Curtis McMillan
The views expressed in db Reader do not represent the views of the drinks business.

Bourbon meets Barbecue

American culture comes with an image. I can’t say how or why this happens, but it seems every culture has a stereotype. When people think of bourbon it’s easy to associate barbecue with that mental imagery. The industrial bourbon manufacturers have used this identity to increase their bottom line. We have seen a growth in food branded products by bourbon manufacturers in the last three years. This could be counted as an indicator of the category’s rise, or just another way to reach out to the consumer and help secure brand recognition. This act of selling barbecue sauce branded as Jim Beam or Jack Daniels made me question my feelings on this matter. I myself have yet to make a good or bad opinion on food branded alcohol products. I hope to have something for you by the end of this article. So like always let’s get to the meat and potatoes.

I was walking around my local grocery store, and stumbled into the sauces section. This small area seems to grow at the same rate as my waistline. As a good country boy I have grown up on a diet of steak and potatoes. A good steak does not need sauces in the same way good bourbon does not need a flavour such as honey. This diligence to cook a good steak without a barbecue sauce does not stop me from looking over the variety in the same way I do when I’m scanning the whiskey selection in a liquor retailer. I almost never eat by myself and most people don’t have this same code of ethics as me. So it behooves me to buy a bottle from time to time. A few months back my little local retailer started to stock Jack Daniels barbecue sauce. I being the whiskey nut that I am, purchased this product without thinking twice about it. Now I fancy myself as a decent cook and have made many dishes with whiskey as my sauté. My hope was that I would be able to get that same great flavour without all the hard work.

I was a little sad once everything was done, to find that the flavour I was looking for was missing. It did not cook with the same bourbon flavours you can get from just pouring the bottle into the pan as you sear your steak. It was not just Jack Daniels but Beam also was missing that flavour. I think it safe to say it’s just not what I expected.

Need more flavour

Even though I was disappointed in the missing flavour. I still buy the Jack Daniels mustard for my sandwiches. Do I think people build better mustard’s for cheaper? Maybe but I’m just as much a sucker for branding as the next guy. In the end it’s a good barbecue sauce or mustard. It’s just not the same as taking the time to pour a bottle into the frying pan. I understand they are doing the best they can to capture that flavour. I think you my European friends need to understand that just because it has your favourite bourbon on the label of a food product it may not taste like that bourbon. I honestly feel that gimmicky food products take away from the heritage of the category that I’m extremely romantic about. I understand that money is money, but flavoured bourbons and flavoured food products just do nothing for me.

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