Product Review – Ministry of Smoke
By ABA Independent Reviewer Michael Rose.
Rod Duggan knows a thing or two about wood. He’s been splitting logs for over 60 years and is a proud product of the Australian country. In 1960 he had his first experience with low and slow barbecue and fell in love with it immediately. Over the years he’s travelled across the globe for work and had the opportunity to cook on countless pits. One his fonder barbecuing memories was a particular gig where he had to cater for over 300 people!
Fast forward to 2013 and Rod saw an opportunity to combine his love for barbecue and his passion for Australian woods and that’s when the ‘Ministry Of Smoke’ was born – A genuine wood provider that specifically caters to the Low and slow barbecue community (rather than being about fire places and heating).
The Ministry of Smoke source their hardwoods from Taprock Country (QLD) which is part of the Granite Belt. They say the Iron Bark in these parts is the best! The cold, dry and well drained soil of the region means trees grow much slower and this results in denser, heavier wood. Rod says he only sources one specific species of Iron Bark in the region but if the wood doesn’t meet his strict selection criteria, he simply won’t use or sell it. Period.
As for fruit trees, they too come from the Granite Belt and the Ministry will only cut them down at a certain point in the year. Rod makes the point that he does this only by the aid of one of his three chainsaws and that he cuts off the root himself, unlike some other providers. The wood is then seasoned on his property where the moisture content can be monitored (he carries a moisture reader with him at all times – that’s how committed he is) and it’s only available to buy when Rod says it’s ready – logs won’t be cut until then. It’s pretty obvious that he takes the quality control side of things very seriously and that’s evident in the quality of his product.
As for the range of woods they supply, Rod and his Ministry of Smoke have one of the largest you will come by including some rarer species (ask him about his “magic” Oak). All cooking appropriate fruit woods are readily available including Peach, Plum, Cherry, Apple, Pear etc. Heavier woods include Iron bark, pecan and several kinds of oak. All woods can be supplied in logs or chunks too depending on what you prefer. And should you want or need chips, Rod is only too happy to accommodate (he has a chipper on his property too). Also have a quiet word to him if you want to make up a secret blend of chips (as I have) for a Smokey project you might be considering – He’ll even give you some advice on what he thinks will work best.
Personally, my favourite wood from the Ministry is without doubt the Iron Bark, closely followed by the Pecan and Apple. But no matter what wood you source from the Ministry of Smoke you’ll know you’re getting some of the best wood this country can produce!
Find the Ministry of Smoke here
Otherwise catch up with Rod himself who you will find loitering around the various BBQ comps.