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Bourbon BBQ Ketchup? Yep – That Just Happened, but with Tennessee Whiskey!

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Big Burger dripping with Bourbon BBQ Ketchup! Big Burger dripping with Bourbon BBQ Ketchup! Kent Whitaker

Happy Bourbon Day! Yes, Flag Day is also National Bourbon Day according to the internet and social media posts. I'm in! so lets make ketchup with Bourbon... or Tennessee Whiskey!

As many readers of my cookbooks may know I’m a whiskey drinker living a short distance away from the hallowed grounds where both Jack Daniels Whiskey and George Dickel Whisky are produced. Yes, the two neighboring distilleries spell “Whiskey” differently.

First - I know that there is a difference between Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon. To be classified as a Tennessee Whiskey/Whisky, by law, the distilled product must be made using the Lincoln County Process. Only a handful of Whiskey’s/Whisky’s are classified (by Law) as being a “Tennessee Whiskey.”

• Jack Daniel's, from Lynchburg
• George Dickel, from Tullahoma
• Benjamin Prichard's, from Kelso
• Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, from Nashville
• Collier and McKeel, from Nashville
• TennSouth Distillery, From Lynnville


Pretty Dang Cool Whiskey Holster there - anyway - Just to add to the confusion - Benjamin Prichard's does not use the Lincoln County Process – but was allowed to keep the Tennessee Whiskey name due to a grandfather clause written into the name. And, bourbon made in Kentucky due not classify as “Tennessee Whiskey” but almost all Whiskey’s produced in Tennessee can be classified in Kentucky as Bourbon!

Why do I know all of this info? I drink Tennessee Whiskey, Tennessee Whisky, Whiskey made in Tennessee as well as Bourbon from Kentucky. A Tennessee boy drinking Kentucky Bourbon? After all, my name is “Kent” – named after the Commonwealth – aka - state of Kentucky where I was born. I think my mom and dad saw this coming.

And I’ve done my fair share of sampling assorted whiskey/bourbon brands from across the country including Chattanooga’s own “Chattanooga Whiskey.”

Recipe Time!

So where does that leave us? Hungry! And wanting a Big Ole Burger drenched in homemade BBQ Ketchup flavored your choice of Tennessee Whiskey or Bourbon!

Kent’s Bourbon BBQ Ketchup – made from Tennessee Whiskey

  • 1 can tomato sauce, 15 ounce can
  • 1 can tomato paste, 5 ounce can
  • 3 tablespoons Tennessee Whiskey, or bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon steak sauce or even Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • Dashes of salt
  • Dashes of Black pepper
  • Dashes of garlic powder
  • Dashes of onion powder
  • Water to thin

Directions: This is easy – combine all of the stuff – except water - in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Now, depending on your definition of simmer and boil, your ketchup may end up being a bit thick – which is fine. But, in case you would like to thin it out - just add a few drops at a time. Don’t add too much or you might reduce your concoction into soup!

Note: Yes, you can grab some ketchup, barbecue sauce, and a shot of whiskey and cheat – but the flavor will not be as deep and your kitchen will not have that amazing aroma. - See ya at the Dinner table!


Kent Whitaker

Kent Whitaker, also known as "The Deck Chef," is a culinary writer and cookbook author. He's also penned Young Reader and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motorsports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill.

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