If you need a gift for a whiskey lover, here’s an artisan Bourbon of note: Peg Leg Porker Bourbon, a brand created and owned by a pitmaster Carey Bringle, oft nominated for titles of “The Best BBQ.”
Peg Leg Porker Bourbon is the signature bourbon of an award-winning pitmaster, Nashville’s Carey Bringle. He is a lover of Bourbon and knows how well it pairs with barbecue.
He bottles it under the name of his restaurant‡. A few words about the resto:
Opened in 2013, the restaurant has been named one of the hottest barbecue places in the country by media outlets including BBC, Food Network, Garden and Gun Magazine, GQ, Southern Living Magazine, Texas Monthly, The Travel Channel, and many more.
The barbecue is known for its juicy, smoked to perfection pork ribs drenched with a spicy dry seasoning after being smoked. Playful sides like Kool-Aid pickles and pork rind nachos add to the experience.
As does the Bourbon!
Peg Leg Porker 8 Year Old (photo #2) was first released in 2015 and quickly gained popularity across its home state of Tennessee. It was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in the first year of its release.
Peg Leg Porker 12 Year Old (photo #3) was released in 2017 and quickly garnered an almost cult-like following. It was awarded the prestigious Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and quickly sold out.
Let’s take a look at this award-winning line of Bourbons, which are filtered through hickory charcoal.
> The different expressions of Peg Leg Porker Bourbon are below. But first…
Bourbon is an American whiskey made with at least 51% maize (corn) and/or rye, distilled twice in a continuous still and barrel-aged.
There are three main styles of Bourbon:
Following in the footprints of Scotch whisky‡‡ producers, there now are fine Bourbons that are aged for 10, 15, and 20 years.
The main difference between Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey is that the latter develops a sweetness as it is slowly filtered through large vats of sugar maple charcoal.
A straight bourbon requires that the distillate has spent a minimum of two years stored in new charred oak barrels. Most spirits are aged in re-used barrels; new oak is very expensive. It also imparts stronger flavor elements of caramel, vanilla, and coconut.
Peg Leg Porker brand is a non-distilling producer, which means that the whiskey is made by a distillery not owned by the brand. The brand then bottles and markets the whiskey.
You can find bottles at retailers in Southern states, and of course, at Peg Leg restaurant headquarters in The Gulch in Nashville, Tennessee.
There are numerous online vendors, including:
The first American whiskey* was named Bourbon after a county in the border area between today’s Indiana and Kentucky.
The county got its name to thank the French for their help in the Revolutionary War. The French royal at the time was the Bourbons (1579-1792), the whiskey was named for the county where it was produced, and the Bourbon casks were graced with the Bourbon logo. Bourbon whiskey soon became famous for its good quality [source].
The whiskey was first distilled in Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1789 by a Scotsman, and was called “American Scottish Whiskey” until the U.S. government officially adopted the name Bourbon in 1963.
While it has been made since the 18th century, the name “Bourbon” was not applied until the 1850s, and the origin of the name has been disputed by scholars (i.e., not named for Bourbon County*).
Over time, whiskey from the entire region was called Bourbon, but one of the quirks of history is that today there is no distillery left in the entire county! It is made elsewhere in Kentucky, and can in fact be made legally be made in any U.S. state, although it is strongly associated with the American South.
Tennessee whiskey is sometimes regarded as a different type of spirit but generally meets the legal requirements to be called Bourbon.
While the lion’s share of production takes place in Kentucky, many of the companies that own the leading bourbon brands are based out of state. We’ve listed some of the biggest at the end of this section.
During World War I (1914 to 1918) many distilleries were forced to switch their production from whiskey to gunpowder, and a double punch came with Prohibition (1920 to 1933).
Famous distilleries like Beams had to convert their factory to building buses, while other distilleries, such as Early Times, managed to maintain an “emergency operation,” producing for medical purposes [source].
But after the Second World War, spirits distilling in the U.S. grew at an astounding pace.
Today, connoisseurs are moving away from mass-produced products like Jim Beam or Jack Daniel’s‡ to limited production small batch and single barrel Bourbons.
In 2019, Kentucky distillers produced 1.7 million barrels, taking the total number of casks currently aging in the state to 7.5 million.
Even using conservative calculations, that’s enough to fill more than 1 billion bottles—or mix at least 13 billion Old Fashioneds [source].
The Top 10 Best Bourbons, according to WikiliQ, follow. You can see all of their Top 100 Bourbons here.
*One posit is Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a major port where shipments of Kentucky whiskey were embraced as a cheaper alternative to French Cognac. See a longer discussion in Wikipedia.
†Tennessee whiskey is a product identical to Bourbon in almost every respect. The key difference is that Tennessee whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal, which provides a unique flavor and aroma. Bourbon does not go through a charcoal mellowing. Jack Daniel’s is the leading example. Historical note: Jack Daniel’s is the oldest registered distillery in the States, registered in 1866.
‡Peg Leg Porker, the restaurant and the Bourbon, is actually a nickname for Bringle himself. At age 17 he triumphed over cancer, losing leg in the process. Hence, the peg leg, and porker for his BBQ passion.
‡‡Whiskey Vs. Whisky: The Scotch spell it Whisky, the Irish spell it Whiskey, and most American producers spell it Whiskey.