Bourbon and Bar-B-Que: An Oaky Combination

It’s no secret that Kentucky is home to bourbon: America’s Native Spirit, and drink of choice. In fact, over ⅔ of all spirit exports of the United States are bourbon, making it esteemed and sought after worldwide.

Bourbon is distilled in new charred oak barrels, giving it a distinct flavor and coloring that pairs well with bar-b-que.

Bourbon’s history is that of folklore, as are most great stories. Supposedly, bourbon was invented in 1783 by Robert Samuels. In 1840, his grandson, T.W. Samuels began selling bourbon commercially. Other commercial distilleries existed prior to 1840, however, such as Evan Williams’ distillery that opened in 1783. Bourbon County, Kentucky, was founded in 1785, and the rest is history. Today there are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than there are humans.

At Edley’s, we pride ourselves on our bourbon selection and how our food compliments this fine beverage. Since bourbon is made with charred oak barrels, it has a distinct oakiness in it’s flavoring. We spoke with Jon Parker, Regional Manager of Edley’s Lexington and resident bourbon-aficionado, about bourbon and bar-b-que to get some insider information.

At Edley’s, we use the same white oak that bourbon barrels are made with to smoke our meats, creating a “natural pairing”.

Here’s some of Jon’s favorite pairings of bourbon and menu items.

For Fans of Sweet Bar-B-Que:

Maker’s Mark:
“We recommend pairing Maker’s Mark with our Turkey Platter. The natural smoke flavor of the turkey and sweet bar-b-que sauce pairs excellently with this almost vanilla-toned bourbon.”

Clyde May’s:
“Since Clyde May’s is a vanilla-toned bourbon as well, we recommend to pair it with our Burnt Ends Platter with red bar-b-que sauce, a nice dinner specialty. The oakiness of the bourbon is increased with the smoked meat.”

Angel’s Envy:
“Angel’s Envy also pairs well with our sweeter bar-b-que items. We recommend pairing Angel’s Envy with our Chicken Platter, which comes with our red and white sauce, for a distinct flavor and experience.”

For Fans of Spicy Bar-B-Que:

Knob Creek:
“Knob Creek is a rye-bourbon, making it pair well with our spicier menu items. Knob Creek pairs incredibly well with our Wing Platter with our famous Walking Bird sauce. The smoked wings really accentuate the white oak flavors as well.”

“If you like an extra kick, order your favorite platter at Edley’s and ask for Ghost Sauce to come with it. The ghost peppers in our sauce really bring out the flavors in Bulliet, since it’s another rye-bourbon.”

We hope that you enjoy our bourbon pairings. If you have a favorite bourbon you’d like to hear a pairing for, let us know in the comments on our Facebook page, and we’ll respond with a suggested Edley’s menu item to go with it.


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