was incorporated this way, but nothing to write home about (I always write my parents when I discover a really hot sauce). The garlic flavor held up well in the pasta, and the strong seafood aroma masked whatever the burny/eggplant/unknown flavor was. The taste is different, and if you are someone who likes to experience uncommon flavors in your hot sauce, then you may appreciate it. The bottle emphatically touts Jackson’s “Southwestern Flair,” so I think it deserves a chance on Southwestern food.

Contact Info:
Penrod Pepper Products, LLC
Brewed and bottled in Mesa, Arizona