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Maple Spirit


Morgan_Weber
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Last night I was looking through my pantry and came across an old bottle of Vermont maple syrup. As I was about to make a cocktail, the thought crossed my mind, "Since the process of making maple syrup is mostly similar to making sugar syrup and mollases, I would stand to reason that a reasonably tasty spirit could be made from maple sap, like rum is made from cane."

Does anyone know of any companies that are distilling a high proof spirit from maple sap or maple syrup? From a google search or two, I turned up a few boring liqueurs (mostly homemade), that mix equal parts maple syrup with canadian whiskey, but I couldn't find an actual spirit.

The Vermont Gold Vintage Vodka by Anheuser Busch doesn't count. I'm thinking of a rum-type spirit, or eau de vie made strictly from maple--maybe even something that has been aged in wood...

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There are maple liquors from Quebec but I don't know if the ethanol comes from the sap or if its added. Interesting question!

gelinotte-geaibleu.jpg

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I imagine this would certainly be possible, but I can't imagine there's any way it would be cost-effective. When you consider the cost of producing maple syrup in the first place, the idea of taking that and distilling seems like it would be quite prohibitive!

Though who knows? Maybe there would be a niche market for it...

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I've had one of those maple liquers before - I heartily unrecommend them, like drinking sickly-sweet sherry.

Then again, it was a cheapo bottle someone gave me as a gag gift, so perhaps higher quality maple liquer would be more palatable.

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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Being from Texas, I have no idea what the sap tastes like coming out of maple trees, but I was wondering if it could be made in the same way that rhum agricole is made? From what I understand, they take the fresh cane juice and add a yeast strand to it to begin fermentation. Then, they distill it. Could one possibly do that with the maple tree sap, without reducing and concentrating it first?

Anyone know what raw maple sap tastes like? Is it just barely sweet?

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As mkayahara points out, getting the sap out of maple trees is a fairly costly and labor-intensive business. It's not the same thing as mowing down a field of sugar cane and pressing the juice out of it, and it's sure not the same thing as making booze out of the industrial waste from sugar refining.

Given the costs associated with obtaining maple sap and the fact that a distillate produced from fermented maple sap would most likely not have a particularly "mapley" taste, I think it's unlikely we'll ever see such a product.

--

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As mkayahara points out, getting the sap out of maple trees is a fairly costly and labor-intensive business.  It's not the same thing as mowing down a field of sugar cane and pressing the juice out of it, and it's sure not the same thing as making booze out of the industrial waste from sugar refining.

Not to mention that you have to pay the producers first-world wages...

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Anyone know what raw maple sap tastes like?  Is it just barely sweet?

Put 1 oz of regular maple syrup into a clean 40 oz bottle, fill with water, shake and taste. That's exactly what the sap tastes like.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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As mkayahara points out, getting the sap out of maple trees is a fairly costly and labor-intensive business.  It's not the same thing as mowing down a field of sugar cane and pressing the juice out of it, and it's sure not the same thing as making booze out of the industrial waste from sugar refining.

Given the costs associated with obtaining maple sap and the fact that a distillate produced from fermented maple sap would most likely not have a particularly "mapley" taste, I think it's unlikely we'll ever see such a product.

That makes sense. I guess if one did it, the price per bottle would be more on the luxury scale than anything...who knows if it would even taste good?

Thanks for the input everyone.

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Anyone know what raw maple sap tastes like?  Is it just barely sweet?

Put 1 oz of regular maple syrup into a clean 40 oz bottle, fill with water, shake and taste. That's exactly what the sap tastes like.

Hmm. Not exactly, in my experience. I think the caramelization that happens when the sap is boiled down contributes quite a bit to the flavor.

Vermont Spirits make a Maple Vodka.  I've read about it; but, not tried.

Great idea! Take an ingredient that is expensive, distinctive and limited in supply, and then refine all of its character away! [/sarcasm]

--

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In the 19th century, when labor was cheap and the sap ran high, they used to make a good deal of maple rum in upstate New York, New Hampshire and Vermont. I assume it was based on sap that was to some degree concentrated before fermenting. I'm planning an experiment one of these days and will report.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Anyone know what raw maple sap tastes like?  Is it just barely sweet?

Put 1 oz of regular maple syrup into a clean 40 oz bottle, fill with water, shake and taste. That's exactly what the sap tastes like.

Hmm. Not exactly, in my experience. I think the caramelization that happens when the sap is boiled down contributes quite a bit to the flavor.

Vermont Spirits make a Maple Vodka.  I've read about it; but, not tried.

