These last 2 days I packed more Amber and more Dark maple syrup to keep inventories up for sales demand. December sales were my best ever, and so far this year sales, while slower have been good. I have a good stock in Amber, Dark and both sizes of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.
I have another batch of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup almost ready to pack too. Since I introduced that product back in 2017 it has truly been a winner. In the beginning I had reservations about taking perfectly good maple syrup and putting it into recently emptied bourbon barrels to age. When I first started bottling the finished product I got lots of single bottle sales. Then shortly after I started getting quite a lot of multiple bottle sales (at that time I only offered the 200ml (6.76 fl oz) size).
Then about a year later, I decided to also offer a larger size, a 375 ml (12.7 fl oz). Most customers usually bought 1 of the smaller size for the first time they tried the product but repeat sales ended up being about half and half for size. I later added the possibility of (at discount price per bottle) for customers to buy whole cases of the bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. While only a few have bought whole cases, I have sold some that way. The 6.76 Fl Oz size comes 24 to a case and the 12.7 Fl Oz size comes 12 to a case. After the first year offering bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, my sales have been over 50% in that product (in dollar sales) in 2018 and 2019 and it looks to be over 50% in 2020.
I have had a few customers tell me they have had bourbon barrel aged maple syrup from other producers, but they like the perfect balance of flavor between the maple taste and the bourbon taste of mine. I contribute that to the fact that I don’t empty a barrel as it’s aging by the calendar, but more by taste. As it’s time gets near we open the oak barrel and draw a tiny sample to taste, if the taste is not perfect, we hammer the bung back in and test it again in 1-2 weeks. We only pack it when the taste is perfectly balanced. I feel this attention to detail gives us the best product possible.
Little or no alcohol in our bourbon barrel aged maple syrup
We end up with little or no alcohol in the bottled product. While the oak bourbon barrel had alcohol in it, and some of the maple sugars fermented while aging our process eliminates most if not all of the alcohol. When we empty a bourbon barrel , the aged maple syrup is pumped into a large piece of equipment called a finisher (2′ x 6′). We then heat it to about 200F, shut it off and let it set, even though the pan is covered evaporating alcohol escapes. Then 16-24 hrs later we again heat the aged maple syrup to 205-210 and at that point we send it thru our filter press, which removes all traces of the char that came from the inner surface of the barrel (the char is what gave the bourbon it’s color). The syrup is pumped thru the filter and sent to the bottler. The bottler is a water jacketed device that holds up to 18 gal of syrup, and is surrounded by water. The thermostat maintains a temperature of 186+/-1 degree F. There we let it set overnight, and if any alcohol remains it evaporates off. Then we are ready to bottle the finished product, but our first step is to taste a small sample of the syrup to confirm it meets our standards. So far this has worked perfectly.
For those interested in the alcohol, sorry we will not change our process that has proven to be perfect. If you want a little kick, add your own bourbon .
In other matters, the new season will be upon us soon, might start in a week or 2, it all depends on the weather. We had lots of warm weather the last 6 weeks, but not enough freeze thaw cycles, those are needed to improve the sap sugar content. This weekend we likely will see the coldest temperatures of the winter. We have so far been doing repairs on the tubing that collects to sap. I think a week or 2 will give us the sap sugar we want. At that time, we will tap and start collecting the maple sap and prepare it for boiling into our tasty maple syrup. We are hoping for another great year.