The Templeton Rye Distillery, in Templeton, Iowa, is trying to create a revolutionary pork flavor. The founders of the distillery realized that since alcohol is used in meat marinades all the time, why not have meat that comes ‘pre-cured’? So they’re raising 25 pigs that will, hopefully, end up tasting like rye whisky. This is the first experiment of its kind, so there’s really no way of knowing how it’s going to turn out.
Now, if you’re imagining 25 pigs in a pen getting drunk on whisky all day, well, you couldn’t be more wrong. The pigs actually aren’t being fed any whisky at all. Their diet consists of a distinct feed that is mixed with the dry distillery grain from the whiskey-making process. That’s how they plan to infuse the flavor into the pigs’ meat. The swine are currently being cared for by Nick Berry, who has a Ph.D. in Animal Studies.
According to Berry, the pigs are purebred Duroc, which have a superior meat quality and are prefect for this project. He also said that the project is a natural combination for Templeton Rye and their home state’s animal agriculture industry. “I think it really falls in line with what their roots surround – whiskey making and rural Iowa and the Midwest,” he said. “This project really fits right in line with a lot of their history and heritage.”
Photo: The Des Moins Register
Keith Kerkhoff, co-founder of the distillery, said that they’ve already been getting several inquiries about the pigs from top chefs in the nation. “I don’t think we’re going to have any problem getting rid of the 25 pigs,” he said. They plan to hold a tasting in Des Moines, Iowa, in June, for the members of the Templeton Rye Bootleggers Society. After the event, they’ll be deciding where the meat will go. When asked about the inspiration behind the idea, he said: “We have a little motto here. My dad always told me, ‘Nothing good happens after 12 a.m.’ So, it seems like that’s when this idea was probably thought of – after we had a few drinks.”
Kerkhoff said one of the reasons for doing this is because it’s never been done before. “This is something somebody is going to do, and we want to be at the cutting edge of it, and I think we are,” he said. And he thinks that the project also sends a message that’s important to Templeton. “The whole aspect of giving back to your community, giving back to your state and producing something that creates jobs. It’s all about economic development.”
“I would say my grandfather was probably outside the law a little bit,” he added. “My grandfather was one of what we call ‘entrepreneurs’ during Prohibition, that made Templeton Rye. It got into the coffers of Al Calpone and that’s where it got the name ‘The Good Stuff.’” It certainly looks like the current generation of Templetons hasn’t lost the entrepreneurial streak!