Make the barbecue rub: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir or whisk to mix. Transfer to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light. The rub will keep for several weeks.
Make the cider squirt: Combine all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer the squirt to a spray bottle and use right away or refrigerate. Use within 2 days of making.
Make the sweet and smoky barbecue sauce: Combine all the ingredients through the cloves in a large, deep, heavy, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until all the ingredients are dissolved, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ketchup and bring to a boil, stirring well, as the ketchup has a tendency to spatter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat and gently simmer, uncovered, until dark, thick, and richly flavored, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often. Use right away or transfer to jars, cover, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for several weeks.
Make the ribs: Remove the papery skin on the back of each rack of ribs by pulling it off in a sheet with your fingers (using a corner of a dish towel to secure your grip), or ask your butcher to do it. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with the rub, rubbing it in with your fingers. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Set up a smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions, and preheat to 250°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer. Place the ribs, rounded side up, in the smoker. Smoke until cooked, 3 to 4 hours.
After 1 hour, spray the ribs with Cider Squirt, and spray again every hour. The last half hour, brush the ribs with half the barbecue sauce. (Omit this step if you opt the optional step.)
When the ribs are ready, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the b ones by about ½ inch. The meat will be so tender, you can pull the ribs apart with your fingers.
Optional step: Set up a grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate. Brush the smoked ribs with half the barbecue sauce and direct grill for 2 to 4 minutes per side to sear the sauce into the meat. 5. Serve the ribs on a platter, with the remaining sauce on the side.