North and South Carolina BBQ Sauces take honors in National Best-of-the-Best Competition

By Carlene Phelps

The National Best of the Best Sauce Competition is, according to judges each year, one of the most difficult to judge. These are barbecue sauces that 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.

The judging is normally done the last of October or first of November, but due to some health issues in the Phelps’ family this year, it was drawn out over a longer period of time. However, we are proud of the judging process used and appreciate the patience of those entering. No one entering a competition likes to wait beyond the original date given for a list of winners and we understand this as well.

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 ten in each category and over-all top six from the final tables.


Tomato Mild
 1) Dimples BBQ Sauce
 2) Galaxy Original BBQ Sauce
 3) Demon Pig BBQ Sauce
 4) Southern Sweet by The Shed
 5) Tay’s Sweet-N-Smokey Southern
 6) Ole Ray’s Red/Delicious Barbeque & Cooking Sauce
 7) Original by Pigchaser
 8) Arkansaw Hog Sauce
 9) Chief Smokey by Company 7 BBQ
 10) Smokin’ Cole’s Original

Tomato Spicy
 1) Ole Ray’s Pork-O-Licious
 2) Tennessee River Blackberry
 3) Habanera by Pigchaser
 4) Demon Pig Blaze Orange
 5) Hot ‘n Nasty by DennyMike’s
 6) Smokin’ Cole’s Original BBQ Sauce
 7) Randy’s Ribs “Hot” Hickory Pit
 8) Tennessee River Spicy
 9) Lynch BBQ Mild Sauce
 10) Spicy Shed Spread by The Shed

Fruit Mild
 1) Eroc’s “It’s So” Boysenberry-Apricot
 2) Eroc’s Peach-Bourbon & Pomegranate
 3) Eroc’s “The Other Sauce” Blackberry
 4) Eroc’s Raspberry Chipotle
 5) Eroc’s Blackberry & Mango
 6) Tennessee River Cranberry Delight
 7) Sucklebuster’s Peach
 8) Smokin’ Cole’s Original BBQ Sauce
 9) Ole Ray’s Apple/Cinnamon
 10) Ole Ray’s Blackberry Wine

Fruit Spicy
 1) Smokin’ Coles Original BBQ Sauce
 2) Smoky Jon’s Spicy Fruit BBQ Sauce
 3) Spicy Orange Sunset by The Shed
 4) Tennessee River Apple Jack BBQ Sauce
 5) Tennessee River Blackberry BBQ Sauce

Mustard Mild
 1) Ole Ray’s Classic Gold Barbeque & Cooking Sauce
 2) Pootie Mae’s Butt’ Kickin’ Mustard Sauce
 3) Captain Carolina by Company 7 BBQ
 4) Mississippi Mild Mustard Sauce by The Shed

Mustard Spicy
 1) Sucklebuster’s Gold
 2) Pootie Mae’s Butt’ Kickin’ Mustard Sauce
 3) Smoky Jon’s Spicy Mustard BBQ Sauce
 4) Ole Ray’s Kentucky Bourbon Barbeque Sauce
 5) Spice It Up Mustard Sauce by The Shed

Vinegar Mild
 1) Sucklebuster’s Honey
 2) Carolina Style by DennyMike’s Sauces & Rubs
 3) Mississippi Mild Mustard by The Shed
 4) Tay’s All Purpose Southern BBQ Sauce
 5) Sucklebuster’s Original

Vinegar Spicy
 1) Carolina Style by DennyMike’s
 2) Mississippi Classic Spicy Vinegar by The Shed
 3) Smoky Jon’s Spicy Vinegar BBQ Sauce
 4) Sucklebuster’s Chipotle
 5) Sucklebuster’s Hot & Spicy

Best Label
 1) The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint
 2) Pootie Mae’s Butt-Kickin’ Mustard Sauce

GRAND: Smokin’ Cole’s Original from Fruit Spicy Category

RESERVE GRAND: Dimples Sweet & Yummy from Tomato Mild Category

3rd OVERALL: Tay’s Sweet-N-Sassy from Tomato Spicy Category

4th OVERALL: Sucklebuster’s Gold from Mustard Mild Category

5th OVERALL: Eroc’s “It’s So” Boysenberry Apricot BBQ Sauce from Fruit Mild Category

                                     6th OVERALL: Sucklebuster’s Honey from
                                     Vinegar Mild Category

There are a couple of sauces “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. They are different from most American sauces. When it says “Tomato”, it means tomato in its truest form. It tastes just like a fresh tomato and not the sweet tomato catsup found in most of our 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 Sauces 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!

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