The Next Generation of Vermont Maple Products
By Melanie Heisinger
If you’ve been away from Vermont for more than a few years, you may notice a significant difference on the maple shelf at your local co-op the next time you visit. The usual plastic jugs and maple-leaf glass bottles not only feature a new rating system (so long “grade B”) but are being crowded out by new producers with altogether swankier packaging and infusions of everything from makrut leaf and hibiscus to cardamom and elderberry. Still, other bottles claim aging in rum or bourbon barrels.
In short, Vermont maple products are going 4.0. and getting national recognition for it, even by Oprah. Here are three favorites from the next generation of maple products.
Runamok Infused SyrupsPerhaps no one gave a greater bump to the Vermont maple name nationally than Oprah herself, who added Runamok’s trio set of bourbon-barrel aged, hibiscus-infused, and cinnamon-vanilla-infused syrups to her annual list of favorite things in 2016. In the three days following her plug, Runamok Maple made as much in sales as it had in the previous six months. The infusions also add a whole new range of opportunities for artisanal food pairings, particularly with spectacular Vermont cheese. Start with elderberry-infused maple syrup with smoked gouda. Oh, so gouda!
Sap!Chas Smith and cousin Nikita Salmon grew up in Vermont drinking sap straight from the bucket on the family farm during sugaring season. Now, they’ve added carbonation, turning it into the booming business called Sap! Not only does it have an appealing light and delicious flavor—minimal ingredients and processing make it a favorite of health-conscious consumers. The canned sodas and seltzers even earned an appearance on the TV show Shark Tank in January 2018, gaining national recognition and an explosion in sales of around two to three thousand percent.
WhistlePig Barrel-Aged Maple SyrupVermont’s craft-beer revolution also brought a wave of artisanal distilleries, including Shoreham-based WhistlePig, whose “Boss Hog” won the Best Whiskey award at the San Francisco Spirits Competition in 2017. As for the oak barrels hewn from oak trees on the 1,200-acre farm, they’ve been turned over to maple syrup for aging. The grade A “robust amber” sits for 6 to 12 months before being drizzled atop your pancakes and adding a rye kick, giving new meaning to “liquid gold.”
What maple product are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!