A limited number of bottles of Joe’s Kansas City Whiskey Bar-B-Que Sauce go on sale Friday, Dec. 1.
In a city drowning in barbecue sauce, you might be wondering: What’s the big deal?
Well, the tomato-and-brown sugar Kansas City-style sauce is fortified with a swig of whiskey from another homegrown hero, J. Rieger & Co. Rieger’s brand of whiskey is aged in Spanish sherry barrels, and I suspect that’s what gives the sauce a pleasantly round, mellow and well-balanced flavor.
For comparison’s sake, I happened to have a bottle of Joe’s Original Sauce in my fridge. In a side-by-side taste test (with and without meat per Kansas City Barbeque Society rules), the two sauces were different colors and different weights. The original is browner and thicker, but also sweeter and more brash.
Whiskey is the fifth ingredient, but the sherry cuts the assertiveness of Kansas City’s traditional tomato-and-vinegar base. Molasses stands in for brown sugar, adding some heft.
There’s one intriguing ingredient on both ingredient lists (magnifying glass required!): tamarind concentrate, a sweet-sour-sour ingredient that is used in chutneys. In barbecue sauce, it adds texture and flavor.
“This exotic ingredient isn’t really that exotic,” according to Meathead Goldwyn of amazingribs.com in “KC Classic Barbecue Sauce.” “It shows up on the lists of a lot of great BBQ sauces. It has a sweet citrusy flavor and really amps up a sauce.”
In “The Great BBQ Sauce Book” (Ten Speed Press, 1999), Kansas City’s Ardie Davis includes tamarind in the ingredient glossary. Whiskey — and a final dash of vanilla extract — are not on that list.
The packaging and presentation takes its cues from the spirit world: The 15-ounce liquor-style bottles are corked, banded and hand-labeled. I received number 655 of the 960 numbered bottled on sale as my taster bottle. Batch 1 is a limited-edition offer.
The cost is $14.99 per bottle vs. $4.99 for the original. But if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for a hard-to-please barbecue and/or whiskey lover, this is definitely a sauce they’ll appreciate.
A 2-tablespoon serving has 60 calories and 260 milligrams of sodium.
Buy it at J. Rieger & Co. tasting room, 2700 Guinotte Ave., as well as at the original Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que location, 3002 W. 47th Ave, Kansas City, Kan. It will also be available at The Kansas City BBQ Store, 11922 S. Strang Line Road, Olathe.