Diva Q Teaches Us The Keys To Barbecuing With Whiskey - Exclusive

Danielle "Diva Q" Bennett comes from a long line of strong females with solid culinary skills. "Both my mother and my grandmother are kickass strong women," the pit master spilled in an exclusive interview with Mashed. "My mother was a scotch and water drinker and my grandmother was a whiskey drinker. I inherited both of those things, naturally."

Bennett put her culinary inheritance to good use. Soon after she started on the BBQ competition circuit — well before she'd become "Diva Q" or racked up a medal collection that earned her the title "keeper of the flame" — she became famous for her love for whiskey, in particular. 

"I was well known for always having a really good selection of whiskey," Bennett remembered. In those early years, she'd sit late into the night at fire pits with the likes of Sweet Baby Ray's Dave Raymond, whiskey in hand, drinking in BBQ knowledge from the masters. These days, Diva Q doesn't compete much. Whiskey, however, is still an important part of her repertoire, especially when barbecuing. Most recently, the goddess of barbecue has teamed up with WhistlePig Whiskey to play with adding "layers of flavor" to her award-winning barbecue recipes. These are her two unbreakable whiskey-barbecue ground rules.

Here's how to mix BBQ with whiskey

Which whiskey should you pair with BBQ, really? While lower-quality cooking wines may serve their purpose, when cooking with whiskey, don't try to cut corners. "First and foremost, if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it," Diva Q told Mashed. "I love to create sauces. I did a whole bunch of recipes for some sauces and if I wouldn't put it in my lips as is, or in a cocktail and enjoy it thoroughly, then I would never use it with a recipe. I make lovely, delicious sauces using really high-quality whiskeys." 

Second, says Diva Q, there may be no one-size-fits-all whiskey or bourbon to meet all your recipe needs. "It really is all about a balance. If you have something that's lovely and lush, make something that either you're going to be liking the creamy notes of it or the caramel notes of it," she advised. "I would [also] always recommend [that] people should experiment ... Experiment with different flavor profiles because if you pick, for example, a spicy rye to make a barbecue sauce versus a blended whiskey, you're going to end up with two very different finishes."  

One of Diva Q's favorite whiskeys is WhistlePig SmokeStock. When you pick up a bottle of SmokeStock, you'll find more recipes and discover how SmokeStock is crafted via a QR code on the back of each bottle. SmokeStock is now available online and in stores for $72.99 MSRP per 750 ml bottle. Stay tuned for a line of must-have consumables from Traeger x WhistlePig coming later this fall!