I have made and eaten quite a few BBQ sauces in my short life and I have had a job for a few years now where I am constantly given open ended challenges and no clear instructions. As a result, I have found that there is a sort of simple concept behind barbeque sauce--ALL of them. It is the key to cutting through everyone's nonsense grandpappy recipe or regional secret ingredient hokum.
All BBQ sauce, as the american south knows it, is a tomato sauce balancing 4 tastes:
Depending on where you go, the balance is shifted one way or another--Kansas city, sweet and tart, Texas, pungent and smokey, Carolinas, smokey and sweet. You have to have all four, and if you balance the four right down the middle, you end up with a least-common-denominator sauce that will be passable to everyone and beloved by none.
It also is totally personal preference. There is a guy here in Fort Worth who locals treat like some kind of food genius because he sells a bbq sauce that is Carolina style, and these Texans feel it is just so crazy and new and different!
Then there's other things like how thin it is, whether you start with ketchup or not, if there's floaters in it like onions or peppers, or if you should put fruit in it like pineapple, or how you get the smoke flavor. But I've found this to be universal in the structure of bbq, and people could save a lot of time trying to describe and understand and relate different sauces by just remembering to focus on those four--and now get distracted by the bourbon or the paprika or the temperature.
As for me, I go for pungent and smokey, because my favorite bbq is beef ribs. I like to start with a mild mannered ketchup--nothing too sweet or tangy(that means no HFCS)--or tomato paste and water, thin it down a bit(with water, sometimes a little whiskey, sometimes meat drippings if available), and then add a little apple cider vinegar for my tartness, but I only like a very small amount, just to brighten it up. Then my sweetness is all from molasses. I add the smokey from smoked paprika and liquid mesquite smoke. My pungency is cayenne, cheap pepper, and raw garlic. I also like worchestershire sauce in it.
I'll do it different for different foods, a little more of that caramelized sweet for brisket, thinner and sweet/smokey for pulled pork, etc. Makes life a lot easier to have the concept in your mind when trying a new place, having to improvise or(as I often find myself doing) fixing other people's sauces.