By Dawn Yankeelov
Bourbon Barrel Foods sees a blockbuster Valentine’s Day this week, in part, because consumers like you, in Louisville and Southern Indiana, shopped online this weekend for that gift that says “Kentucky.” Matt Jamie, founder and CEO, of Louisville-based Bourbon Barrel Foods, notes that people get very specific in their online gift searches, typing in “artisan soy sauce,” and chefs across the country are also right there with the local shoppers. He says 18% of all orders in 2011 were from chefs, sharing with fellow restaurant owners, and spreading the word. “As a former chef,” says Jamie, “that’s very rewarding.” Recipes like Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt Caramel intrigue those surfing the web for party ideas and the niceties that can make February the “love month’ at home.
Bourbon Barrel Foods has expanded its line in recent months with even bourbon barrel furniture, particularly stools, winning a Best of the South Award for its bar height-milking stool and table, in Garden and Gun Magazine.
If you are still hungry for that unique Valentine’s catch, all the William Sonoma stores carry the products, he pointed out, amongst other retailers. You can also find on the Bourbon Barrel Foods site, a search box for a retailer location map.
While November and December make up 40% of all their sales each year, the company experienced a 128% growth rate in 2011 with 6 people now employed. All the soy sauce is made here and co-packed here, and all product lines are expected to see 30 to 40% growth this year. Attendance at trade shows like the NASFT Winter Fancy Food Show in January in San Francisco expands the messaging about new offers like Kentucky Pure Cane Sweet Sorghum, and Woodford Reserve Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette. Woodford Reserve Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette salad dressing combines the finest Kentucky cane sorghum syrup with the many delicious flavor notes of Woodford Reserve, Jamie said. A farmer in Montgomery County, Ky., grows sorghum for Bourbon Barrel Foods—what Jamie refers to as an “endangered Southern crop.” Less than a million gallons a year are produced.
Who is using this product in the world of chefs, in places you discover? Locally, Edward Lee (610 Magnolia) Anthony Lamas (Seviche) and Bobby Benjamin (Seelbach), as well as Sean Brock, the chef at Husk in Charleston, featured in Bon Appetit as the Best Restaurant of the Year, and even special burger joints, like Yeah Burger’s Richard Blais in Atlanta.