Pig On Pig (Crime?): McRib Meets WhistlePig Boss Hog Whiskey


December 2, 2020

Fred pulled on a McBib this week to revisit an old friend: The ubiquitous McRib sandwich from McDonald’s, a reoccurring “treat” for many Americans, including Mr. Minnick.

Fred, being one who is fascinated with whiskey and food pairings in general, decided to pair his sandwich with a WhistlePig Boss Hog Black Prince, a whiskey he feels was the best his late friend Dave Pickerel ever put on a shelf and was his Best Whiskey of 2017.

It was a Pig-on-pig pairing for the ages.

“That is good,” he says breathlessly after taking his first gigantic bite, sauce ending up on his hands and dangerously near his favorite ascot. “I am a sucker for the McRib.”

He explains after another bite or two that the key to the pairing is to take a sip of the whiskey while part of the sandwich is still in the mouth. Do the flavors in the McRib hold up to the Black Prince? Or does the high-proof rye cut through the sauce and wreck the experience?

When he consumed both at once, that hit the sweet spot for Fred’s impressive palate.

After a McRib box fell and knocked Fred’s WhistlePig over, he decided to pair yet another McRib (the man is relentless!) with a pour of classic Maker’s Mark. He chewed and stewed.

“I have to say, the Maker’s pairing is a little bit more on point,” he says. “Hands down.”

But Fred also explains during his tasting that the McRib is as much an old friend as a guilty culinary pleasure. Food is well known as being comforting based on life experiences – if your beloved grandmother made fried chicken for Sunday dinner, there’s a good chance you’ll have a soft spot for fried chicken.

For Fred, it’s about Grandpa Frank. Fred explains that Grandpa Frank wasn’t always there for his kids, but by the time he had grandchildren, he had come back to the family for a “second act,” one that made an impression on Fred.

“The best memory I have with my Grandpa Frank was in an Oklahoma City McDonald’s,” Fred explains. “He got me a McRib and we talked about baseball and football and what life was like for me as a 12-year-old. When I think of a McRib, I always think of that one great moment I had with my grandfather.”

Of course, for some, it’s just about the sandwich, which many will drive long distances to track down, often using the online McRib Tracker. Consider that Joey’s famous line in the sitcom “Friends” has stuck with pop culture to this day. Joey, in his excitement for the return of the infamous sandwich, declares, “Even the bones are meat!”

Actually, to call it “meat” is stretching things a tad. For one, the McRib patty is not made with rib meat. In fact, based on many credible reports, it’s actually a processed blend of “restructured meat product” in the form of a mixture of pork tripe, heart and “scalded stomach,” which is then mixed with salt and water. Extracted proteins then bind together all the ingredients and enable the stuff to be molded into any specific shape, such as a fake slab of ribs.

So, as I wrote many years ago in my assessment of the McRib, the phrase “meat origami” might be closer to the mark when labeling the sandwich. Hey, the McRib even contains an ingredient called azodicarbonamide, which is also used to make yoga mats and shoes.

Also, if you feel inspired when the sought-after sandwich returns – beginning today, the McTerror McRib will be available nationally – maybe don’t buy four of them, as Fred did. One should be enough, considering the nutritional details:

  • Calories: 480
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 45 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugar: 12 g
  • Sodium: 890 mg (!)

And maybe try a McSalad instead of the McFries that typically come with the McRib to, you know, keep your heart from exploding. But definitely include your whiskey of choice, be it WhistlePig, Maker’s or something else, as an accompaniment with your sauce-slathered “meat” slab. I mean, come on – we’re not savages.

Kevin Gibson is a Louisville, Ky.-based author who writes about everything from food to beer to bourbon to the great city he calls home. In his nearly three decades as a writer, he has won numerous awards but doesn’t know where most of them are now. He is author of Secret Louisville, Louisville Beer and other books. He currently lives in the Clifton neighborhood with his dog, Atticus.