Likely next week I’ll be opening another oak bourbon barrel aged maple syrup after it aged to perfection and I’ll be putting it into bottles. One new size will be introduced. In 2017 I introduced the 200 ml flask (6.76 fl oz) bottle. It sold so well I added the 375 ml (12.7 fl oz) size a few months later. Now I’m adding a third size, just in time for gift giving. While lots of the first two sizes have been given as gifts, I wondered if a 100 ml size (3.38 fl oz.) might also be a winner, thus I ordered 25 dozen bottles in the new size (no going half way, besides I got a better price buying 25 dozen at a time). I’ll add the new size to my store once I’ve filled some of the bottles.
Since I first introduced “bourbon barrel aged maple syrup” back in Aug 2017 it has proven to be a winner. By the end of 2017 it had added up to 46% of my total sales, then 52% of sales in 2018 and 49% of sales in 2019. Then a pandemic hit the world and while the bourbon barrel aged maple syrup gained momentum in units sold, with so many people staying and working from home my sales of regular maple syrup gained more than the bourbon barrel aged gained. The sales of Bourbon barrel aged syrup then dropped to 41% of my total sales in 2020. 2021 sales won’t be determined until some time in Jan. but as I write this in late September it looks like the regular syrup totals vs the bourbon barrel sales may still reflect what 2020 ratios were. Both have gained again, but seem to be in balance with 2020 so far.
This new size may help that as even more people try the product, or gift them because the cost to try it is lower (per bottle, not per oz.) I see great results on the horizon! One thing I’ve gotten many comments on as people place an order on my website goes like this ” a friend/relative/ or other gave me a bottle of your bourbon barrel aged maple syrup and I now want to order some myself, what a great product!”) Christmas stockings may hang heavy with bottles of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup in them.
I have other things I still do. I still have my 4.5 acres of blueberries (and I’m adding another 1/4 acre next spring, another variety). For that I’ve rototilled the whole plot 2x since August 10, and I’ll do it again next week. After the second time I spread 400 lbs of sulfur to acidify the soil. I still need to add some underground drainage tile and run that to a roadside ditch. Then I need to re-dig that ditch to drain the water to a pond about 600′ down the road, and 50′ off the road. That pond over flows as needed and runs to a year round creek another 1500′ away.
Another thing I do is saw logs into lumber (only for my own use). To that end, I recently sold a sawmill I’d had since 2004 which could cut logs up to 48″ diameter and up to 21′ long. I replaced it with a sawmill that can cut 30″ logs and up to 16′ 10″ long. The new sawmill arrived July 29, and I’ve been so busy I only got about 7-8 hrs into assembling it. The old mill sat on the ground, the new one is mounted (or will be mounted) on a trailer so I can move it as needed, besides my brother might also use it on occasion, or I might saw his logs for him. I think I’ll resume assembling it in 2 days. I expect it to be finished in about 4-5 more hours. I was getting help from my 12 yr old grandson, but he’s now back in school and has football after school. He says he will help on Saturdays (most but not all Saturdays I suspect).
The new mill is a manual bandsaw mill, but I have an old excavator with hydraulic thumb to load the logs and a tractor with pallet forks to move the lumber to where I’ll stack it to dry.
My plans include building a roof over the sawmill with a small tool shed adjacent to house all of the tools and supplies needed to work the sawmill, and to house my saw blade sharpener and tooth setter. Also a 14 or 16×32′ addition on the side of my shop, which will house my tractor and a blacksmith shop. I also plan to build a storage shed about 12×16′ for my 4×4 ATV and some smaller equipment.
I packed syrup the last 4 days. To do it I had to aim a 16″ fan at high speed at me to keep from over heating. I still have about 7.5 gal more to pack (out of 90), all filtered and in the water jacketed bottler. From there, once I turn the heating element back on and the temperature gets back up to 185 +/- 2 degrees F, I’ll resume bottling. For that I sit on a stool in front of the bottler. Depending which size jugs I’m filling I put the appropriate spacers under the shelf that holds the jugs, then I step on a foot switch which opens the flow valve. When the jugs is full, I release the foot switch, put a cap on and then I lay each jug on it’s side for at least 30 seconds. When I either done packing that size jugs or until the shelf is full, I carry the jugs over to my chest freezer. On that I apply my serialized company labels, add the appropriate grade label and add a price tag. Then I set the jugs to cool lined up along the back of the freezer (on top of it) . Then I set up to pack another size, same procedure and that gets repeated until the bottler is empty.
I have adjusted the inventory in the online store front, I’ll update again after the rest is packed. Since I sell both from my online store and 1 local retail store, the counts shown on the online store are only what is designated for online sales, the local retail counts do not show on the online store. However, those counts do get moved back and forth as necessary. For the online inventory I rarely show my whole inventory, because I don’t know if the inventory not shown will be sold online or at my local retail outlet. As that decision is made, the counts are adjusted. In other words, I often have more than the store counts show, (and on one occasion I had less than it showed, but I try not to make that mistake.)
I finally got some cooler temperatures. I bottled a barrel of Amber into jugs and bottles, today I start a barrel of Dark. Once both are finished, I’ll get counts of each and update my inventories for my online store.
I have run out of some products, but it is temporary. On the first day when I have daytime temperatures in the 60’s, I’ll pack more. I have more of Amber, dark and bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, all in SS barrels or an oak bourbon barrel, I just need temperatures cool enough to be able to set over a bottler at over 185F to pack it. The forecast looks promising, maybe this Friday. Right now the forecast shows a high of 67F, if that holds I can start. It would take me 3 days to do it all, I might start tomorrow at slightly warmer, if I get too hot, I can return to it on Friday.
As of right now I still have a 30 gal barrel of Amber, having sold just 1 barrel worth since maple season started in early March, and I still have 2 barrels of dark, having sold 3 barrels worth in that same time frame.
While I’m low on bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, I’m not yet sold out. I only have one 15 gal oak barrel of it ready to bottle and it will likely be bottled before I run out of either size I used to sell it in. The next bottling will see a new size added, a 100ml bottle for $7.00. That will be added to the store as soon as I bottle some. While the 2 existing sizes sell about equally in terms of number sold, I suspect the 100ml might be a winner for Christmas gift giving.