The Liquid Smoke Taste-Off

Here is the tale of the tape:

1) Wright’s All Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke

2) CedarHouse Ultra-Premium Liquid Smoke (All Natural Hickory)

3) Colgin All Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke

4) Stubb’s Hickory Liquid Smoke

We are basing it off a score of 4 being the most desirable and 1 being the least desirable. We will rank each liquid smoke brand from most desirable to least desireable. To be clear, we will rate each liquid smoke a 4, 3, 2, or 1 and we will only use 4, 3, 2, 1 once in each category.

Mike’s review and taste-off of the liquid smoke brands are up first.

Round 1:  The Packaging
CedarHouse = 4
Stubb’s = 3
Wright’s = 2
Colgin = 1

I liked the packing of CedarHouse, Wrights, and Stubb’s. All three liquid smoke brands were in glass bottles which gave it a nice feel and weight. I was disappointed in Colgin, as the plastic bottle (though more durable) gave the liquid smoke bottle an extremely cheap feel. CedarHouse and Stubb’s had a nice label feel…more premium texture to the label.  CedarHouse’s label was by far the most appealing and screamed Ultra-Premium with its gold colar.  The bottle resembled a high end wine bottle or liquor bottle since it had a separate front and back label. Wright’s label had with a flashy gold trim was off center and had a cheap brochure look to it. Colgin again disappointed with a shrink wrapped film.
Winner:  CedarHouse Ultra-Premium All Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke

Round 2:  The Ingredients
Wright’s = 4
CedarHouse = 3
Stubb’s = 2
Colgin = 1

All liquid smoke brands claim that their product is “All Natural”.  We interpret that as just liquid smoke and nothing else.  Wrights takes the top here as the only ingredients are: water and natural hickory smoke concentrate. That is pure as you can get.  Cedar House comes in at a close close close second and only gets a rating of 3 because of a techincality.  We chose Hickory…and CedarHouse has a bit of Mesquite. CedarHouse Liquid Smoke ingredients are: water, hickory smoke, mesquite smoke.  That is pure as you can get.  Stubb’s and Colgin both had additives in addition to the smoke like vinegar, molasses, salt, soy protein, and caramel color.  This doens;t sound “all natural” to me…So I rated Stubb’s and Colgin the lowest marks.
Winner: Wright’s All Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke

Round 3:  The Aroma
CedarHouse = 4
Wright’s = 3
Stubb’s = 2
Colgin = 1

I put 8 drops of each brand out on a shallow dish and marked the high notes and the low notes.  CedarHouse bar far had the best aroma. I think it has to do with the addition of mesquite smoke which seems to mellow out the hickory and gives of a bit sweeter aroma. Colgin smelled a bit acidic and may be due to the vinegar that they add in the product. I could be biased since I know that vinegar is added…but that’s how my nose rated Colgin.
Winner: CedarHouse Ultra-Premium All Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke

Round 4:  The Taste in Salsa
CedarHouse = 4
Colgin=3
Wright’s = 2
Stubb’s = 1

CedarHouse Liquid Smoke had the best overall taste in Salsa which resulted in a smooth and rich smoke flavor with a bit of sweetness.  Again, I think it’s because of the addition of mesquite. I was disappointed to see that Wright’s had a poor showing. Wright’s seemed a bit bitter to me though the aroma that it gave off was a nice smoke essence. I was surprised to see Colgin come in with a strong finish. Winner: CedarHouse Ultra-Premium All Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke

Round 5:  The Taste in Chicken Soup
Wright’s = 4
CedarHouse = 3
Stubb’s = 2
Colgin = 1

Oooh!  Chicken soup…I love chicken soup and how it warms the soul.  I was excited to compare the taste of all four brands in my most favorite soup.  Wrights came in as the winner in this category…though CedarHouse was very close behind.  I was curious to the difference in results to the Salsa and sat a bit to think how the liquid smoke had changed.  My belief centers around two things …a) that the soup can more easily disperse the liquid smoke within the soup compared to the salsa which may keep pockets and b) perhaps the saltiness of the soup interacts with the your tongue differently which affects how the tongue absorbs flavors.  In my mind it was a tie between Wright’s and CedarHouse. In the end, I gave Wright’s liquid smoke the nod.
Winner: Wright’s All Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke

 

Why we did not have a taste-off on a cooked meat dish.  We try to keep all variables the same.  Marinading the meat with the liquid smoke would have too much variance due to differences in meat cut, thickness, cooking temperature, and absorption rate of the liquid smoke flavor.  So we limited our liquid smoke flavor taste-off to the same jar of salsa, and the same brand of chicken soup taken from the same production run.  We think the liquid smoke flavors tasted on the salsa and soup tests were a perfect way to compare the flavor differences of the four liquid smoke brands to keep almost every varible consistent.

The final tally and the overall Winner: CedarHouse Ultra-Premium All Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke!
CedarHouse = 18 pts                 Buy it on Amazon click here
Wright’s = 15 pts               Buy it on Amazon click here
Stubb’s = 10 pts         Buy it on Amazon click here
Colgin = 7 pts       Buy it on Amazon click here

Pat’s and Ed’s review of their Liquid smoke taste-off will be coming shortly.  First, I have to pull Pat out of his man cave.  I think he is installing LED track lighting to shine on his talking wall fish.  Then, I have to get Ed out of the Duck blind as I think he regular takes a nap in there.  The only time I see Ed come running is when his wife yells out that little Luke shot a squirrel which needs cleaning and then he’ll put a dab of liquid smoke on it.   “……some folks say poor little squirrel.  I say, …poor big Ed”