Bell River Brand – Chipotle Hot Sauce
Second in my series of checking out Bell River Sauces is their next hotter item, the Chipotle Hot Sauce. For those just being introduced to Bell River, it is a sub brand of Heartbreaking Dawns aimed towards creating something that still tastes special, but carrying a lower price point, so that it can be used more as a daily table sauce. You can see in the packing that even though Heartbreaking Dawns has worked to make this look more a bit more classic in design so that it fits in the more conservative pantry, Johnny is still sneaking in some cues from the tattoo art styles he likes so well, with a skeletal bride shrieking in either anger or pain centered in the bottle. She sort of reminds me a bit of the skeletons from Walt Disney’s The Skeleton Dance, but with roses embedded in her eyes and a veil.
A quick review of the ingredients leaves you wondering why this was named as a Chipotle sauce, with two varieties of Habanero chile peppers leading the pack, and the Chipotle coming in just short of last place in the listing of ingredients, behind all of the other classic American aromatic spices. Seeing that I enjoy the flavoring of smoked chiles, I’m hoping the Chipotle doesn’t just get left to play a naming role for the sake of marketing. Here’s the full list of ingredients: Water, Red Habanero Pepper, Orange Habanero, Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Onion, Black Pepper, Garlic, Chipotle Peppers, Xantham Gum, and Chives.
Coloration is that of dark red brick, with a bit of orange to it and a variety of orange, dark green, red and black particles within, evenly separated. The overall texture is thin, but it appears that there are a multitude of spices suspended throughout, and those spices and some of the chile puree clings for a bit to the neck when you shake it, so this will likely have some cling to it if used for mopping or basting. There is noticeable aromas from the habanero chiles, onions, black pepper and a smoky vinegar background.
There is a quick punch of smoky habanero heat, and definitely flavor from the chinense family of chiles and then an additional bite of garlic laced black pepper. Within a few moments, the heat from the habanero starts to dwindle, and the smoky flavor of the chipotle steps forward, but the overall chile flavor remains more habanero based, and the flavor of the black pepper stays out there for a fairly long term. This sauce starts mellow out once your palate gets used to it, but the punch at the beginning is pretty noticeable, so I’ll give this a Medium on heat. Even though this isn’t as strong on the chipotle flavor as I would have hoped, my flavor rating on this would be a strong Nominal. The balance of the chiles gives it enough heat to be noticeable via the habaneros and then a nice smoky flavor from the chipotles and a strong black pepper flavor throughout. There is sort of this feeling like the flavor is right, but the sauce is a bit watered down in the flavor aspect, not the texture, so I’m wondering if perhaps there was a more concentrated version of this that it may even venture in to the Nice territory. My thoughts are that I may take this and put it in a small sauce pan on low heat to simmer out a bit of the water in it to concentrate the flavors and to improve the cling factor of the sauce, and then cut the reduction with just a touch of unsalted butter to use for brushing on some fish filets, pork, asparagus or summer squash right as they come off the grill.