Since 1966 Gary West Meats has been serving up smoked meats and jerky from its facility in Jacksonville, OR.
The company, started by Gary West, was established using the same recipes that have circulated through his family going back to the 1850s. The company is well known for making jerky that emphasizes the great taste of beef, using minimal seasonings, and grade A maturity beef, which is younger and more tender.
In 2004, West sold the business to his daughter and son-in-law who continue to operate it today. Since then, they have introduced new line of jerky made from Certified Angus Beef, and is the only company authorized to make it.
All of their jerky is hickory smoked and cut by hand.
Beef, brown sugar, tamari sauce, maple sugar cure, onion, ginger, black pepper, sodium nitrite.
There is a good amount of sweetness to be tasted off the surface of these pieces. That sweetness wanes away as I suck the flavor off and get into the chew. I can pick up some seasonings, with the onion having a stronger taste than the others. The natural meat flavors come on very strong.
For being a teriyaki variety, it has a great teriyaki taste. Most of the sweetness in the teriyaki, however, seems to fade away in the first several seconds. After that, the seasonings (onion, ginger, pepper), and the tamari sauce takes over. Tamari sauce, is just another type of soy sauce, but more mellow than common soy sauce. Ginger is of course a critical part of true teriyaki sauce; it gives it the slight pungent bite that contrasts the sweetness. I can in fact taste some ginger, but I only seem to taste it after the sweetness wanes away.
While the strength of this teriyaki's flavor tends to fade away after several seconds, there is still a weak teriyaki flavor that remains in the meat during the chew. But at that point, it's the natural meat flavors and the saltiness that dominates the taste.
The natural meat flavor has the same mellow, smooth, and buttery like taste that I've described in Gary West Meats' other varieties. But in this case, it's offset somewhat by the teriyaki taste that remains during the chew.
The saltiness I mentioned is noticeable, but I wouldn't call it "too salty" even though the 580mg of sodium listed on the nutrition label is rather high. There seems to be enough flavors in the teriyaki, the seasonings, and the natural meat flavors that tend to compete against the saltiness.
Overall, this is a very flavorful jerky, with a lot of flavors that I can pick up, and flavors that I really enjoy. I think the natural meat flavors that Gary West Meats is known for doesn't quite get the attention that it deserves in this teriyaki variety, mainly because the teriyaki flavoring offsets it. It would be best to first try Gary West's Traditional variety, just to understand what it's meat tastes like, and then try the teriyaki afterwards.
These are cuts of whole meat, sliced into strips of about 12 inches in length, and about the width of a beef stick. I broke the strip into smaller pieces for the photograph below.
This is largely a dry jerky, or perhaps semi-moist at best. The photos make it look very moist, but that's just the sweet glaze on the outside. I find it easy to bite off a piece, and even easier to chew. You wouldn't want to chew this right away, you'll want to suck on it for awhile and enjoy the flavors.
I found no bits of fat, tendon, gristle or anything chewy.
Overall, this has a great meat consistency for enjoying a flavorful jerky.
Gary West Meats sells this Cracked Black Pepper variety at a price of $4.50 for a 2oz package. That works out to a price of $2.25 per oz, making this an expensive buy. You can get that price down to as low as $1.63 per oz, if you buy their larger sized packages.
For general purpose jerky snacking, this is perhaps too expensive, except if you bought the larger sized package to get the price down to $1.63 per oz. In that case, it's a great value for the great taste, great meat consistency, and awesome snackability.
As a teriyaki variety, it's the same story. It has a great teriyaki taste, but not great enough to warrant the $2.25 per oz price. Only if you bought this in larger quantities, would it become a excellent value.
If you just want to enjoy the great natural meat flavors that Gary West Meats has to offer, it's still a weak buy only because the teriyaki flavor and seasonings offsets the meat taste in this. You're better off getting their Traditional variety.
But if you just want to try some awesome teriyaki jerky, go ahead and buy the 2oz package.
I'm giving this a best rating.
This teriyaki variety from Gary West Meats has an awesome flavor with its great teriyaki taste, the seasonings, and the natural meat flavors, all in an excellent meat consistency.
The natural meat flavors, which are some of the best tasting I've tasted in jerky, are rather offset by the teriyaki flavors. Gary West Meats' jerky is perhaps one that is better with light flavorings, just to give the meat flavors more attention. But don't misunderstand me, this still has a great teriyaki taste, combined with its already great meat taste, and makes this a great jerky to enjoy.
Considering the sweetness you get from the surface of these pieces, I'd recommend a light tasting beer, such as a honey blonde ale.
Note: Originally reviewed Aug 30, 2008.
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