Hot off the heels of last night’s barbecue sandwich review, I have an actual BBQ sauce to review tonight. But this time, the BBQ doesn’t just mean “barbecue.” Nope! This particular product is certified “BourbonQ,” made with genuine Kentucky Bourbon. Hence, the title: Pappy’s Moonshine Madness. With a name like that, this sounds more like a “sauce” you would find at a liquor store, but rest assured, this product intends to be every bit the barbecue sauce as anything else, though it also carries some incredibly bold claims, which I’ll discuss as we take a look at the product itself. Let’s just go ahead and get into it.
Tomato Sauce (water, tomato paste, salt), Sugar, Vinegar, Fresh Garlic, Fresh Onion, Chile Pepper, Paprika, Modified Food Starch, Natural Hickory Flavoring, Oil of Capsicum, Kentucky Bourbon (< 3% distilled by volume [the most the Feds will alow]), Worcestershire Sauce (distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, water, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, anchovies, natural flavorings), Black Pepper, Xanthan Gum, Spices, Lemon Powder (corn syrup, lemon juice with added lemon oil), Habanero Pepper, and Citric Acid
For the most part, this is a pretty standard barbecue sauce ingredients list, with the added benefit of some delicious bourbon. Initially, I was a little disappointed with the low placement of the habaneros, seeing as how this is supposed to be a spicy sauce. But a quick look at the rest of the list shows the vague “Chile Pepper” towards the top, as well as the intimidating Oil of Capsicum in there.
Pappy’s Moonshine Madness has a somewhat lighter shade of red to it than the average molasses-colored barbecue sauce. It is also a little bit thinner than most. Its most distinguishing feature, though, is the clear presence of pepper seeds in the bottle, something you don’t typically see in a standard barbecue sauce. Neat!
Smell and Taste:
There’s a really good smokey/sweet barbecue smell to this product. Honestly, the scent doesn’t actually give away either of the star ingredients (the bourbon and the peppers), which could potentially make this a very dangerous product. The flavor is pleasing. It still doesn’t really carry a very peppery flavor, but the overall blend really works.
Let’s look at some of the claims here. First, right in the middle of the label, is the notion that this sauce is “So hot, you’ll go blind!” Yikes. Second is a comment that this sauce may not be hot by chilehead standards, but “keep in mind these are the same folks that think battery acid is a culinary treat.” Zing! But no, seriously, this is insanely hot BBQ sauce. Honestly, I’m pretty sure it is one of the hottest sauces (not counting nasty extracts) I have ever had, barbecue or not. The label is right: this one is a Madness, for sure. Thankfully, with that heat comes a good flavor. It’s so easy to sacrifice one for the other, but Pappy’s Moonshine Madness manages to get that balance down. Now, it’s worth mentioning that it takes about two seconds for the heat to rush in and completely overpower the flavor, but before that happens, you get a couple moments of Nice, honest barbecue goodness.
This strikes me as a barbecue sauce that can go with just about any meat. You’ll want to be careful, though, because it pours very easily, and it would be a simple matter to overrun your food with this face-meltingly hot sauce. Give it a shot, but not a literal one. Heck, I bet even the Hot Sauce Boss would sweat bullets after a swig of this stuff.
We say this often, but be nice to your friends. This is a pretty deceptive sauce, but don’t use it to trick people who aren’t accustomed to eating spicy food. The bottom of the label even advises people who can’t handle the sauce to “leave it the hell alone.” That sounds like great advice. For the rest of you, though, there’s some great barbecue to be had with a bottle of Pappy’s Moonshine Madness.