Hickory Hollow Jerky is a brand of Hickory Hollow Jekry, LLC, based out of Eufaula, AL. It's run by a guy named Russ Robbins, who by day is a full time Baptist Minister, but at night runs Hickory Hollow, making and selling beef jerky through his own USDA inspected facility.
While Russ has been making jerky for over 30 years, Hickory Hollow Jerky has only been around since November 2008. Russ hand cuts every piece of jerky in the ancient tradition of his forebearers, random in shape in size, but consistent overall. He says he trims off all the excessive sinews and fat.
He does mostly beef, but will also do turkey and venison by special order. Hickory Hollow currently sells three varieties from its website, this Original, a Teriyaki, and a "Hot Shot", all of which I'll be reviewing over the next couple of weeks.
Beef round, soy sauce, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, water, corn syrup, potassium sorbate, garlic powder, black pepper, smoke flavoring added, spices, onion, worcestershire sauce, distilled vinegar, molasses, sugar, natural flavor, tararind.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, followed quickly by a combination soy sauce and worcestershire flavor, along with its associated saltiness.
In the chewing, I get a bit more definition from the soy sauce and worcestershire, but I also taste a light and smoky natural meat flavor. There's a bit of spice back there, probably the black pepper and garlic.
Overall, the primary flavor that seems to dominate this jerky is that combination soy sauce and worcestershire flavor. It's well identified on the surface flavor, but it becomes more defined in the chewing to where you can taste the qualities that make those sauces what they are.
The natural meat flavors seem to have the second strongest flavor. It's still a light meat flavor, but noticeable in the chewing. I found the meat flavor becomes more noticeable if I suck on the surface flavors first for 15-20 seconds, allowing the meat moisten up, before chewing.
Many of these pieces have bits or small streaks of fat, that seem to contribute a "beefy" taste to the meat flavor.
There's a fair amount of smokiness, not just on the surface, but in the meat flavor also.
The salt intensity seems moderate, enough to enjoy, but not too much to overpower.
The seasoning flavor is light, but it's noticeable back there. It has that familiar blend of black pepper and garlic.
Overall, what you're going to taste in this is mostly the combination of soy sauce and worcestershire sauce. You'll notice some light natural meat flavors, a fair amount of smokiness, and light black pepper & garlic blend.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced into strips of medium thickness, and lengths of 2-5 inches.
It's a dry jerky, but having a soft flexible feel. Biting chunks off these strips requires a little effort with some twisting and pulling, but overall still easy. Chewing is similar, requiring some effort, but overall not bad.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, with some rubbery chewing resistance, but breaks down easily enough. Once chewed down to a soft mass, it mostly has a steak-like chewing texture. If you suck on a piece for several seconds and let it moisten up, it takes on a more steak-like feel, similar to a medium cooked steak.
Many strips contains small bits and streaks of fat, enough to add an extra flavor to the meat, but not enough to spoil the flavor or make the meat greasy. I didn't encounter any gristle or tendon, but I still found some stringy sinews in the meat.
Otherwise, it seems fairly clean eating. Little residue picked up on my fingers, mostly just small bits of black pepper, and nothing flying off on to my lap or desk.
Hickory Hollow Jerky sells this Original variety from its website at a price of $4.00 for a 3oz bag. They'll tack on $1.00 for shipping. That's a total of $5.00 per bag, or a per ounce price of $1.67.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at this $1.67 per ounce price, this jerky seems to offer a good value. I get a good deal of snackability for its good overall flavor and steak-like chewing texture. The $1.67 price per ounce is about what you'd pay for the mass-market brands, but I think you're getting more snack value for your buck with this stuff.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Original variety from Hickory Hollow Jerky provides a good overall flavor with its blend of soy sauce and worcestershire. But it also provides a light amount of natural meat flavors, with a fair amount of smokiness. And then there's a light bit of black pepper and garlic seasoning in the back.
Add to that a good chewing texture, and I think it makes for an above-average jerky.
But I kept wanting to find some kind of "wow factor" or that knock-out punch of awesome flavorness that would cause me to assign a higher rating, but I never found it. I mainly kept looking for a stronger meat flavor, but only got that light taste.
Still, across all the soy sauce/worcestershire combo jerky brands I've had, this is one of the better ones, giving you that bit of meat flavor, but not overdoing on the soy sauce/worcestershire.
For my recommended beer pairing, go with a porter.
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