If you, or someone you know, is in the market for a premium gas grill for the garden this summer, then read on. Could the new range from Whistler Grills be the one you should choose?
This review is of their top of the range Bibury 5 model and will help you to answer some questions you may have around this, and any of the Whistler Bibury range.
Heavy. That was my first thought. Heavy in a good way but also heavy in a ‘how do I get this off the crate and into my garden?’ way. These Whistler Grills come well packaged and well protected on the delivery crate so you know it will arrive with you safely. It may well be that if yours is coming from a dealer, it may be delivered in a different way, but here I was, looking at a very heavy piece of outdoor cooking equipment, scratching my head about how to get this beautiful beast across my lawn and onto my patio area.
After roping in the muscles, also known as the wife, we just about got it off the crate between us but, after many days of heavy rain I knew that crossing the lawn would be a different story. So, if you see a little dirt on those lovely caster wheels in any of the pictures then go easy on me. We managed to get the Whistler Grill in place, and it was finally time to step back and take a glance over at this magnificent looking grill. And it really is a lovely looking machine.
Lets start with finding out exactly where does all that weight come from? This 5-burner model sits at the top of the Whistler Bibury range, it’s a gas fuelled BBQ made from premium 304 grade stainless steel, and its thick steel too. Now that alone is worth some further investigation, and you’ll soon realise that not all stainless steel is made the same. A lot of grill manufacturers will go for the cheaper option of 430 grade, which is good steel don’t get me wrong, but 304 grade stainless is better.
As a premium grill brand, which is where Whistler Grills are pitching themselves, why not use the best that’s available to you? Well that’s exactly what Whistler Grills have done. 304 grade stainless steel is more durable, more resistant to corrosion, keeps its shiny appearance and also cleans up easier. A massive plus on a BBQ with all that hot fat flying around. And one other thing, the thickness of steel that Whistler Grills have chosen to use, it’s heavy and thick, no tinny pinging sounds if you tap this grill, just a nice reassuring dull thud that you get from some nice thick metal.
With this Bibury 5 model grill now in place, it was time to unpack it from its delivery packaging. When you are ordering from a retailer, your grill will already come 95% pre-assembled or they may offer a full assembly service as an extra. If not, there really isn’t too much to do to get up and running and ready to fire up.
After around 40 minutes on my own, all the packaging was off, grill plates were in, side tables attached, rotisserie rod holder attached on the back, gas regulator fitted and all the rest of the protective sheeting and cables ties holding various shelves and bits in place were removed. There are a very basic set of instructions to follow and anyone can get through these easily and be ready to cook.
But sadly, my time to cook was cut short as a snow storm was on the way. So, the full sized cover that’s included in the price was thrown over the grill and cooking would have to wait for another day. That was a hard call, this beautiful brand new shiny grill was just crying out to be used but alas, the cover went on to keep it safe as the snow fell. While we are here, lets just look back across some of the things I’ve mentioned above.
Full sized cover, rotisserie and heavy-duty smoker box, all of which come packaged up and included in the price of this grill. Some manufacturers are charging nearly £100 for a cover, up to £150 for a rotisserie and then an extra cost too for a smoker box and that all starts to add up pretty quickly, on top of the base grill cost. But with this Whistler model it’s all included. The only item I was sent, that was an additional extra accessory, was the stainless griddle insert which we will come onto later.
My main aim when testing any grill is to get as many cooks as possible done, testing all areas of the grill and using all the features. And that’s exactly what I did with this Bibury 5 model. Making sure I am confident in what I am writing, so that people know what to expect if they make the decision to buy the grill. With this in mind, I had already planned a variety of cooks to use the main grill at different temps, the side burner, the rotisserie, the warming shelf, the smoker box and the griddle plate. Also covering cooks from the simple family pleasers, up to the kind of showpiece cooks that a premium grill like this deserves.
So, let’s start by running over some specs on the Bibury 5 model. The grill is 304 grade stainless throughout as we mentioned earlier, this includes the stainless hood with built in Whistler Grills branded temperature dial, Removable stainless drip tray for grease management and clean up, 2 stainless drawers with soft close hinges, that’s right it has soft close drawers!
That’s more than on most home kitchens and is a very nice touch, just showing again the quality and attention to detail Whistler have used on this grill. I used these drawers for the storage of the motor for the rotisserie, the prongs for it, as well as the smoker box. There is also a main storage compartment that will fit a small gas bottle but, for my cooks I used a larger gas bottle kept outside of the unit which I personally prefer for safety reasons.
