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Otis' Battle Tested Original Mesquite

Otis' Battle Tested Original Mesquite

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Otis' Battle Tested Original Mesquite

Otis' Battle Tested Craft Barbecue Sauce

$10.99 for 19oz at Otis' Battle Tested Craft Barbecue Sauce

Ketchup, Brown Sugar, Worcestershire Sauce, Red Wine Vinegar, Garlic, Spices, Celery Salt, Natural Flavors

Otis' Battle Tested Original Mesquite


When you think of things to look forward to for your 21st birthday, getting a barbecue sauce recipe is not something most folks probably have on their list. But that was Mike Otis's wish, and he got it when his father entrusted a sauce recipe that was developed by Mike's grandmother in the 1920's to his son on that occasion. Mike then began cooking that treasured family secret, tinkering with it along the way, and continued to share the sauce with family and friends, as was the practice for generations. It wasn't until 2019 that Mike took the next step and began bottling and selling the sauce to the general public out of his home base of Raleigh, NC. He chose Battled Tested as the brand name both as nod to the sauce's long history, and the Otis family's tradition of military service. In an effort to give back to that community, 5% of the profits from product sales goes to a non-profit that works to prevent veteran suicide. There's currently four different sauce varieties in the Battled Tested line-up that are sold online and in numerous groceries throughout North Carolina along with select shops in Virginia, South Carolina, and New York.


A full spectrum of barbecue aromas fills the nose as an initial whiff brings strong notes of smoke, sugar, vinegar, and tomato. These form a bold profile, but it's not overwhelmingly strong at the same time. When digging deeper into the more nuanced players, a Worcestershire savoriness becomes very clear, while a spice layer adds complexity with celery popping the most, but the usual onion, garlic, and pepper also playing parts. It's hard to tell if a faint tingle in the nose is indicative of there being enough pepper to impart some heat in the flavor, or if it's just from the strength of the vinegar.

Thickness & Texture

This semi-glossy sauce has an opaque maroon hue that makes it difficult to see the spices, but in bright sunlight, small and medium orange specs are visible, along with large either spice or veggie bits. Those bigger pieces floating around in the sauce give it extra texture beyond the thinned tomato paste consistency it has. The sauce's thickness runs medium-thin, and it falls from a suspended spoon in a fast and chunky pour that doesn't take long to switch to a couple slower drips and stop, leaving a medium coating of sauce left clinging to the silverware.

Out of the Jar

Right off the bat you get a well balanced play between sweet and tangy tomato that defines this as "barbecue." That is only solidified further as the sauce settles on the tongue and Worcestershire adds both complexity and a strong savory quality. A second or two later, a well integrated smoke makes an entrance as the vinegar starts to overtake the sugars and the spices become part of the flavor equation. While celery was the most prominent in the aroma, it's pretty equally weighted with the garlic, onion, and peppers in the flavor here. As the sauce makes its exit, an increase in the tang and mellow heat define the aftertaste, which retains all of the spices and some sweet tomato as well.

Otis' Battle Tested Original Mesquite

Slathered & Cooked

This sauce brushed onto the chicken in a medium and even layer than baked down in a spotty manner over indirect heat. When moved directly over the coals, there was some slight caramelization along with spots of sauce loss here and there. Like out of the jar, the first bites delivered a full and robust barbecue profile that was a balanced mixture of sweet, tangy, fruity, and smoky. The complexity intensified a few bites in with the entrance of Worcestershire and the spices. There was less heat to speak of after being cooked, but a mellow spicy tingle did build up by the time the leg was done being consumed.

Put to Use

This was my last of the four bottles provided to me by Mike Otis of the Battle Tested sauces, and I very much enjoyed them all. The variations between them were slight, and you could quibble with that, but having four different options of such a good barbecue base isn't really a bad thing. I'm not always a big smoky sauce lover, but the smoke flavor never overpowered and felt very at home in these sauces, and I actually enjoyed the slight extra sharpness and prominence of the mesquite over the hickory in the context of this sweet and tangy sauce. My attraction to heat did leave me with a slight preference for the spicier "Signature" sauces, but there was enough pepper here to still keep me a happy eater. With a well crafted and layered standard barbecue profile, this sauce is well suited to handle whatever you want to toss it on—it's not so heavy handed that it totally drowns out chicken or other light meats, but it's also strong enough to stand up against burgers, ribs, and other heavy hitters.

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