I’m checking out the 87 Octane Pepper Sauce by High Octane Sauce Company today. This is the first in their lineup of hot sauces and salsas, and I’ll be reviewing their entire line over the next several weeks. There is a bit of a story as to how we found each other, and if you knew that they manufacture within 10 miles of my house, then you’d likely assume that I found them in some cozy heartfelt story way… like wandering through a local farmers market, which would be quite incorrect. Instead, finding them was based on a purely selfish endeavor on my part to beat Vic Clinco to the punch, utilizing new tech. You see, Vic is sort of a legend in the hot sauce community known for having what is estimated to be the largest private hot sauce collection in the world, and last I checked, it isn’t all that far from the 5,000 bottle mark. Now, it seems that every time I find a new small product manufacturer on Facebook, Vic always has me beat to the punch and has already liked their page, sometime being one of only four on said page. So, I set out on an assassin’s mission to find manufacturers before Vic could. It took me a while, but I cooked up a bit of technology that would scour Facebook on my behalf, and I began using that to see if it was possible to find a page before Vic. What happened here was overkill, and I found dozens upon dozens of new manufacturers that Vic had never interacted with on Facebook, in fact many that it seems no one else in the hot sauce community knew existed. One of these was High Octane. Being a big motorsport fan, I quickly found the amusement in their motif of using gearhead references in naming sauces and their use of various high-speed vehicles on labeling, and from there on decided I would contact them so we could lock down first dibs on reviewing their products, and here we are.
The list is short and sweet. We have Assorted chile peppers, spices, water and vinegar in the mix, and I’ve been told by the manufacturer that this is similar to a Louisiana style of sauce, but seeing vinegar at the end of the list makes me feel good about this not being overladen with vinegar flavor.
The first thing I notice with the aroma is that it smells oddly familiar, and it took about 4 or 5 sniffs and a second opinion on aroma, but I think I’ve pinned it down. This stuff has an aroma very similar to sloppy joe mix. The texture is the usual smooth pour for its style, but noticeably, the orifice reducer has been removed, so it looks like the guys at High Octane like to run their bottles with the governor off.
In the naming scheme for this manufacturer, the 87 Octane represents regular grade gasoline, with their higher ‘octane’ numbered sauces using hotter peppers, so I’m not expecting a ton of heat right off the line with this one. What you do get are hints of black/white pepper bite that strike you first and then the chiles double up the heat right after. The eventual heat level is on the strong end of Mild, but may stray in to the Medium range if used liberally, so it’s palatable for mainstream folks who want to use this as a table sauce. There isn’t a lot of variation in the heat and flavor past the first blast of flavor and spice, after all, Louisiana styles aren’t known for being more than an avenue for bringing spicy to the table. This however, is really flavored well to cover up any hint of vinegar being in it, has nearly little taste of salt to throw off what you’re putting it on and the burn is almost all on the front of the tongue. The flavor of the chiles isn’t anything similar to the standard Louisiana one’s I’ve ever had, and I’m quite interested to use this in the future on the table. It’s not a sauce I’m going to laud over, but it’s definitely one of the top five Louisiana style sauces I’ve had, so in the respect of the style, I’m scoring it as a Nice, and will likely stay on the table for general use. Now I know I mentioned sloppy joe mix earlier, and I’ll say the flavor of this is not in the sauce, but with the aroma so similar, I’m thinking I’m going to use this to spice up some run-of-the-mill sloppy joe mix to see if this perhaps might make the ultimate spicy sloppy joe out there.