On the back of the storage compartment door there is a hanger than can be used to hold a roll of kitchen towel or similar. There are two side tables attached to the main body of the grill, the left side table has a covering lid which lifts and is housing an infrared side burner, this can be used to sear steaks on due to it’s high powered heat, but can also be used for warming saucepans etc too.
The dial for the side burner is located on the front panel of the grill and is clearly marked. The side table on the right is purely for worktop space and will easily hold a chopping board or other ingredients for your cook. On the front panel there is also a small button that when pressed really makes this grill shine, and I mean literally. When pressed a run of ice blue lights illuminate the front of the grill above the dials and it looks very impressive.
Keep your stainless cleaned and polished, and these lights reflect across the whole front of the grill and really makes it look like the premium unit it is. This is powered by a plug to the rear of the grill, however, this will need to be close to a socket as the cable is a little short. But well worth the effort to have it plugged in to see it lit up, and anyway you’ll need a plug for the rotisserie which we will come onto in a minute.
In total this grill has an impressive 99,000 BTU’s of power when you add up all 5 main burners, the side burner and the back burner for the rotisserie. Looking inside the grill you see the 5 main burners each controlled by their own dial on the front panel. Over the top of each burner there is a deflector that is designed to stop flare up’s and aid with even heat distribution across the whole of the grill surface.
In between each of the burners there is also a divider plate designed to keep the heat level you have chosen in that specific burner zone, meaning you can have a hot burner and a cooler burner running next to each other. There is a removable top warming shelf for adding food needing less heat to it as it’s further away from the heat source, and it can be removed when the rotisserie is in use. The main cooking grates themselves also add to the overall weight of this grill as the bars are super heavy duty thick 304 grade stainless. They heat up well and leave nice grill marks on your food at the higher temps.
Still inside but across the back of the grill you will see the rotisserie rear burner which gives you heat from the rear as well as underneath when you have food loaded up on the spit attachment. Cleverly, and again showing the level of this grill, there are 2 internal lights underneath the rear section of the grill at the top, helping you keep an eye on the food in the darker evenings, just make sure you clean them regularly to keep them shining brightly onto the grill surface.
Back outside there are pre drilled holes at either side of the unit just above grill level where, you can mount the brackets for the included rotisserie kit. The kit is pretty sturdy and comes with a one piece bar that runs the whole length of the grill. At one end you attach the motor onto the bracket which needs to be plugged in, and at the other you can attach a counter balance weight to offset any weight differences when the motor turns under load. In the middle you have your two moveable 4 pronged clasps for holding your food securely in place. As you can see from the pictures I fully loaded the rotisserie up and it ran well through the whole cook despite the weight.
To the rear of the grill there are two mounting brackets for holding the rotisserie bar when not in use. There are also heat shields across part of the rear section to help stop you touching the hotter parts. There is also a plug for the front lights as mentioned above, and a hole to feed the regulator out of if you choose to use an external bottle as I did.
As mentioned, the grill does come with a cover, this is a nice weight meaning not too light to just blow off the grill in any wind, but also not so heavy that you struggle to get it on. At either end there are velcro straps to help the cover be secured in place and stay there through even the strongest winds. The cover is black in colour with a nice red Whistler logo printed onto the front.
I was also sent the griddle plate which is an optional accessory with the grill. Again, and as you’d expect by now its very weighty being made out of thick stainless, to one side there is a cut out to allow fat drips to be moved off the griddle down into the grease tray. The griddle can be located on any of the three areas when you remove the grates, but the ideal position is the central section due to the location of the burners underneath.
Onto the cooks.
First up it has to be a chicken which is a go to for any new grill test, but for this cook I decided to go up a level with a skewered Peri Peri spatchcock chicken served with, buttered and seasoned corn on the cob, grilled aubergine with olive oil and lemon zest, some grilled sweet red peppers, some spring onions and some grilled lemons. Chicken is always a good test for a grill as it helps you check that all areas from leg to breast meat are all cooking evenly. With this cook, the crossed metal skewers further help to get an even heat into the thicker parts of the meat. So, you want the whole bird to cook up evenly without burning, and then towards the end of the cook you can increase the heat to crisp up the skin and get a nice level of char on it too. And as you can see from the pictures, the end result was as good as I could have hoped for.
With the burners down low on 3 sections of the grill, it created a nice roasting level heat under the hood without too much heat from below. I just kept turning the bird as required which is also made easier from the extra rigidity the skewers provide. Then towards the end of the cook the heat was increased and the chicken was basted regularly on both sides with a Peri Peri marinade as the skin crisped up. The vegetables were grilled up over the burner to the right of the chicken and again, no sticking on the stainless bars and you can easily balance the heat needed using the dials on the front of each burner.
