As much as I had to do in research for the Polynesian sauce earlier, the Tahiti Joe’s Smokin’ Kona XX Hot Sauce seems like it would be so much easier. Everyone knows the word Kona so much more than Polynesian for some reason. It almost seems like the word Kona was introduced to the rest of America as some cross-pollination of the Hawaiian beach, fitness and coffee crowd. Generally it’s associated with the Ironman Championships, hard riding Kona bicycles, the slow rolling surf popularly tested by the tourist getting his ears wet learning to surf for the first time, a few generous pints of Longboard Lager, and possibly most of all for a highly prized grind of coffee that grows uniquely on the west end of the big island. None of this, however, gives us any clues at all as to what to expect from this sauce. The Smokin’ part was easy. I knew within a half a second of reading that word that this had to have chipotles in it, but the question here is, how much island influence will pit itself against the chipotles to make a decidedly different sauce? Who knows. Let’s find out.
We get a similar assortment of ingredients from the previous review here, but the order is flipped up a bit, the jalapenos this time around are in their smoked/dried form, we see an addition of citrus and loose the tomato bits. Sadly, I won’t be seeing any cheese in the bottle this go around either. Here’s the full list: Aged Red Peppers, Fresh Carrots, Habanero Peppers, Chipotle Peppers, Red Wine Vinegar, Key Lime Juice, Worcestershire, Tomato Juice, Honey, Clam Juice, Fresh Onions, Fresh Garlic in Water, Spices, Natural gum
This sauce is a deep Brick Red, comes out with a smooth easy pour, but is a bit thicker than the Polynesian sauce, with a decent cling on the neck of the bottle. We come across that tangy, salty and tart base aroma, but it has a noted earthy chipotle scent to it. That steak sauce reference from earlier comes more to mind now, with more beefy inclinations. The vinegar portion of the aroma seems a bit more subdued as well. Possibly the addition of the citrus caused for less vinegar to need to be used.
This sauce starts off as a mellow, savory and smoky sauce and then the heat from the chili peppers starts to roll in slowly along with all the tangy and tart aspects. While the chili pepper heat starts to grow, you begin to get all of the herbs and spices as well. This sauce, for me, has chicken and pork written all over it, and with a touch of some coconut milk and clam juice, it then converts over to something completely different for scallops and shrimp. It comes across as something that gives that earthy bolder flavors to lighter meats. It’s probably on the high end of a Mild rating, and I think the flavor is quite Nice. Use it liberally on the grill and you should be happy with it.