Interview With the Champs – Brant Williams of Piggin’ Whiskey
by Brian Walrath, MABA Board Member and Pitmaster for Brown Liquor BBQ
Back when my wife was in elementary school, she was the only female redhead in her class. Also in her class was the only red haired boy. All of their classmates thought it was meant to be that they’d be boyfriend/girlfriend based on this one big thing they had in common…as if it was destiny. At this point, you’re probably wondering where the hell I’m going with this and what does this have to do with Piggin’ Whiskey or even barbecue at all for that matter. Ok, ok, here’s the deal. When Piggin’ Whiskey burst onto the scene last year, folks took note. And when I met Brant and Josh in Fredericksburg this year, it was as if we were those redheads that shared a similar trait and were meant to forge a friendship!
Now, a lot of friendships are made while passing bottles of mysterious dark liquids aged in charred oak barrels. During the afternoon of Day one in Fredericksburg, it was as if a reunion was taking place. Sure, the comp season was underway, but it seemed just about everyone was finally together in Fredericksburg…and Friday the whiskey was being passed around liberally! This is where I sort of, officially, kind of met Josh and Brant. Finally Brown Liquor and Piggin’ Whiskey were united! We weren’t alone in our consumption of brown liquor and clear liquor coming out of mason jars (Yes, I’m looking at you Chris, Luke, Don, Mike, Chiles, Randy, etc…).
I’m sure Brant and I would like to blame our Day one results on this particular consumption, but Don Wallace of Life is Good But BBQ is Better was right there with us and turned out a fine finish on day one. I did learn one thing that night about doing a double competition for the first time…it’s REALLY, REAAAAALLLLLLLY quiet the night after the first competition leading to day two! My teammate and I walked around that night and not a light was on or anyone up except one, and only one team…that’s right Piggin’ Whiskey! Our friendship was cemented that night as we sat and drank and shared tales from day one for the next couple of hours.
Well, I hooked up again with the Piggin’ Whiskey boys at the Sam’s Club Harrisburg local qualifier in early June. And wouldn’t you know, they hit it big for their first grand championship. So I asked Brant Williams if he’d spend some time and answer some questions so we could get to know the team better and he obliged!
Brant Williams, Piggin’ Whiskey:
Thanks! It was very surreal, we were adding up who was going to win GC in our heads, like most folks do, and we were looking at each other saying, “Nah, there’s no way.” They called RGC and Josh says to me, “Wow, our pork must have been REALLY bad for us to not even make the top ten.” Before they called GC, they paused the awards for pictures of all the teams, and someone said to us, “Congrats on GC.” That’s the point we realized we might win, and I started getting really nervous. It was such a blur after that and it didn’t really hit us until the drive home. Honestly, we are still in shock.
NO! Haha, for 20 minutes after turn-ins we weren’t speaking to each other… I was disappointed because I didn’t feel like it was a top 6 cook and I really wanted to move on so we could have a chance to compete in Arkansas, all my friends and family are there. But as far as our cook, our chicken was under, ribs were ok, our money muscle shredded when we tried to slice it so we only entered pulled, and I thought our burnt ends were dry not to mention forgetting the finishing rub. We almost missed two turn-ins. Not a great example of how we normally cook. But of course the best, most flawless, cook we ever had was round 1 in Fredericksburg and that landed us 40th overall, so what do I know.
Let’s talk about Piggin’ Whiskey…tell us where you’re from, about your team name, your team, and your competition set up.
– I’m originally from Arkansas, I grew up in what I call the Crossroads of BBQ, Kansas City to the north, Memphis to the east, and Texas to the south. I competed some before moving to Philly but nothing serious.
-Josh is originally from South Dakota, but he lived in Kansas City for some years. Living there exposed him to competitive BBQ, but like me he never got that serious about it.
-The night we met basically turned into one big pissing match about which of us could cook better BBQ (Me! Haha!). I mentioned to him that I’d like to get a competitive team together and it was all down hill from there.
– Our team name: When I lived in Arkansas we had a Razorback football tailgating team called the Whiskey Pigs, that team name was taken, so we decided on Piggin’ Whiskey which seems to fit us a little better.
– Our Setup: A Backwoods G2 Fatboy named “Tim”, a tent and a 12’ trailer.
We have competed in a few random contests over the past couple years, but this is our first full year to compete.
What’s the best part about competition barbecue?
What’s the worst part about competition barbecue?
You seem to be competing a lot more this year…is that true?
Yes. Our first comp it was cold and rained the whole time and we placed middle of the pack, it was a miserable experience for no payout, we almost gave up after that. Our second comp was a backyard and we took home first in ribs, and the next couple we did pretty good with a 1st in Chicken and a Top 10 overall. So we decided to really ramp it up this year and see just how good we could do in a full season.
Ok, I always ask our winning pitmasters this…what’s the one tip you have for those teams to help them break through and win their first GC or up their game in competition BBQ?
Not that I think I’m in any position to give advice, but I have a mantra that helps me.
And most importantly, don’t over-think.
What’s in store for the rest of the year for Piggin’ Whiskey…the Royal, etc…?
We decided that in case our first GC was dumb luck, we had better take advantage and go to the Royal. We’ll be there so come by and see us! We also have our fingers crossed for the Jack. And of course we are hoping to make it to the Sam’s finals in Arkansas.
Speed round, one word answers only:
Favorite brown beverage? I’m a little disappointed you have to ask.
Friday night comp favorite dinner? Steak
Favorite contest to cook? Boo B Que
Boxers or briefs? Boxers
Low and slow or hot and fast? Low and Slow
MSG is… Delicious!
If I weren’t competing, I’d probably be _working on my honey-do list_most weekends.
Favorite species of tree? Pecan
If you could have one super power, it would be? Mind control, that way I could get folks to scrape our chicken skins.
Favorite mason jar flavor? Apple pie
Anything else to add before we sign off?
One last thing, I’d like to thank all the generous folks that we have met on the circuit, without their support and encouragement we wouldn’t be here. Specifically I’d like to thank a few teams that have helped us tremendously… Lo-N-Slo, Big Ugly’s BBQ, Finn’s Finest, Smokin’ Tex, and Philly Blind Pig. (And also, thanks to Brown Liquor BBQ for keeping us sober by drinking all our whiskey.) And finally, thanks to our sponsors: Stone BBQ Supply www.stonebbqsupply.com and Threadzone Custom Screen Printing www.threadzone.com
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Where exactly is South Dakanada?