For the next cook I knew I had to give that griddle plate a run with some tasty aged beef smash burgers. Nothing fancy and over the top here just a firm family favourite done in the best way possible, I simply oiled and seasoned the griddle to start with before cooking. Then added my weighed out aged beef and rolled them into balls to go onto the grill, seasoned the tops with a generous amount of salt and then smashed them down onto the griddle plate to get that perfect crust on each burger. To the front of the griddle you will find a cooler spot where the burners end, and this was perfect to grill up some fried onions ready to top each burger with.
When I flipped the patties I was happy to see a nice level of crust had formed, a quick season with salt on the other side then on with some cheese slices to get them nicely warmed and starting to melt. The buns were toasted on another burner straight on the bars then, it was time to build the burgers. In with the onions, buns on and then ready for a bite. A sure-fire crowd pleaser. The griddle plate gets really nice and hot; again it’s adjustable with the number of burners creating heat inside the grill and also directly underneath the griddle. This would also be perfect for other dishes that require or work better on a flattop surface such as scallops and some other fish, or even bacon and eggs for a breakfast for a BBQ breakfast.
The rotisserie had been sat there quietly packed away during the last two cooks but now was the first chance to give it a go, and what better way to start than with some churrasco style picanha steak carved straight off the rotisserie bar. Again, a nice simple cook but looked amazing on the grill and a good showpiece cook for family or friends. Simply arc the slices of steak onto the rotisserie bar, there is no real need to for the prongs here, but we used them to clamp and hold the meat where we needed it. Seasoned only with some coarse salt it was time to let it spin.
The back burner takes a longer hold of the button to let the gas travel to the back burner and, it can take a few clicks and attempts to get it lit but, once it fires into life you can immediately feel the heat it gives off, and with the rotisserie bar spinning it gives a nice even heat to the meat as it turns. While that was on, we prepped some garlic mushrooms to cook straight on the bars and topped them with parmigiano cheese and some pork panko crumbs for added crunch. In an oiled tray we added some diced and seasoned potatoes for some homestyle crispy potatoes to serve with the picanha. The result? Perfectly cooked beef with a nice crusty exterior, crispy fat and lovely pink middle. And as the picture shows we carved the steak directly off the skewer onto the board. Absolutely delicious with some chimichurri drizzled over the top and served with the potatoes and mushrooms.
As a bit of fun, we did a quick snack cook which involves taking a round crusty loaf, cross cutting the top and stuffing each slice across with garlic butter, grated cheese and some pepperoni. This just needs a quick bake on the BBQ to melt up the cheese and get the bread warmed. Simple but such a good sharing dish for family or guests. As you would well expect this was a simple cook for the Whistler.
Also, around the time of the Superbowl being shown on TV I did a US style hotdog cook up. These dogs are better simmered so I added a large pan over one of the burners and started to heat it up ready to add in the hot dogs. Rather than waste gas heating the water I did use hot water from a kettle. A quick simmer for the hot dogs to warm through, then it was time to finish them on the bars to get some lovely grill marks on them. Simple stuff but a fun cook nonetheless and handled with ease.
So onto my second to last cook, and one to really give that rotisserie a workout. I ordered in a large slab of pork belly from the local butcher, skin on that would be stuffed, rolled and tied and put on the spit for a porchetta roast. The counterweight and prongs were definitely needed for this cook. The weight is set to the opposite angle of the heaviest part of the meat to ensure the motor is able to turn smoothly with less stress. The prongs are slid along the bar and pressed firmly into the meat and tightened securely. This beast weighed a good 3-4kg so I knew it would be a good test for the motor on the rotisserie. Stuffed with a mixture of garlic, fennel pollen and lemon rind amongst others. The skin was scored and salted to make sure the crackling was as good as it can be. Due to the size of the joint it was cooked with a tray of veggies underneath, a burner on either side of the meat and the back burner off for now.
The porchetta cooked like this steadily for around 3hrs to make sure the fat began to render, and the middle was cooked all the way through. Once the meat was nearly cooked through after the 3hr mark it was time to crisp up the skin using the high heat from the rotisserie back burner. And it didn’t disappoint as shortly after getting it going you could see the bubbles start to form on the skin and blister up into nice crispy crackling. At this point though you do need to keep an eye on the meat to make sure it doesn’t start to burn. We also cooked up some more roasted veggies using the tray under the pork towards the end and served this up like a traditional roast dinner. Smiles all around from the tender and moist meat but also from that crispy crackling too. So much so that the neighbour was leaning over the fence, so it was only right to share some.
