Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q Classic Carolina Sauce
In the late 1980s, brothers Larry and Danny Williamson opened up a barbecue shack in the small town of Sylacauga, Alabama and it found a lot of love. They knew they wanted to expand, but needed the right space, so the two took off on a road trip in search for the right location and building, which they found outside of Atlanta in Marietta, GA. In 1992, after a couple years of being opened there, one of their patrons said if they could bottle their sauce, he would carry it in his grocery store. So the brothers designated an employee to do just that, and their sauce business took off from there. Currently Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q has two location and an online sales business where you can purchase any of their five different barbecue sauce varieties, along with other types of sauces, rubs, and merchandise.
A mustard whose sharpness has been tamed is the best way to describe the primary aroma of this sauce. It's mainly sugar doing the job of tempering the mustard's bite, but a lighter acidic tomato is also at play. A deeper whiff releases a good amount of complexity with notes of celery, black pepper, onion, and garlic all adding up to clearly define the sauce in the realm of barbecue.
Thickness & Texture
This yellow-orange sauce is semi-glossy, opaque, and mostly smooth with the exception of some larger spice bits adding a minimal texture. The most noticeable of those are large black pepper specs, but there's also some white spots around the same size. The sauce's consistency is like a thinned maple syrup and its thickness clocks in a notch or two below medium. From a suspended spoon, the sauce first releases in a large drip followed quickly by a lot of smaller ones, and once almost all the sauce has fallen, one or two slow final drips ends the pour and medium layer of sauce is left clinging to the silverware.
Out of the Jar
A sweet mustard start almost instantly turns tangy when a combo of acidic tomato and vinegar enter simultaneously. It's mostly the vinegar adding harshness, but a little bit of that mustard bite is at play too. The tomato flavor comes into a balance with mustard as the sauce settles on the tongue, and it's at this point that the spices that were clear in the aroma build complexity with the standard garlic and onion, and less common celery. As the sauce starts its exit, the mustard and vinegar combo enjoys a bump up, while the black pepper and other chiles release a medium heat to end with a very tart and mildly spicy, mustardy aftertaste.
Slathered & Cooked
This sauce brushed onto the chicken in a medium and even layer that set very nicely over indirect heat. When moved directly over the coals, there was quick caramelization that led to blackening in spots, while there was very little sauce loss. The first bites released a very clean and uncomplicated flavor that struck a good balance between mustard, tomato, sugar, and vinegar. That tomato came into the forefront to make the final bites of the leg taste more like a tomato sauce with hints of mustard, which was opposite of how it tasted out of the jar. The more nuanced spices never fully regained their presence in the cooked version, but they were still hanging out in the background enough that a pretty full flavor profile was delivered by the time the leg was done being consumed.
Put to Use
Even though they've been around for probably about 30 years now, Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q sauces are a new addition on my grocery store shelf here in North Carolina, and they piqued my interest enough upon seeing them that I picked up a bottle. Being from Georgia, I thought the mustard based sauce would be a good place to start with the brand, and it delivered a solid showing. Out of the jar this was clearly a tangy mustard sauce, so it was a little surprising and interesting that it took on more of a tomato-based profile after being cooked. The end flavor at that point was a bit downplayed and didn't deliver enough depth to send this sauce into the higher ranks, but it was still commendable. That being said, I think this sauce was much more successful straight out of the jar, where the vinegar sharpness made the mustard really stand out and created a flavor profile very well suited for dressing pulled pork, ribs, and wings.