Thu Jun 19, 2014
Deserving it's "Middle of the Road" badge, this sauce neither impresses or lets you down, it merely delivers a standard barbecue flavor that doesn't do much to go beyond the basics.
This post brings me halfway through my Garland Jack reviews—three down, three to go. With six sauces, this sub-brand of Kraft puts out a good showing on supermarket shelves. They offer a variety that's more diverse than the other top competitors, really tailoring each sauce to bring out its unique qualities. Beyond the product line, I don't have much insight into how these sauces were developed—everything you find on their website are stories dreamed up by marketers to add mystique to the Garland Jack name.
This sauce has a smoky and sugary aroma. Tilting strongly toward molasses, that sweetness is cut by vinegar, which provides a balance between sweet and tart. The tomato base is a little drowned out, but does have the deep and acidic nature of tomato paste. There's a discernible onion component, with a much more mild garlic that only comes out after subsequent sniffs.
Thickness & Texture
This viscous sauce weighs in between medium and super thick. It's not thick enough that all the sauce clings to a suspended spoon, but what does fall, it all goes in one big chunk, leaving a still very heavy coating left clinging. The sauce is an opaque reddish-brown, with a smooth and glossy look. Very few spices can be seen through its dark color.
Out of the Jar
A strong, sweet molasses flavor sticks with the sauce from start to finish. Quickly after first taste, a heavy handed vinegar mixes in and adds a tartness that's defining to the end as well. The tomato base is slightly fruity, but any sweetness from the tomato is overtaken by the more dominant molasses. The onion and garlic components that came out in the aroma are harder to pick out in the flavor, as the succumb to the vinegar and sugar. There is a light spice at the end that adds a very mild heat to the final tangy aftertaste.
Slathered & Cooked
The sauce coated the chicken evenly, baked in well, and develop some attractive caramelization over direct heat. It made for a glossy and pretty piece of chicken. The flavor didn't quite match the looks though, as it mellowed out from out of the jar. Tomato and molasses were the top players, while the vinegar petered out to only a mild tang. It was balanced alright, but ultimately underwhelming.
Put to Use
This sauce really deserves it's "Middle of the Road" badge. It certainly brought all the players to the barbecue sauce party, but didn't do anything to make them stand out from the sauce next to it. It wasn't bad, but also nothing to get excited about at the same time. Out of the jar the sauce had a very manufactured feel, with corn syrup creating a thick and sugary sauce that relied on the commonplace molasses, vinegar, and tomato to deliver almost all of the flavor. Some undertones of onion, garlic, and liquid smoke gave it depth, but it was nothing to write home about. Over the fire, the sauce displayed fantastic grilling qualities, but the flavor fizzled out from being ok to merely ho-hum. It's an inexpensive sauce, and I feel like it's delivering a slightly better product than most others at the same price point, but it's a very "you get what you pay for" relationship—just don't expect it to wow in anyway.