Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Review: Old Canal Sweet & Spicy

Sweet & Spicy

Manufacturer Old Canal Smokehouse
Website www.

Quality ** (2 out of 5)
Viscosity *** (3 out of 5) This is a measure of thickness, not quality
Aroma ** (2.5 out of 5)

Appearance *** (3 out of 5)

Packaging ** (2.5 out of 5)

Did you ever see someone that is so non-descript that they fade into invisibility? Five minutes after meeting them you couldn’t describe them? That’s this sauce in a nutshell. There is nothing seriously wrong with the sauce, but there is certainly nothing right with it either.

Let’s take a break from our standard review format, shall we?

The Good:

The sauce comes in a strong, thick, 19.5oz bottle. Certainly more than the usual bottle of sauce.

The label is accurate. The sauce is both sweet and spicy. So, a plus for accuracy.

The spice is genuinely enjoyable. It is definitely the best aspect of this sauce. There is no particular heat, but there is certainly a little ‘sizzle’ that sits just behind the experience of the flavor. If the sauce was milder, the spice would be even better.

The ingredients are of varying size, allowing for different and enjoyable textures.

The Bad:

The labeling is ok. Nothing really stands out about it, good or bad. It’s a mixture of tans and shades of brown.

The aroma is almost exactly what you would expect. Sweet, heavy ketchup overtones with a strong dash of vinegar that makes you immediately think ‘here is a store bought sauce’.

The viscosity is fine. It finds a nice medium between pooling and runny. It sticks to the meat (or poultry in this case) well, while ‘floating’ enough to coat properly.

The molasses is nice, but is overshadowed by the ketchup.

The Ugly:

Jumpin Jehosaphat, this is a sweet sauce. And not in that ‘…mmmmm…is that raspberries I detect?’ sort of way. It’s more like the ‘let’s stop at the drugstore and get a toothbrush on the way home so I can scrub this treacly sweetness out of my mouth’ sort of way.

Here is a tip for sauce manufacturers. If you are going to use corn syrup and are deciding whether you should go strong or mild on the sweetness, go mild. When you are making a bold statement with your sweetness, use quality ingredients. If you are using ketchup that is heavy in the corn syrup, cut the ketchup with tomato sauce.

Overall, this sauce is not bad and not good. I’d say it was a bit below average. Will I be using it again? Nope.

General Notes:

I do the majority of the sauce analysis on this site. I have often been assisted by Will Breakstone of Willie B’s Award Winning BBQ (pitmaster, competitor and caterer). The foods used with the sauces are usually brisket, pulled pork and chicken. On occasion, other foods will be used if recommended by the manufacturer (ex. burgers, fries, meatloaf, etc.).

Most of the food used for the reviews is cooked on a Weber Smoky Mountain or a Lang 84. The basic BBQ accoutrements (such as tool sets, chimney starters, etc.) are by Weber. Knives are by Mercer Cutlery. Fuel is either a cherry/oak mix or whatever charcoal I’m in the mood for.


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