The National Best of the Best Sauce Competition is, according to judges each year, one of the most difficult to judge. Remember, these barbecue sauces have already won honors in another competition and judges have to go back several times and re-taste before recording their scores. Because of this we began judging different categories at different times so the judges do not get too full. We have found that the taste buds of a full judge are simply not as alert as those who have not overeaten. Judges tend to take more time in making their decisions. For this reason we have split the judging into different sittings for the last several years. It’s more time consuming but our goal is to give every important entry, and that’s all of them, the best judges, along with the best judging environment possible.
Smokin’ Cole’s Original BBQ Sauce, the top sauce from the Fruit-Spicy Category took Grand Champion. The company hails from the state of South Carolina and barely beat out their sister state of North Carolina, producing the Reserve Grand Champion. Dimples BBQ Sauce took Reserve Grand and also top honors in the Tomato Mild Category. They both receive trophies and an advertising campaign award from the National Barbecue News to promote their sauces. The Best Label Award, along with a trophy, goes to The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint (Original Southern Sweet) with Pootie Mae’s Butt-Kickin’ Mustard Sauce a close runner-up.
Listed here are the top five sauces in each category and over-all top five from the final tables.
There were a couple of sauce “situations” that need to be mentioned. There were several entries from our friends from Australia, Porter’s Produce. After noticing their low scores, I decided to give them my own taste test. Yes, they are different from most American barbecue sauces. When it says “Tomato”, it’s means tomato in its truest form. It tastes just like fresh tomato and not the sweet tomato catsup found in most American sauces. In fact, the labels are all true to the name of the sauce, right down to the spices named. If it reads Tomato with Basil and Garlic, that’s just what you get — the taste of fresh tomatoes with Basil and Garlic! Although I see why the scores are reflect the fact they were judged by American judges, I can appreciate the freshness and simplicity of some great tasting sauces without all the intensity of overwhelming spices and heat. Porter’s Produce Barbeque Sauces are truly a winner and we’re using the extras here at our house.
Another sauce, which did not make the winner’s list, was Mr. Darcy’s Prized Pig Sauce from Pemberley Foods, in Hinsdale, NH. We found this sauce had been mislabeled into the Fruit Mild instead of the Tomato Mild Category too late to make the change. The judging was done at different sittings and too late to get it into the correct category since the judging had already taken place. Frankly, lots of Tomato Mild Sauce producers can be thankful this happened, since most of them would have finished one number down the list! Now, this is according to my opinion, and although I have tasted thousands of sauces I don’t always agree with other experts. However, I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that this is a sauce good enough to compliment award-winning barbecue! Thank you all for your confidence in our ability to again find the best of the best barbecue sauces in the world! Congratulations.