Savor Bourbon & BBQ in Benson, NC

Should your travels bring you along I-95 through North Carolina, don’t miss the chance to explore the hidden gem that is Johnston County—affectionately known as JoCo to those in the know.  Here you’ll discover culturally-rich festivals, one-of-a-kind craft beverages, trendy boutique stores, and award-winning barbecue. Explore the rural roads just off the interstate to experience laid-back, small-town vibes, like those found in Benson, along with a rising food and drink scene.

Broadslab distillery in Benson, NC.

Nestled in the southern part of JoCo, you’ll find Broadslab Distillery in Benson. Operational since 2015, it’s run by Master Distiller Jeremy Norris, a craftsman deeply rooted in the age-old art of moonshining. Norris recently unveiled a brand-new offering: flue-cured bourbon. This patent-pending, uniquely-processed product has been in the works since 2021. 

Norris and his wife Shelly have a lineage of crafting genuine, small-batch moonshine, thanks to a family recipe that has been passed down for over a century. Beyond moonshine, they’ve expanded their portfolio to include exceptional bourbons and rye whiskeys, all meticulously produced in small batches with non-GMO grains. Imagine barrels of whiskey hanging out in a tobacco barn during the leaf drying stage. The combo of intense heat and tobacco aroma creates a distinct, one-of-a-kind aging process. 

Benson's Broadslab Bourbon and Whiskey product lineup.

Feeling like an extended visit? Norris offers overnight options right near Broadslab. You can choose between Happy’s House and the Baccer Barn, both bookable on AirBnB.  

Broadslab is a highlight on JoCo’s Beer, Wine, and Shine Trail—an epicurean journey that showcases the region’s locally-owned breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Cruise through downtown Benson as part of your adventure. Fainting Goat Brewing in downtown is also on the trail. Pop into local shops, snag some gluten-free goodies at JP’s Pastry, and indulge in waffles with Cornerstone Cafe’s all-day waffle menu. On the subject of trails, JoCo offers not just physical trails for biking and hiking but themed ones too, highlighting local eats like BBQ and even red hot dogs. 

Burnt ends at Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson, NC.

In JoCo, BBQ is serious business. You’ll find classic Eastern-style chopped pork with vinegar-based sauce at spots like White Swan and Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q. Or mix it up with creative takes from Low and Slow Smokehouse and SoDoSoPa to Redneck BBQ Lab. A comprehensive BBQ Trail Map is at your disposal to guide you through the entire epicurean landscape. 

Before you depart, ensure you bring a piece of JoCo back with you. Whether it’s a bottle of Norris’s new bourbon or some Redneck BBQ Lab rubs and sauces. You’ll also find local honey, grits, and more artisanal goodies across the county. 

JoCo and Benson promises an elevated gastronomic experience that pays homage to North Carolina’s culinary traditions. For both the weekend wanderer and the culinary connoisseur, JoCo’s marriage of bourbon and BBQ provides an unmatched experience that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression. 

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