Many whisky lovers sneer a bit at Jack Daniel’s, and I honestly admit that I am one of them, as their standard Old No. 7 is not exactly a top notch whiskey. But at the same time I admit just as honestly that they have a hidden gem in their product range that I think is just marvelous.
You can buy wood chips made from used Jack Daniel’s casks that can be used for adding another dimension to your Barbeque.
I have a soft spot for Barbeque, and especially for the traditional style of the American South. Brisket, pulled pork, beef ribs, you name it. The secret of turning cheap cuts of meat into true delicacies is slow smoking at a low temperature. This is usually done with charcoal and/or wood.
The delicate whiskey warehouse aroma can already be smelled through the sealed plastic bag in which the chips are sold. After half an hour of soaking in water they are sprinkled in small batches over the coals or the wood in your grill or smoker. A good handful should be enough for most purposes.
To test the effect of the barrel chips I prepared a 1 kg piece of pork neck that I rubbed with salt, pepper, demerara sugar, cumin, thyme, paprika and chili powder before putting it into my smoker. At a mean temperature of 110°C it took about two hours to reach the 80°C core temperature that are the best choice for a juicy pork roast. I divided the handful of chips into four batches that I added from time to time.
Judging from my experience with wood smoking I didn’t really expect to taste the meat of Jack Daniel’s whiskey – the amount of whiskey containd in the chips is just not sufficient for that – and so it turned out. But the result was a delicioucs piece of pork that was definitely more aromatic than if I had used plain wood for smoking. A perfect companion for this is my All-Purpose BBQ Sauce, by the way.
Of course you can also use the chips on your regular grill for steaks, skewers or sausages, but I have not tried out this yet. I would guess the meat will not have sufficient contact with the wood smoke to really benefit from the whiskey aroma, though. Proper hot-smoking certainly is the most effective way of getting the goodness of a whiskey barrel into your meat.
And here is my plea to Scottish distilleries: Please offer this as well! What a delight must it be to enjoy a beef rib smoked with chips from a Laphroaig barrel or a Macallan sherry butt brisket!