Being a barbecue guy, I have always wanted to try Peg Leg Porker, both the restaurant in Nashville and this bourbon. Its creator is Pitmaster Carey Bringle, who lost his leg to bone cancer. Just like his barbecue, his bourbon is sourced in Tennessee, and has one very interesting characteristic: rather than undergoing the traditional Lincoln County process of being filtered through maple charcoal before barreling, this bourbon is filtered through Hickory charcoal made by Carey Bringle after aging but before bottling. This should be an interesting flavor experiment.
Peg Leg Porker bourbon comes in two expressions – an eight year old and a twelve year old. I got my hands on an eight year old, which comes in at 90 proof.
The color on the bourbon is bright copper, and on the swirl there are thick oily legs. I think this bourbon lost some color as it was proofed down from a high proof, or maybe the charcoal filtration did something. Legs are pretty thick for 90 proof though. On the nose, there is caramel and vanilla and smokiness. On the palate, it is definitely George Dickel, but really good George Dickel, with some lovely corn syrup sweetness (from the very very low rye mashbill Dickel generally uses), but there is a smokiness and heavy wood tannin. It is really interesting. The wood tannin joins with baking spice on the finish. The finish is medium but remarkably clean, with a decrescendo to just having finished a cinnamon Altoid.
Each sip a take my palate does a double take – starts out like regular bourbon and then, oh, that’s different. It has a lot going on. The hickory charcoal filtering after aging really does add a lot to this bourbon. I can totally see how this would go great with a mess of ribs cooked slow and low. Sweet and smokey is the best descriptor of this bourbon.
This is really good. But it is really different. For such a low proof bourbon, it packs a ton of flavor. I am glad I pestered Hudson to get a few bottles at the Hokus Alexandria store since I discovered Prairieville was carrying it on the new Hokus Pokus app. I think it would be really something if more chefs and restauranteurs would do more than just barrel pick, but would work with a producer to make bourbons that really work with their food. Imagine bourbons that go perfectly not just with pork barbecue, but steak, seafood, Asian cuisine, not just because they happen to work, but because they were designed that way.
Peg Leg Porker bourbon is a preview of what that might look like.