And then the final cook. I had been eyeing up that high-powered side burner as an absolute steak searing machine. So, another slab of picanha steak but this time cooked differently from before. This cook also gave me the chance to use the smoker box for the first time too. I simply removed the lid and filled the box with some drained off oak wood chips that I had soaked in water, then the box is placed over one of the burners on the grill at the lowest flame setting.
Soon enough the hood of the BBQ started to fill with whisps of smoke ready to add that smokey flavour we all love to the beef. You can add as many or as few wood chips as you like to adjust the amount of smoke and obviously use any type of wood you wish to add those smokey notes from apple, to cherry, to walnut or the oak I used on these steaks and many more. And the smoker box can be used for slow and long cooks or even for grilling up the quick family favourites.
For this picanha cook I went for the reverse sear method. That means indirect lower heat to start with, so I set the steak as one whole piece on an unlit burner and lit 2 burners (one at each end) on a low heat, one of which had the smoker box above it. I smoked and cooked the beef like this until I was closer to my internal temperature which I checked with a meat probe.
At this point I then removed the picanha, sliced into thick steaks and fired up the side burner. You need to leave the side burner running for a few minutes to really get the heat into the panel, but also to get those stainless bars nice and hot too. At this point I just laid the steaks on and you can immediately see the power the side burner has. After 45 seconds there was a nice sear on the underside and so the steaks were flipped to sear the other side too. Another 45 seconds and one final flip on each side for about 10-15 seconds each. The result was exactly what I had hoped for, a good hard sear on the external surface and the pink middle you can adjust to your own choice of doneness.
That concludes all of my test cooks on this Whistler Bibury 5 model and I was confident I had done all I needed to making sure I’d covered a range of cooks, some differing cooking styles and also used all aspects of the grill. For each cook I have to say I experienced no real issues and was happy with the results from each cook.
Conclusion. This is a premium level grill as this particular 5 burner model sits right at the top of the Bibury range, and as such there is a decent price tag attached to it. Meaning this grill won’t be for everyone’s budgets. But if you, a family member or friend are looking for an upper tier gas grill then the Whistler range should be in line for consideration amongst the competition. Remember these models are competitively priced in their market segment, and they also come with a lot more included at point of delivery than some other brands might. I was only able to use the grill for 6 weeks before writing this review and so my thoughts are based on short term usage and ownership.
Whilst I cannot comment on longer term ownership, I think the build quality and materials should keep you in good stead. The fact that Whistler offers a lifetime limited warranty goes a long way to showing their commitment to the quality of their grills. The fact that a cover is included in the pack with each grill means you can look after the grill against the elements from day 1. As mentioned, we enjoyed each cook learning about this grill and it’s features and we also enjoyed each meal we cooked on the Whistler. My main issues with the grill are all simple ones. Almost every gas grill I have cooked on has hot spots on the cooking surface, and whilst Whistler have done everything they can to minimise this, there are still areas in the grill that get hotter than others. All this needs is a little time and a few cooks to learn where the hot spots are so you can use them to your advantage to speed cooks up or avoid as needed. Again, with most gas grills you do lose some cooking real estate at the very front of the grill towards the dials.
The burners stop a few inches short of the grill edge meaning there is a cooler spot at the front of the grill. This can be a good thing to stop you burning your wrists as you reach onto the grill to turn food etc, but you can also place food here if it needs less heat. The rotisserie bar is a single piece which means you are probably better cleaning it outside than in your kitchen sink, as it’s quite long. The cable for the lighting is also quite short, so just make sure you have an extension cable or outside socket nearby. And finally, the stainless really is beautiful to look at, but to keep it looking it’s best you’ll want to keep it clean and that is something you may need to do regularly.
This model is a big grill, there is a lot of metal to heat up so expect to use a fair amount of gas, but also my review was written and shot in January and February during a snow storm so during the summer months this will be lessened. This is a stunning looking grill, would make a true showpiece on any patio or in any garden. Whilst you may not need a grill this big you should consider the other models in the range too.
The level of detail the Whistler team have put into this grill is impressive and shows their commitment to quality. The small touches like soft close doors and better stainless steel etc just show the reason why these premium segment grills command the price tags they do. Whistler Grills may be a new brand to the UK but they are certainly making waves with products like these. They also have a range of built-in units as well as outdoor kitchen fittings too.
Please head over to the Whistler Grills social media channels or their website if you require anymore information. Or you can also follow me and message on any of my own social media channels if you have any questions around the review.
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Advert. Paid promotion. Full disclosure. This review was paid for by Whistler Grills to cover the cost of ingredients, content creation and my own time. But I am still entitled and have given my full and honest opinion on the grill above.