Maple Bourbon BBQ Sauce

For the 2008 competition bbq season, I wanted to 'shake things up' a bit for our Homefires Burnin' BBQ team, and so some new recipes were created and refined and then tried out on the bbq judges in Ontario and the US.  One of the changes I was really excited about was a maple-bourbon bbq sauce to go on our competition ribs.

The sauce had a great balance and depth of flavours and I felt it would appeal to judges who sought a sweet sauce as well as those who liked their bbq a bit spicier; it had elements of both styles in a single sauce.

After a very modest result with the ribs in Salisbury, Maryland in late April, I shrugged off that result only to have the ribs and sauce met with similar indifference at both the following Ottawa and Paris (Ontario) events.  Still enthused about the sauce, but getting more than a little disappointed in the results it was garnering in the competition arena, I passed this one on to a fellow competitor who was heading down to Lynchburg, TN to represent Canada at the World BBQ Championships.  Danielle (Diva Q) is a top level foodie, not to mention one of the rising stars of competition bbq stateside and already a champion here in Canada.  I was buoyed by her interest/enthusiasm for the sauce and expressed intent to tinker with the recipe a bit and submit it as a reworked Jack Daniel's-based sauce in the JD Sauce category at this prestigious event.

When even Danielle's award-winning touch failed to produce a call with the sauce, I knew it was time to move on to some other flavour profile to wow the judges in 2009.  My loss (losses?) are your gain, as I remain convinced that this is one damn fine bbq sauce; just not one with an award-winning pedigree. Who knows; maybe it will produce trophy-worthy results for you.  Perhaps not at a major bbq contest, but at least with friends and family as part of your backyard barbecues this coming summer.

Try this one out and drop a comment with your thoughts and results with this recipe.

As a side note, maple vinegar is available from gourmet food outlets.  I get mine from Rush Creek Winery in Aylmer, ON.  I'm sure you could sub a blend of rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar and maple syrup to somewhat duplicate this ingredient.

Good luck and great Q!

Maple Bourbon BBQ Sauce

2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

2/3 cup bourbon (Jim Beam preferred)

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons maple vinegar

2 tablespoon white sugar

2/3 cup maple syrup

1 cup ketsup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in saucepan.  Simmer until smooth and thickened to desired consistency; about 15 minutes should do it.


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  • 1/25/2009 7:57 AM Big Guy wrote:
    Maple Vinegar ? where do you find it, I've not seen yet.
    Reply to this
  • 1/25/2009 7:59 AM Big Guy wrote:
    OOps I missed the blurb on the Rush Creek Winery. Sorry
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  • 1/28/2009 11:08 AM Diva Q wrote:
    This is one of my all time favorite top notch sauces. It should have done better at the Jack!!

    Also another resource for Maple vinegar is to mix sherry vinegar with maple syrup or you can also purchase from Essence of Niagara. They are a small company that was bought out by niagara Vinegars but they have many small foodie retailers selling their items. Also Whole Foods handles an extensive line of vinegars.
    Reply to this
  • 1/28/2009 11:23 AM Larbo wrote:
    Since bacon-infused bourbon is a hot new cocktail mixer, how about infusing the JB with a little bacon? I'm working now on a bacon recipe that will glaze the bacon with a bacon-infused bourbon.
    Reply to this
  • 1/31/2009 1:19 PM Larbo wrote:
    I'm gonna use this sauce on my version of the "bacon explosion" that I'm taking to a Super Bowl party. Can't wait to try it!
    Reply to this
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