There are a lot of maple farms in Ohio and many choices as a consumer of pure Ohio maple syrup. Come visit Ashtabula, Geauga, or Trumbull County in March and you will see steam rising from sugarhouses on just about every country road. We know that there are mega-farms out there. HUGE maple syrup factories in Quebec and Vermont and we can’t beat them in the volume-price game. News Flash: WE DON’T WANT TO. Why play a game we aren’t going to win? So, we did what innovative farms do. We changed the rules of the game.
Bourbon barrel aged maple syrup is innovative. My 6th generation maple farmer DNA caused me to struggle with the idea of adding an “off-flavor” to our hard work. We spend hours and hours trying to prevent off-flavors. By definition an “off-flavor” is a flavor in the maple syrup, that isn’t supposed to be there. Sometime it can be buddy late in the season or fermented due to bacteria – and of course, the large maple syrup factories will penalize you for these flavors. Off-flavors knock about 30% of the value off of the maple syrup. So, you can see why the maple farmers have been trained to avoid off-flavors. I’m not going to lie – I had a hard time “ruining the maple syrup”.
Who knew maple and oak would taste so good!? It tastes delicious. We did a lot of research to find the perfect flavor. Trial and error – the experimenting was fun. It does take months and months to get the oak flavor into the maple syrup. We found that the longer it sits on the charred oak barrels, the stronger the flavor. Too long, and it tastes like rocket fuel. Initially, we had too much bourbon flavor not enough maple. So much so – it just about burned your eyes. We later learned to curtail the bourbon flavor to allow the maple to come through. A perfect blend took some time and resources. But the final product was worth the investment.
We weren’t the first people to try making bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. Yeah, I was bummed out. Like in high school when I thought I came up with the riff to AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells. Shane had to break it to me. It bursts your bubble…..rapid deflation. So I did the next best thing. I wanted to make sure we had THE BEST barrel aged maple syrup. So, in order to make sure we had the best product we did some market research. I ordered product from the other three competitors and we did some analysis. Here is what we found:
They were all different. Some had an excellent flavor, some did not. Some were mass produced, some in small batches. Some had a great package – hand dipped wax and cork (we loved that). Some had a terrible flavor – like they just dumped alcohol into the maple syrup and called it barrel aged. (Are you hearing what I’m not saying?). We really liked one of the products. It had great flavor…..but it was factory made on high-speed bottling line….”just for you.”
Here is why we think ours is the best. We choose the perfect maple syrup before we put it into the barrel to age. We are really really good at tasting maple syrup and distinguishing the flavor profiles. We blend the batches to make sure the flavor is consistent between batches. Every barrel ages the maple syrup differently. Some of the barrels impart strong flavor and some barrels do not. That is part of the mystique of whiskey production. We hand dip each bottle top in wax and initial every bottle. We aren’t the only maple farm that is bottling Bourbon barrel aged maple syrup in the United States. We just put the time and resources into making sure ours is the best.