Next in the series on Hickory Hollow Jerky is this Hot Shot variety. See my previous reviews of their Original and Teriyaki varieties.
Hickory Hollow Jerky is a brand of Hickory Hollow Jekry, LLC, based out of Eufaula, AL, run by a Baptist Minister named Russ Robbins. Russ makes jerky through his own USDA inspected facility. While Russ has been making jerky for over 30 years, Hickory Hollow Jerky has only been around since November 2008.
This "Hot Shot" jerky is Russ' spicy hot jerky entrant, described on the company's website as "cajun".
Beef round, soy sauce, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, water, corn syrup, potassium sorbate, garlic powder, blended peppers, smoke flavoring added, spices, worcestershire sauce, distilled vinegar, molasses, onion, sugar, natural flavor, tamarind.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, followed by a soy sauce flavor, and a light bit of chile pepper flavor. There's a light spicy burn building up. With some sucking, I get more saltiness. Overall, the surface flavor has a good deal of intensity.
In the chewing, the first I notice is more definition from the soy sauce, and I can pick out the worcestershire more. The saltiness is a bit increased, and there's a light bit of natural meat flavors.
Considering this jerky is dubbed "hot shot", it certainly does have some spicy heat. On an individual piece, it registers on my hot scale as about "medium". Over several pieces, it's hard to say if it's still "medium" or slightly higher at "medium hot". I'm going to go with just "medium".
While the ingredients list shows "blended peppers", I only get a light taste of the flavor. Even though there's plenty of red seasoning visible on these pieces, they don't necessarily have an equal amount of flavor. I get more peppery burn than I do peppery flavor.
The flavor that seems to provide much of this jerky's flavor is a combination of the soy sauce and worcestershire. It's well noticed on the surface, but it becomes more defined in the chewing.
There's a fair amount of smoky flavor on this quite noticeable on the surface, as well as into the chewing.
The natural meat flavors are very light, but just noticeable. I think that through general jerky snacking, they won't be noticed much; it's something you have to think about as you're chewing.
There's also a faint bit of garlic noticeable.
Overall, what you're going to taste in this is a dominant blend of soy sauce and worcstershire, with a well noticed smokiness particularly off the surface. You'll taste a little bit of the red peppery seasoning, but mostly you'll experience its burn.
These are strips of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small pieces.
This is a dry jerky, with a soft flexible feel. Biting a chunk off of a strip requires a bit of effort, and chewing seems a bit labored, and somewhat chewy. Not that bad, though.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff with a fair amount of rubbery resistance, almost like soft plastic. With some sucking and light biting, it breaks apart. Once it's chewed down to a soft mass, it's somewhat of a steak-like chewing texture, similar to a medium-cooked steak, though still a bit of a crumbly texture.
These pieces seem pretty lean, I don't find any visible chunks of fat, no gristle, and no tendon. I do find a fair amount of stringy sinews, but overall they don't provide much distraction.
Handling these pieces do leave behind plenty of red pepper seasoning on my fingertips. Biting off chunks also spreads a little bit of that pepper on my lap.
Hickory Hollow Jerky sells this Original variety from its website at a price of $4.00 for a 3oz bag. They'll tack on $1.00 for shipping. That's a total of $5.00 per bag, or a per ounce price of $1.67.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.67 price per ounce, this offers a good value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability for its overall good flavor, and good chewing texture. The $1.67 price per ounce is about the same as mass-market brands found in grocery stores, but you're getting better flavor and a little better chewing texture.
As a hot variety of jerky, at the same $1.67 price per ounce, it's also a good value. I'm getting a decent amount of spicy heat. It's clearly more heat than what you'd get from the hot varieties of mass-market brands, but at a similar price.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Hot Shot variety from Hickory Hollow Jerky has a flavor dominated by a combination of soy sauce and worcestershire, with a well noticed smokiness from the surface. In fact, it's very much the same flavor found in Hickory Hollow's Original variety, except with the addition of the chile pepper blend.
That chile pepper blend does provide a decent amount of heat, but doesn't really provide all that much flavor. I do pick up a very light amount of chile flavor. But considering Hickory Hollow didn't advertise this as a "red chile" or "chile pepper" variety, then it seems to live up to its advertised billing as "Hot Shot".
But otherwise, that leaves this jerky largely the same jerky as the Original, which I rated as "good", but with some spicy heat added in. It has a similar meat consistency, slightly tough, a little chewy, but still a decent chewing texture. Overall, it's a very flavorful jerky, but I had hoped the addition of chile pepper seasoning would add that extra "burst" of flavor I was looking for. It didn't.
For my recommended beer pairing, go with a porter.
Buy this online: