Eat, Drink And Be indie: Tasty Recipes, Inspiring Maker Stories & Exclusives

Bourbon Barrel Foods

Matt Jamie was studying for a masters in exercise physiology when he realized what he really wanted to do was cook. So he became a chef instead. One day, in a bar drinking beer and eating oysters, he got to thinking about the artisanal olive oil and coffee trend. And something hit him: soy sauce! Now he’s making the only small-batch, micro-brewed soy sauce made in the U.S. 

Jamie uses Kentucky-grown, non-GMO soybeans, soft red winter wheat from a downstate farmer (the kind used to make bourbon), yeast, and limestone-filtered spring water. This mash ferments and ages for a full 12 months in barrels repurposed from local distilleries (legally, they can only use the barrels once to make bourbon). Then it’s pressed, filtered and bottled in his old converted Louisville factory. Jamie’s father Ken handwrites the batch and bottle number on every label – nice touch.

The soy sauce has a meaty, brothy flavor with added hints of oak and charcoal. He didn’t intend for his bottle to become a Bourbon Country souvenir or famous with national chefs, it just happened.

He branched out to unleash a line of fresh, earthy seasonings and blends that are smoked over wood from barrels that once aged bourbon. His bourbon-smoked spices are popular throughout the South – just about every renowned chef is cooking with Bourbon Barrel Foods in the kitchen.

Jamie’s take on local: “I live in Kentucky, so why not use what’s here?”