Say it with us: wuhs-tuh-shir.
However you pronounce it, this English brown sauce’s mix of sweet, sour, deep, spicy, and umami adds a distinctive depth of flavor to meats, cocktails, stews, sauces, and more.
First concocted by chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins (who would go on to create the Lea & Perrins brand) in the city of Worcester and first sold in 1837, the sauce is said to have been adapted from a recipe rooted in India and is purported to be made with fermented anchovies, tamarind, aromatics, salt, and/or sugar (though the exact recipe is kept a closely guarded secret—sort of).
Having created and defined Worcestershire sauce’s very identity, Lea & Perrins remains to be beaten, but we wanted to know anyway: how do the new players compare?
Lea & Perrins
The OG Worcestershire sauce (which we thus take to be the definitive version) takes on a generally dark yet somewhat translucent color and a bright, acidic scent, perfumed with what seems to be allspice or clove.
It’s not too salty, allowing its complex flavors—grassy, celery seed-like notes, pungent anchovies, tangy malt vinegar—to shine through. Though rather sweet, it goes for a spice-filled finish that lingers long on the tongue and perks up anything you add the sauce to.