Whiskey or Moonshine with that BBQ Sauce?

bbq-sauceFor generations, competition cooks have secretly slipped a little alcohol into their recipes to add another layer of taste sophistication. Now, spirits have come front and center in the latest BBQ marketing strategy.

Down in Culpepper, VA, Chuck Miller makes legal moonshine (he pays taxes on it). His Belmont Farm Distillery uses locally-grown corn that is turned into mash and mixed with yeast. The magic started when Jim Sinden, a retired Marine, came along with an entrepreneurial idea – use Miller’s Kopper Kettle whiskey in his barbeque sauce. The result is Virginia Lightning Moonshine BBQ Sauce.

“It’s selling like crazy,” Sinden told the Freelance Star. “It’s instantly become my No. 1 product.”  They even made the local news in Washington DC. Watch it here.

Linking hillbilly chic with BBQ is not new. As early as 2002, Pappy’s Moonshine Madness BBQ Sauce claimed it was “So hot, you’ll go blind!”  Like its homemade liquor namesake, Pappy’s starts off smooth and the BAM hits you like a load of bricks.

Other products have used country culture effectively. The first Mountain Dew soda bottles featured a sketch of Willy the Hillbilly shooting at a revenuer fleeing an outhouse. The back of the bottle stated “It’ll tickle your innards.” Charming, dontcha think?

When Mountain Dew was first produced, the manufacturers encouraged the connection to moonshine. It was originally marketed as “zero-proof moonshine.”


  1. A little goes a long way.  Moonshine has intense flavor and this factors heavily in controlling the quantities used. Try 1/2 ounce or so in a gallon of sauce.  For marinade, 1/2 cup is plenty. But, remember you can cook that marinade down for a delicious glaze.
  2. As with wine in recipes, the alcohol ‘cooks off’ leaving behind a unique layer of flavor has a lighter, sweeter taste than most American or Scotch whiskeys.but  if added after cooking,  the alcohol is still as potent as it would be in a glass, over ice
  3. All liquors are NOT interchangeable. The smokiness and sweet complexity of Bourbon adds a special something to many pork recipes.   Whiskey butter, or a Whiskey Peppercorn sauce really bring out the flavor of a steak. Canadian whiskey
  4. Have fun! Cooking with spirits doesn’t have to be a competition.  Try Pulled Pork Sandwich with Jack and Coke BBQ Sauce Recipe

Barbecue Sauce Recipe: Tennessee Hollerin’ BBQ Whiskey Sauce Recipe

Cooking with Canadian Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s Recipes


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