One thing I have been disappointed in has been the quality of BBQ around here. I mean, it’s my favorite kwizeen, right up there with…well nothin’ else. A good smoked pork butt, slow-cooked brisket, and fall-off-the-bone ribs are some of life’s finest pleasures…emphasis on good. Well good has been thin on the ground. We’ve tried a couple of places and been completely underwhelmed; pork that’s not real tender, brisket without a smoke ring, and ribs that were just ok.
That is until we got to Rib Licker’s Smoke Shack in Glasgow KY. Now THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. You walk up and the smell of the smoker hits you right away, you know this place has the right stuff. Instead of the old barn with a cooker in the back, they built this place from scratch with a whole warehouse/barn/biker/trucker vibe and it’s awesome. You walk in and get in line, order from what they got ready to go.
Peggy and I ordered a lot of food, more than we thought we did. She got brisket with hashbrown casserole and spicy slaw , while I got a full rack of ribs (had to in a place called Rib Lickers…) with green beans and sweet potato casserole.
These folks know what they are doing, absolutely amazing ‘cue, done right. The brisket was tender and smoky with a little sweet/spicy sauce, and the ribs were melt-in-your-mouth tender, and lordy I love the burnt ends. And they didn’t forget the sides either. That spicy slaw was very peppery and delicious, the hashbrown casserole was fluffy and flavorful, the green beans tasted fresh from the garden and the sweet potatoes were buttery nutty goodness. We will be back.
So we’ve been in Kentucky for a couple months now and while we have been sampling the bourbon, we hadn’t visited an actual distillery yet. For our first visit we wanted something a little smaller, a little more craft and we found Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon KY, the only bourbon distillery that is actually owned by a member of the Beam family.
The drive was beautiful.
If you know know the Beams, it’s not just Jim Beam. The Beam family is pretty much responsible for bourbon as we know it, and the Beams have been master distillers at almost every distillery in Kentucky for the last 130 years. Limestone was started by two Beam brothers in an effort to bring the craft back to the family, with their ancestral recipes and processes – check out their timeline to get a sense of the history. We had an awesome tour guide who really brought that history to life, what a wonderful tour and tasting.
Did I mention they are dog friendly? Yep they have a couple of pooches on staff there, and Samson made a lot of new friends. He’s been to a number of wineries but this was his first distillery, and I think he enjoyed it.
So what did we like the best? Well they make a number of things there, not just bourbon. They have traditional white lightning straight up (and so smooth), and with different flavors like Moon Pie, blackberry, apple cinnamon, and jalapeno. Peggy tried a Moon Pie mixed with Orange Crush…the most amazing creamsicle you have ever tasted. I had a blackberry mixed with a little RC Cola…Dr Pepper! And the blackberry mixed with the apple cinnamon…blackberry cobbler. If you don’t eat dessert, you might as well drink it.
Now the bourbons. I tried Yellowstone, Minor Rye and Precinct No. 6. My favorite was the Precinct, slightly sweet and smoky, a little pepper up front and a beautiful finish. Really a wonderful example of the distiller’s craft.
If you’re looking for a slightly less commercial example of the real distiller’s craft, definitely check out Limestone Branch. It’s not very big, but the products they create are excellent, exactly what you’d expect from a long family history.