Think back, if you will, to late fall and early winter last year. Here at Eat More Heat, we were running our Scovember celebration, featuring products that had won honors in the Scovie Awards. Among the many products I received and reviewed during that time, I got a chance to talk about a couple of mango-based hot sauces. Devoted fans of this site will know that those aren’t the only mango-based products we’ve featured, either. In fact, the mighty mango seems to have become the go-to fruit for tropical-style sauces and salsas, as it combines a good amount of sweetness, pulpy texture, and distinct flavor. Today’s review, then, is another such mango hot sauce. Ladies, gentlemen, and John Scrovak, here is Smokin’ Mangoes Chipotle Style, by Maui Pepper Co. (one of Tahiti Joe’s product lines).
Vinegar, Mango, Apple Juice, Honey, Habanero, Chipotle Peppers, Sea Salt, Natural Spices, Natural Gum
For many people, the fact that vinegar occupies the primary slot in this list may raise a red flag of sorts. After all, we’re not kidding around here when we say that some so-called hot sauces are nothing more than spicy vinegar. That said, there are some things to be happy about in this list. Naturally, mangoes are right near the top, which should be an indication that this is not a mango-based sauce in name and technicality only. Let’s also not forget the presence of both habanero and chipotle peppers, the latter of which lends both its name and the promise of smoked flavor to this product.
Surprisingly for a product whose first ingredient is vinegar, Smokin’ Mangoes is a thick sauce. I’m willing to bet that that’s a result of both the mangoes and the honey. While I usually like vinegar-based sauces (buffalo sauce in particular), the fact that they are usually thin and runny is huge downside. This stuff, though, doesn’t suffer from that problem. In terms of color, it’s a dark rusty sauce, which is an appropriate and appetizing color for the flavor this product promises.
Smell and Taste:
Despite the fact that chipotle peppers are relatively far down the list, they easily overpower everything else in this bottle. The smoky smell of the roasted jalapenos is indeed mouth-watering, though I would not be able to tell you that it is a mango-based sauce by smell alone. I do get a bit of the habaneros in there, but otherwise the chipotles take precedence. That’s not the case, though, with the flavor. Though the mangoes are still not an overwhelming presence in the taste, they are present nonetheless, making themselves known but still deferring primarily to the pepper profiles.
I always like to see heat labels on bottles, because it can be amusing to see how hot manufacturers claim their products are. Some live up to their ratings, and some come nowhere close. A scant few are actually underrated. Considering that this bottle’s label puts Smokin’ Mangoes at the highest end of the thermometer (and even plasters the words “EXTRA HOT SAUCE” right on there), I would call it an exaggeration, but only slightly so. After all, these scales are meant for the average consumer, and hardly ever take into account the heat levels that would be necessary to hit our higher ratings (the highest of which is typically only achieved with the aid of extract). Still, I’m surprised by the bite this stuff has, not to mention how long the burn lingers, so it deserves the Mean rating. I’m also impressed with how well the smoky chipotles work with the sweet mangoes. The end result is a Notable flavor that isn’t too sweet at all, but is a delicious sum of its parts.
I’ve said this before, but sometimes fruit-based sauces can be a bit too fruity for their own good, to the point where the general population may not have too much use for them. However, Smokin’ Mangoes foregoes the overwhelmingly fruity flavor and focuses primarily on the smoky chipotle goodness, with the end result of a sauce that could go well on pretty much everything. While it doesn’t quite approach the “table sauce” level of versatility, it is hands-down my new favorite fruit-based sauce. Chicken, steak, burgers, tamales, mixed vegetables, and so many other dishes could benefit from a smoky flavor, and this product offers just enough mango flavor to enhance your food even further.
For those who love mango-based sauces, Tahiti Joe’s Maui Pepper Co. line has more than enough varieties to keep you satisfied. I mentioned above that Smokin’ Mangoes is now my favorite fruit-based sauce, but that could potentially be because I haven’t tried all the other ones. Of course, I wouldn’t object to the chance to try more! (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more)