CaJohns Select Grillin Smoky Bourbon BBQ Sauce Review

We have two bottles of CaJohns Select Grillin BBQ sauces on hand, his Smoky Bourbon and Spicy Bourbon styles. We’re going to focus on the Smoky Bourbon BBQ sauce for this review. Winners of the 2011 Fiery Food Challenge, CaJohns has launched these sauces as a new “upscale” line of products, and they do not disappoint.

With a few dozen chicken wings on hand, we simply seasoned them with salt and pepper, and grilled them until almost done. (This time, they were all “drummies”, which Marilyn prefers… and I like the “flats”, but I’m flexible.) They cooked up nice and crispy. During the last 10 minutes of grilling, we slathered the Cajohns Select Grillin Smoky BBQ Sauce on them, turned them after 2 or 3 minutes and repeated the process twice more.

As you can see in the pic, they caramelized nicely, without burning, and turned out to be the best bbq wings we’ve ever cooked.

Now, let’s get into the sauce.

Texture & Appearance:

Marilyn: Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – This sauce has a great, thick texture with a dark red to brown color, but not too thick and slick like so many store bought BBQ sauces. There are visible small bits of pepper and garlic, and you can smell the bourbon in it. It doesn’t run or thin out while sitting on the plate.

Brian: Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – I love the texture of this sauce. It sits on the plate without running, even after 30 minutes. The dark coloring is very attractive, with the flecks of peppers and seasonings. Thick, rich – almost a “mash” consistency to this sauce brings on a serious BBQ sauce contender, as well as being worthy of sitting high on the shelves of your gourmet foods aisle.


Marilyn: Rated 4 out of 5 Stars – Straight out of the bottle, I love how I can “chew” this sauce… its tiny bits and thick consistency give it some real bite that brings on it’s own level of heat. The bourbon adds its warm heat profile. It is sweet without being the first impression.

Brian: Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – This sauce is gritty, thick, and astoundingly delicious right off the spoon. Tasty and spicy without being overly hot. I agree with Marilyn, I could just eat and chew on this sauce as a treat.

Heat Level:

Marilyn: Rated 3.5 out of 5 Stars – If this were a hot sauce, I would only give it 2.5 stars, but for a BBQ sauce… it brings on the heat. The ancho chiles and black pepper had me burning for a few minutes. And the bourbon just added to the warmth.

Brian: Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – For me it’s only mildly spicy. And I’m ok with that. As I’ve posted many times, I don’t usually care for a hot BBQ sauce… or too much heat in my BBQ sauces. This Smoky sauce is just right.


Marilyn: Rated 3 out of 5 Stars – Big 16 ounce jar, very crisp graphics. The label is not “cutesy” – very straight forward. Eye-catching on a grocery shelf, but might get lost in a hot sauce or BBQ shelf.

Brian: Rated 2.5 out of 5 Stars – Simple, upscale graphics. Perfect for the gourmet aisle. Very little artwork with bold fonts and colors. As a reminder, I’m color-blind… so what do I know? Heh.

Overall Rating:

Marilyn: Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – After tasting the finished product on wings, I found the sticky, warm bourbon flavor really comes out. Not as hot as the sauce out of the bottle, but still warm enough to satisfy *any* BBQ fan. These are the best BBQ wings we’ve ever cooked. As I ate these, the phrase “OMG” kept coming out. Well done CaJohns! Next time I cook with this sauce, I will use much less or very little pepper, and very little salt.

Brian: Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – I agree these are the best BBQ wings we’ve ever cooked. The sauce set up well on the wings, behaved nicely on the grill without burning. Nice bite and big flavors. Sweet and delicious!

Ingredients: tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, organic agave nectar, organic tamari (water, organic soybeans, salt, organic alcohol), worcestershire sauce (distilled vinegar, molasses, corn sugar, water, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, anchovies, tamarind, natural flavor), bourbon whiskey, chipotle chiles, garlic, onion, ancho chiles, salt, spices, natural hickory smoke flavor.

In Summary: These sauces are brand new and my not be available on CaJohns.com just yet. You are getting an exclusive first look! Stay tuned for our review of the CaJohns Select Grillin Spicy Bourbon BBQ Sauce soon.

Update: You CAN order these sauces now by calling CaJohns at 888-703-FIRE (3473). They are also available in the Ohio area at Whole Foods, Weilands, North Market, and Jungle Jims.

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  1. A side note on this product is that it is gluten free, also we use agave nectar instead of corn starch so it is low in sugar.

  2. Thanks for the kind words about this product! What Doc meant to say was we used agave nectar instead of corn syrup. It has a much lower glucose index and makes it a bit more diabetic friendly than the rest of our line. The Tamari is a wheat-free soy, so therefor the lack of gluten. I anticipate these to be on the makrket in early June, but in the meantime, they can be ordered from us by phone or email. Thanks Again!

    1. Thank you Doc and CaJohn for that info. I’ve updated the post to reflect the phone number to call so folks can order these sauces, as well as the markets that carry them.

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