Great idea! Take an ingredient that is expensive, distinctive and limited in supply, and then refine all of its character away! [/sarcasm]

...yeah wtf?!?! Maple Vodka--what's the point?

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In the 19th century, when labor was cheap and the sap ran high, they used to make a good deal of maple rum in upstate New York, New Hampshire and Vermont. I assume it was based on sap that was to some degree concentrated before fermenting. I'm planning an experiment one of these days and will report.

see, this is what I'm talking about. I knew it had to have been done at some point in our country's history. I'm just curious about what the ending product would/could taste like...even on a small scale. I wish home-distilling wasn't illegal.

I grew up in a very strict southern home...there was a zero tolerance for booze in my family and now I'm talking about wishing i could make maple moonshine...wow...they'd be so proud. :wacko:

edited because I can't spell correctly...

Edited by Morgan_Weber (log)
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Published in 1989 by the New York Times:

"In the early 1930's, soon after repeal of Prohibition, a pair of promoters came through Burlington and convinced Vermonters that a bundle could be made by distilling their humble forestry product. For generations Vermont farmers, after gathering and boiling down maple sap into syrup in the spring, relaxed with long drafts of homemade sap beer. But the hucksters convinced them of the profit-making potential in maple liquor, and the wisdom of investing their money in it.

The Vermont maple liquor of the 30's turned out strong and good, and was said to compare with Scotch whisky in flavor and kick. The liqueur, too, called Amerind, was tongue-teasing and tasty.

But the liquor's base of maple syrup, then maybe $2 a gallon, still was many times over the cost of barley, the base of Scotch. The company went bankrupt, promoters skipped town and Vermonters lost their money. MALVINE COLE Jamaica, Vt. "

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Anyone know what raw maple sap tastes like?  Is it just barely sweet?

Put 1 oz of regular maple syrup into a clean 40 oz bottle, fill with water, shake and taste. That's exactly what the sap tastes like.

Hmm. Not exactly, in my experience. I think the caramelization that happens when the sap is boiled down contributes quite a bit to the flavor.

You're right, just about anything undergoes change when boiled for several hours - especially sugars. I was (incorrectly) considering flavour as a function of concentration only.

We make 10 or so liters of maple syrup each March as a social thing to do, plus its good exercise. I don't think I could bring myself to actually dilute fresh syrup forty fold to see how it compares to sap!

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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"But the liquor's base of maple syrup, then maybe $2 a gallon, still was many times over the cost of barley, the base of Scotch. The company went bankrupt, promoters skipped town and Vermonters lost their money."

Well, there's your problem, right there.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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There is  a maple liqueur called "Sortilege" imported by Laird's (the applejack maker) which is blended with Canadian Whiskey. 

http://lairdandcompany.com/products_spirits_imported.htm

We've been carrying the Sortilege maple whiskey at Chick's for about a month now. I've been serving it neat in a snifter like a dessert wine, paired with our Brioche Bread Pudding dessert. It's a no brainer pairing, really. It's just like the maple syrup for the French toast. :smile:

The Sortilege is delicious. All whiskey on the nose and all maple on the palate. It's not really priced for mixing at about $18 for a 375ml bottle. I need to experiment with it more in small doses as a flavoring agent in autumnal cocktails. It has a lot of potential for that. Meanwhile, it seems to be selling well as a dessert wine alternative. Go figure.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I had a half of a small bottle of Knob Creek (not a big fan) in my cabinet that had been collecting some dust, so I filled it with grade B maple syrup, and gave it a good shake. Although it is a little more viscous than I intended, it tastes awesome--sit me down with a straw and call it an evening. :biggrin:

edited to add:

All that to say, I'm not sure how usable it is. There wouldn't be much difference than just adding maple syrup to any cocktail.

Katie, if you have a second, let me know what you've found that the Sortilege works nicely in. I might be able to use my bourbon/maple mixture in it's place.

Edited by Morgan_Weber (log)
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Morgan:

I think you're right. Using just straight maple syrup as the sweetening agent in a cocktail would probably be the easier way to go. It would certainly be far more cost effective as well.

I was thinking about a twist on an old fashioned, using the maple syrup instead of sugar, some really spicy bitters like the Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel aged, and either bourbon or maybe even a really nice anejo rum or tequila. It has potential but would definitely need some tweaking or "lab work" to figure out. :wink:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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That pretty much seals it. I'm going to have to try me one of those Applejack Old Fashioneds. They sounds delicious and almost exactly what I was thinking about. I was still considering muddling an orange wedge and a couple of cherries with the bourbon or rye. Probably unnecessary with the Applejack.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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