Beef and bourbon. Bourbon and beef. No matter how you say it those two words are magical. So it’s only natural that people who make beef jerky would create products that feature bourbon. One only needs to visit the Jim Beam American Stillhouse to find out just how big of a market there is for bourbon flavored jerky. Jim Beam jerky to be exact. So when the folks at Duke’s reached out to offer us some samples to try of their Honey Bourbon Beef Jerky and Bourbon Glaze Beef Steak Strips we were glad to accept.
As you read my Duke’s beef jerky review below please keep in mind that I am by no means a beef jerky aficionado. I enjoy beef jerky but typically rely on others to bring it to events or on road trips. I think I’ve purchased less than 5 bags of it in my lifetime. Just something to consider as you read through my tasting notes.
Duke’s Bourbon Glaze Beef Steak Strips
Opening the bag you’re immediately hit with notes of brown sugar, salty soy and of course, beef. No real surprise there. Overall taste was extremely sweet and bland. Some might refer to it as mild but since I really couldn’t pick out any distinctive flavors other than ‘sweet’ I think bland is a better descriptor. If there was any flavor from the bourbon it was clearly overshadowed by the sweetness of the other ingredients. The strips were chewier than I expected and rather dry.
Duke’s Honey Bourbon Beef Jerky
Initial aroma was similar to the other jerky with the addition of a strong hit of honey. But just as with the Bourbon Glaze Beef Steak Strips the sweetness of the product was overpowering. I did pick up some honey notes but they tasted of chemicals – almost artificial in nature. The texture on this one was very good. The meat was tender, easy to chew and moist. But in the end, it was just too sweet. In fact, I wasn’t able to finish the sample because it was too sweet.
In summary, I think both of these products are too sweet and extremely bland. Everyone knows I like my bourbon to be distinctive and full of character and the same thing goes for food that uses bourbon. If it’s not distinctive, I can’t recommend it to my friends. Much like Jim Beam White Label, these jerky products aren’t taking any risks and as a result, won’t marginalize anyone by being too bold, too spicy or too unique. While they don’t appeal to my tastes I’m sure that many people will enjoy them, but I doubt they would ever say claim that the jerky excited their taste buds.
Let me know in the comments what you think of Duke’s Jim Beam products if you’ve tried them. Or share with everyone what your favorite bourbon jerky brands are these days. My personal favorite is Jerky Tracks. Created by a friend of mine and his sons, Jerky Tracks has a great distinctive flavor kick and their bourbon flavor is fantastic. (I may or may not have had an influence in its creation.)