Umami in a Bottle

America's first artisanal soy sa

There are plenty of American-brewed soy sauces out there: Kikkoman bottles some 25 million gallons annually on Wisconsin's Lake Geneva, and Yamasa turns out more than 1.7 million gallons a year at its Oregon plant. But our sushi and high-end Asian deserve a better condiment–and they can get it, thanks to Kentucky-based Bluegrass Foods, makers of America's first artisanal soy sauce.

Working in the back of an old Louisville factory, Matt Jamie combines non-GMO soybeans with locally grown winter wheat and ferments the funky mash in old bourbon barrels tossed out by Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve distilleries. The barrels are also used to make Bluegrass's Kentuckified Worcestershire Sauce.

The final product is lighter in color than your average sushi joint sauce, free of caramel color, hydrolyzed soy protein or any of the other additives that often go into commercial sauces. It's also more delicate in flavor, making up for what it lacks in saltiness with a deeply earthy, umami character and the slightest hint of bourbon sweetness. Kentucky Bluegrass soy sauce won't put much of a dent in fried rice, but it's exactly what sashimi wants.

Bluegrass Soy Sauce is $5 for 100 ml at bourbonbarrelfoods.com