Up in Whiskey Barrel Smoke
When I got the call informing me that our original supplier of smoked pepper was no longer going to be able to meet our demand for this popular product, my first reaction was, “well we’re out of the smoked pepper game…”
Then I looked at the sales numbers and realized how much our customers LOVE this bold pepper and I knew we had to do something…fast!
A few months later, I was waiting with anticipation. And then, one chilly February day, my big purchase finally arrived. A shiny, brand new, wood-burning, Ole Hickory rotisserie smoker.
This piece of machinery is sizable, to say the least. It took a few hours for me and most of folks in the back of the house (with the help of one forklift and two pallet jacks) to get this beast off the semi, out of its crate, maneuvered around a corner, and into position in our production area. But we did it, and without any damage to any of us or "the beast"!
A few days later it was properly piped, flued, and ready for its maiden smoking voyage. Meanwhile, we knew we would need to find just the right fuel, so I met with my new friend, Thomas, at Rocky Mountain Barrel Company.
Stepping into their warehouse is like stepping back in time. Wooden barrels are everywhere you look, stacked floor to ceiling. They have rum, tequila, chardonnay, and red wine barrels galore. While those were all interesting, I was there for the whiskey barrels; and because of all the local, craft distilling in Colorado, they had no shortage of whiskey barrels. Thomas was generous with his time and showed us different options. Within an hour, I had three amazingly aromatic whiskey barrels in the back of my truck.
We then set about figuring out just the right process for infusing that distinctive smoked flavor into spices. It definitely took some trial and error to figure out the right temperature, smoke levels, and timing. The road to perfectly cold-smoked pepper was a little bumpy, but in the end, after we learned how to tame the beast a bit, we prevailed. Our Whiskey Barrel Smoked Black Pepper is now smoked in-house over the span of two days. We carefully time rotations to ensure that each piece of pepper can fully absorb the smoky notes.
We were so stoked by the smoky flavor complexities that we were able to develop that we went on to create our own Whiskey Barrel Smoked Sugar and Whiskey Barrel & Hickory Smoked Salt. More recently, we added a second (slightly smaller) smoker to the fleet, aiming to keep up with growing demand for these unique spices.
Who knows what we’ll smoke next. But for now, the popularity of these is keeping us busy! Until then, smoke on friends, smoke on.
Are you in to smokin' like Mike? Check out Chasing BBQ, his road trip of a lifetime that took him to 88 'cue joints in 43 days.