I may have expressed this sentiment before, but one of my favorite things about writing about the spicy food industry is the chance to see (and devour) the myriad different takes on hot sauce from companies near and far. Hot sauce, as well all know, is not a singular entity, nor does it exist simply in varying degrees of punishing heat. Au contraire. Here at this site, we have the pleasure (usually) of trying products of all sorts of flavors, often featuring interesting and unexpected ingredients. Some companies have literally dozens of sauces in their lineups, each one boasting a totally unique combination of flavor and heat. Sometimes, though, it’s great to find a company that picks one thing and does it really well. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve written a proper hot sauce review, so what better way to return to form than to discuss an item that focuses on the rudiments of good hot sauce? Enter: Tabañero, a delightfully simple product from Mexico.
Select Habanero and Tabasco Mexican Peppers, Fresh Carrots, Onions, Key Lime Juice, Agave, Garlic, Salt, and Grapefruit Seed Extract
There’s nothing incredibly surprising in this list of ingredients. I don’t often see the grapefruit seed extract, but it’s also not something that the average consumer is going to be able to pick out of the overall flavor. What works well here, though, is that the majority of the ingredients are fresh, and they work together to make that delicious Mexican Picante flavor profile so many of us know and love.
This is definitely an orange sauce. Between the habanero peppers and the fresh carrots, Tabañero winds up with a nigh-radioactive color, which is frankly something I love to see in a sauce. It’s also quite pulpy, so there’s no real danger of this product being runny and spilling all over the place. Thankfully, it isn’t too viscous for the bottle’s small mouth, so we’ll call that a happy medium.
Smell and Taste:
I’ve gone on record multiple times as saying that I don’t mind the smell of a vinegar-based sauce. Still, I will happily say that a vinegar-free sauce like Tabañero smells far better than most of the other guys. The peppers, onions, and garlic make up most of the bouquet (and that’s the last little bit of faux snobbery you’ll get from me), but the carrots do lend Tabañero a nice fresh scent. Imagine a freshly-made salsa without the tomatoes, and that’s basically what Tabañero smells like.
One taste of Tabañero doesn’t deliver too much of a spicy punch. However, it is delicious enough that one taste isn’t enough, and pretty soon the heat registers. Though it never reaches true spiciness by any definition, it is very much a comfortable Medium. And while this sauce doesn’t really try to shake-up the industry with an innovative new flavor profile, it does nail that Picante flavor quite solidly, so I will gladly give it a Nice.
Though many of our readers are long-time chileheads who can hang out on the upper end of the Scoville scale with ease, I know we have a lot of viewers who are still getting accustomed to higher levels of spiciness. If you fall into the latter group, Tabañero is the sauce for you. Not only does it go great with tacos, burritos, sandwiches, or even just a bag of chips, but it also represents what’s so great about the best of the industry: natural ingredients, great flavor, and tantalizing heat.