All you hot sauce collectors out there might want to consider heading over to Tabasco.com for a bottle of limited-edition Avery Island Reserve Tabasco, named after the island in south Louisiana where the sauce was created by Edmund McIlhenny and is still made. To celebrate its 140th anniversary, the family-owned McIlhenny Company released 2,500 5-ounce bottles of the fiery stuff.
What makes it so special? "Avery Island Reserve is aged and processed the same as original Tabasco Sauce," says Paul McIlhenny, president and CEO of McIlhenny Company. "The difference is that it's made from just the finest Avery Island peppers that are hand-selected by McIlhenny family members. Because these peppers are at their peak ripeness - fiery in color and heat - the Reserve is noticeably brighter in color and heat."
Gimmicky? Yes. But also delicious. To me, the special brew tastes like a hotter, smokier, more concentrated version of regular Tabasco. I checked in with Gretchen VanEsselstyn, Editor in Chief of Chile Pepper magazine, to get a serious hot sauce connoisseur's opinion. "The Avery Island Reserve sauce has many of the characteristics of classic Tabasco: a depth of full, round pepper flavor, the almost wine-like complexity that comes from aging, a clean afterburn, and a good balance of acidity and salt. Yet, in many ways, it's like Tabasco with the volume turned up - more concentrated, more robust. The flavor comes on quicker and it has both more sweet pepper flavor and more tart-tangy acid. To my palate, it's also about 50 percent hotter. All in all, it's a very refined, fresh-tasting sauce with a killer kick."
Have you tried the special Tabasco? What do you think of it? What recipes have you used it in? Maybe one of the nearly 200 recipes with Tabasco on Epicurious?
Megan O. Steintrager is a senior editor at Epicurious.com. She has worked as a writer and editor at Epicurious since the late '90s. Steintrager holds a master's in journalism from New York University with a concentration in Cultural Reporting and Criticism, and has taken numerous cooking classes at New York 's Institute for Culinary Education and the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health. She has worked as a writer and editor for ConsumerReports.org, Restaurant Business magazine, and Spin.com, and has been published in Self, Brides, and Time Out New York, among other print and online publications.
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