Posted February 4, 2008 by SteveM in Reviews

Review: Key West Key Lime Hot Sauce

Add another “staple” hot sauce to the table. Now, I don’t say that lightly, but”¦for those chileheads looking for something new and exciting, I’m tempted to tell you to skip this review. However”¦if you are looking for another excellent hot sauce that has a lot of “typical” hot sauce traits, stick around, because Key West Key Lime Hot Sauce is a star performer!

Key West Keylime Hot Sauce

For starters, if you are attracted to an eye-appealing label, you will want this sauce on your table. That said, the tropical Key West scene on the label leads you a bit astray on what you might expect to taste.

Ingredients: Serrano Chiles, Apple Cider Vinegar, Ancho Chiles, New Mex Chiles, Key Lime Juice, Lime Zest, Roasted Garlic, Cumin

Appearance: I shake the bottle and take a peek through the glass. There’s a lot of action in there. The sauce looks on the thin side, but it also has a gritty appearance, with tiny seeds and lots of little bits and pieces ranging in color from tan to bright red. The base sauce itself is a nice brick-red color, which, of course, is a stereotypical hot sauce color. 8.5/10

Key West Keylime Hot Sauce

Consistency: Poured out on a plate, the sauce spreads almost like a salsa and readily separates at the edges. It would find every nook and cranny of whatever you poured it on. 8/10

Smell: Taking my first whiff off the top of the bottle, my mind quickly heads due West from the Florida Keys. Instead of a Caribbean ““ style smell that the label (and location) would suggest, I get a distinctly Tex-Mex smell. There is a hint of smoke and it smells a little “tomatoey”. As promised in a previous post, I have started to avoid reading the label until after I taste the sauce. So I learn later that the combo of chiles and the presence of Cumin are responsible for the Mex qualities of this sauce. It also has no tomatoes, but it still smells that way. Again, don’t get the impression I don’t like this sauce. The smell is very inviting, a 9/10, and I can’t wait to taste it!

Taste: I take a pull directly from the bottle. The taste is true to the smell ““ Tex-Mex. The first thing I taste is”¦well…Tomato! I wonder why? There’s none in there. There is a little sourness, but not enough for it to be identified as lime juice. But it is there in just the right proportion to give this sauce a characteristically piquante taste. It also has a nice garlic aftertaste. What I don’t taste is salt. I’m all for using restraint in salting sauces, but this one has a noticeable lack of salt, which I think would enhance the flavors even more, if used moderately.

The grit is there, and I like it. It has a great mouthfeel. It also has a slight smoky flavor when eaten alone, but here’s another mystifying thing about this sauce. When you use it on smoky foods, it makes them taste smokier!

Key West Keylime Hot Sauce

I plopped a bunch of Key West Key Lime Hot Sauce on a plate of leftover Jambalaya. The smokiness of the ham and Andouille sausage really jumped out at me when eaten with the sauce. I sense this would also be great in (or on top of) chili, chili dogs, and most Mexican dishes. Taken at face value, it rates an 8.5/10. It simply tastes “hot-saucy”.

Heat: Serranos (the predominant chile in this sauce) tend to get me in the back of the throat, but this did not. The combo of chiles in this bottle seem to keep the burn mid-mouth. The heat doesn’t really build ““ it is what it is, and it stays consistent throughout your meal. Give it a 4.5-5 on the HSB heat scale of 10. Taken in sufficient quantity, it will produce a runny nose and face sweats, which arrive simultaneously.

Overall: This sauce imparts a nice tang to anything. It would be a great “starter sauce” for someone looking to break into a medium heat sauce. But, for heat seekers, it might also lend itself nicely to layering with some deathly Habanero sauce. Just remember the salt shaker. Overall, 8.5/10.

Manufactured By: Hot Shots Hot Sauce
Available for purchase: From or any other number of online hot sauce retailers