The first review on Duke’s will focus on a 3.15 ounce/89 gram bag of their honey bourbon flavored beef jerky. This bag was purchased at a convenience store in late December 2014, while visiting Kearny, New Jersey.
The Duke’s brand of beef jerky is distributed by Duke’s Meats. The Duke’s jerky brand name was started in 2004 by Justin Havlick, aka “Duke”. Their jerky is advertised to be made in small batches, and is smoked using real hardwoods, not “liquid lumber” in their words. This jerky brand is actually manufactured by Thansi Foods, LLC who are based out of Boulder, Colorado. That technically makes this jerky a stock recipe.
The beef used is not guaranteed to be free of growth hormones or additional antibiotics. Also, the beef is not guaranteed to have at least partial free range access to graze on grass. As a result, the highest ingredient rating that can be awarded is a Good (8/10) rating.
This liquid marinade consists of honey, water, Jim Beam bourbon, and maple syrup. The quality of honey can vary widely, where most big commercial brand names barely even resemble honey with so much pollen content removed. Pure maple syrup offers some health benefits, but should be eaten in moderation.
Jim Beam Bourbon is not what you would call healthy, but there is almost no alcohol content left after the drying process. There are healthy ingredients used such as spices, dried onion, and dried garlic.
The sugar level is respectable at only 3 grams of sugar per 28 grams of jerky. The salt level is also quite respectable at only 220mg of salt per 28 grams jerky.
As advertised, this jerky contains no sodium nitrite, or any other similar unhealthy preservative. Really, the only preservative used is salt. With further credit to Duke’s Meats, there is no MSG added.
These strips are sliced to a medium size and thickness, where the strips are quite uniform in size. The texture could almost qualify as soft and tender, which results in jerky that is easy to chew. There are no visible signs of fat on this jerky, nor any oily residue left on your fingers while handling this jerky.
The first taste detected is the sweetness. Being a honey based flavor, the honey taste comes across as mild. The brown sugar taste is mild also. There is a light smoked taste in the background, and the salt level is surprisingly light also. There is no bourbon flavor detected. These jerky strips do not offer a great deal of natural beef flavor.
I paid $6.99 for this 3.15 ounce/89 gram bag of jerky. That works out to $2.22 an ounce, which rates as an average price. This jerky is a decent deal for people who enjoy a mildly sweet tasting jerky.
This bag is unusual in that it is square shaped, as opposed to traditionally being in a rectangular shape. Everything is imprinted directly on the front and back, and there are no labels affixed.
The Duke’s logo has a high resolution quality picture of Justin “Duke” Havlick. Their slogan is “Small Batch Smoked Meats”.
Some facts printed on this bag are “All Natural”, “No Artificial Ingredients”, “Minimally Processed”, “Recipe No. 2”, “No MSG”, “No Preservatives Added”, “Classic Style”, “Sliced Thin”, “Made in the USA”, “A Little Beam makes it better”, “For The Love of Jerky”, “In life, the simple things are often the best things. The same goes for smoked meats”, and “There are no secrets among friends in our kitchen. So when people ask us for our ‘secret’ recipe. We are happy to share.”