Eat me: Bourbon Balls


I’ve been pretty hard on Kentucky (and Kentucky’s been pretty hard on me… ) but I want to be clear that there are many good things about the place. You just have to know what and where they are.

Case in point: Bourbon balls. Betcha didn’t even know bourbon had balls, did you? Well, it does, and they are delicious.

There are two main producers of bourbon balls: Ruth Hunt and Rebecca Ruth. Each has its loyalists. Ruth Hunt, the Official Bourbon Balls of the Kentucky Derby (I am not making this up) uses Woodford Reserve from Labrot & Graham; the latter uses Evan Williams. Both are worthy, but I like Rebecca Ruth just a smidge better. Some of you may already know my propensity for bourbon and chocolate, so these are right up my alley.

Bourbon balls have a center of bourbon-infused butter cream, robed in dark chocolate and topped with a perfect pecan half. Different batches we’ve had over the years have varied in flavor from mellow vanilla-honey notes to white-hot booziness, depending on the freshness and, I guess, how sauced the confectioner was that day.

So what are you waiting for? Go order some! Heck, you can still get them for good old Dad.

One year ago today … I wrote a mash note to my wooden spatula. It’s even more worn down now!

  • Listen, I’ve been to Louisville and I don’t think you have been too hard on it at all.
    You haven’t.
    My personal guides, Woodford and Maker’s Mark, kept me in relative comfort but I bet having some bourbon balls on hand would work nicely too. Sounds yummy.

  • If a fish can have a LOIN [gesture here], then I am sure bourbon can have balls.

  • Kevin: Ain’t nothing a little chocolate couldn’t help. But yeah, the bourbon doesn’t hurt.
    Anita: 🙂

  • Kate

    I stumbled onto your blog via Tastespotting and it really cracks me up. I’ve lived in Lexington, KY for about 8 years–but my husband & I are both from elsewhere. I read all about your trip to KY and it’s all so real…so true. I enjoy a good pork BBQ at times, even some fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and all that comes with it…but if we’ve been eating out a lot I absolutely LONG for fresh veggies, un-fried foods, something interesting AND healthy. I can’t tell you how much we miss things like Italian bakeries, bagel shops (I’m actually thinking about opening my own…), NY-style delis… And I am jealous just imagining all of the options that you have in San Francisco! To be fair–we do have an excellent Farmers Market in Lexington and a growing number of non-chain restaurants, so I do think things are changing. But it’s a slow process. I’m glad you found Lilly’s. There are some very good restaurants in downtown Lexington, if you make it here on one of your trips to KY.

  • Never heard of them but I bet I could eat a whole box. And for some reason, Kentucky intrigues me–I’m dying to go there.

  • Kate: DPaul’s parents actually lived in Lexington for a few years, and we loved it there. Didn’t get to explore the dining scene too much, though, but we did have a nice meal at Emmett’s. Not sure if it’s still around. But I think Lexington is a charming city, and I love the environs as well.
    Lisa: See above — that really is the best part of the state to visit.

  • Kenny Chesney

    If you like bourbon balls you will love lamb fries or turkey fries.

  • Perhaps if they soak those lamb testicles in bourbon, sure.