Barbecue Sauce made from MB Roland Kentucky Black Dog

Disclaimer: I consider Paul and Merry Beth of MB Roland to be my friends and in my statement of ethics I promised to disclose when I am sharing one of my friend’s products and to only review them when it was truly something I really liked. While there is no review, one of their products does play a featured part in this post.

Minnesota is a cold place. We normally get snow until April. We get cold rains until mid June. And the threat of snow starts coming up sometime between mid September and the end of October. But summer? Summer is grilling season. Sure summer doesn’t last long, but that means that you just need to make the best of it. Every night from the Fourth of July until Labor Day the air in my neighborhood is filled with the smell of someone’s grill. It’s a magical time. 

Last week, I finished the last bottle of barbecue sauce from my last trip to Memphis. There is a barbecue place there that makes a sauce I just love and I stock up every time I drive through. In a pinch it’s available on Amazon, but I got to thinking that it might be fun to make my own. And of course, if I was going to do that, it would probably have to have some whiskey in it.

The idea of a whiskey barbecue sauce is not new. There are a ton of them out on the market. Go into any store and you’ll probably find two or three. The problem is that most of those are very sweet. I personally don’t care for sweet sauces. They just aren’t my thing. I like a sauce with a tad more tangy vinegar in it. Of course the first thing I did was look online. I looked at whiskey based sauces and most of them still looked too sweet. So I took a step back and thought for a minute.

A bourbon based sauce would be sweet to complement the sweetness of the bourbon, but what if I didn’t use bourbon? I started diggging through my whiskey shelves. When I pulled out the MB Roland Kentucky Black Dog I knew I had hit upon something. Black Dog is unaged whiskey distillate. The first step of creating it is to smoke the corn. And that smoke really comes through on the finished product. It is sweet, but hits you with a full head of smoke. I thought that this would be the perfect thing to build my sauce upon. I also grabbed some of their St. Elmo’s Fire, a cinnamon and cayenne flavored spirit to add a little heat.

The first step in making this was to see what it would taste like when I substituted it for bourbon in a whiskey barbecue sauce recipe I had used before and enjoyed. (I like this one from because I really like what making the whiskey reduction does for the sauce.) I tried it and it was pretty tasty. Still too sweet for me, but I could tell I was on the right track.

So then I got down to work and after some delicious trial an error came up with the following.

Black Dog Barbecue Sauce 

Makes about 1 cup of sauce. (All quantities are U.S. Fluid Ounces.)

Start by making the reduction: 

  • 4 oz MB Roland Kentucky Black Dog
  • 1 oz MB Roland St. Elmo’s Fire

In a small sauce pan, bring the spirits to a boil and let reduce. When you are finished you want to have a little over a tablespoon of liquid remaining. Please supervise this step. You are putting flammable liquid over heat and you don’t want it to catch fire. Once you have the reduction finished, remove from heat and add the everything else to the sauce pan.

Everything Else: 

  • 3.5 oz Tomato Ketchup
  • 2 oz MB Roland Kentucky Black Dog
  • 1.67 oz Dark Molasses
  • 0.75 oz Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 0.5 oz MB Roland St. Elmo’s Fire
  • 0.5 oz Worchestershire Sauce
  • 0.5 oz Dijon Mustard
  • 0.5 oz Tomato Sauce
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Pinch of granulated garlic powder
  • Pinch of granulated onion powder

Stir thoroughly and bring back to a simmer. Let it reduce until it has reached your desired thickness. 

I’m really proud of this one. The sauce is sweet from the MB Roland spirits, ketchup and molasses but tangy from the vinegar and vinegar containing products (ketchup, mustard, Worchestershire, etc). It has just the tiniest touch of spice and enough smoke to play really nicely with meat. 

This was pretty tasty on a burger, but where it really shined was on some pulled pork that we brought home from a local barbecue joint. I’m going to need to head back to Kentucky, I think. My bottle of Black Dog is almost empty. accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support, visit Thanks!