Jim Beam Beef Jerky, Stubbs BBQ Beef Jerky, and Frank's Redhot Beef Jerky.
"Duke's" is the nickname of Justin Havlick, the President and CEO of Thanasi Foods. As the story goes, back in 2004 Justin would smoke small batches of jerky using real smoke wood, using fresh ingredients from his kitchen, and slathered with a variety of popular sauces.
As a result, the Duke's line of smoked meats comes in a variety flavors, including those marinated in Jim Beam, Stubbs BBQ, and Frank's Redhot, which Thanasi already has brand licenses with. Duke's Small Batch Smoked Meats has been distributing to convenience stores since December 2012.
Angus beef, soy sauce, brown sugar, contains 2% or less of cane syrup, salt, apple juice concentrate, natural flavor, spices, beef stock, dried onion, dried garlic.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a lightly smoky, lightly sweet flavor. There's a light bit of saltiness noticeable, and a faint bit of saucy flavor.
The chewing brings in a light bit of natural meat flavor. There's a slight increase in sweet and there's a light touch of garlic and onion.
For being marketed as "small batch smoked meats" and labeled, "Original Angus", it seems to fit the billing. I do get a light smokiness off the surface of these pieces, and it seems to fit the "Original" description, with largely an ordinary, unremarkable flavor, and mild to the taste buds.
Otherwise, the flavor that seems to define this jerky more than any other is the combination of light smoky and light saucy. The saucy is like a very mild, watered down beef broth flavor. There's a touch of garlic and onion in it, and then lighter amounts of sweet.
It's quite mild, with no other pepper, ginger, chile, seasonings.
The natural meat flavors are also quite light, but still just enough noticeable to contribute to the overall flavor.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into small to medium sized chunks, strips, and slabs. There's also several small bits and fragments of meat.
It's largely a dry jerky with a lightly oily surface feel. Biting off chunks seems easy to do, and chewing is largely easy.
The chewing texture starts out stiff with a light bit of initial resistance, but breaks down easy enough. It takes on somewhat of a meaty feel, but tends to feel crumbly. By the time it's chewed down to a soft mass, it doesn't really feel like steak, but still has a meaty feel, just crumbly as if it were too dry.
I found some pieces with small spots of fat that didn't get in the way of chewing, nor add to the overall flavor. I found no streaks of gristle. I do, however, find a fair amount of stringiness in the chewing, but yet it didn't result in any unchewable wads of tissue.
In terms of clean handling, it's not. This jerky leaves a fair amount of oil residue on my fingers, enough to require a licking and wiping before touching the keyboard.
Thanasi Foods sells this Original Beef Jerky from its website at a price of $6.49 for a 3oz package. Shipping is free if you spend $25.00 or more. So, if you bought four packages, the cost works out to $2.16 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.16 per ounce price, it's a fair value. It has a basic level of snackability due to a satisfactory flavor, decent meat consistency, and fair chewing texture. Compared to other large national brands, it offers the similar snackability at nearly the same price.
This Original Angus Beef Jerky from Duke's Small Batch Smoked Meats offers largely a mild flavor consisting of a light beef broth flavor with touches of garlic & onion. There's a light smokiness and a touch of sweet over a yet another light natural meat flavor.
It has a plain flavor, much like what you'd expect from plain Jack Link's, though it's clearly better than Jack Link's, with a little more natural meat flavor and little more flavor overall. It's also a little more easier to chew than Jack Link's, taking on a bit more of a meaty feel, but it doesn't really resemble chewing a piece of steak like other gourmet brands are able to achieve. It's also rather oily to handle.
But if you like mild flavored jerky, with a touch of smokiness, that's easy to eat, this is what Duke's appears to embody.
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