What’s better than real maple syrup? Well, B&E’s Trees Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup has kicked this amber elixir up a notch. Drizzle on ice cream, into vinaigrettes, over pork roasts, and, of course, on pancakes and waffles, for a smoky-sweet kiss.
Bree Breckel and Eric Weninger of B&E’s Trees in Cashton, Wis., produce this certified organic maple syrup on their tree farm. They age it in charred oak bourbon barrels for a year.
In 2011, they began harvesting sap from the mature maples on their 64-acre farm and sold it to a local bottler. Entrepreneurial and adventuresome, they brainstormed their own unique maple product.
Then a bit of luck intervened. After connecting with Paul Graham, owner of Central Waters Brewing Co., at an energy fair, they arranged for Central Waters to lend them bourbon barrels to age their maple syrup. Once emptied, those barrels went back to being filled with Central Waters Imperial Stout.
Over the next two years, the B&E and Central Waters partnership culminated with the bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup and the Central Waters Maple Barrel Stout. The resulting syrup is a heady blend of smoke, vanilla, maple and bourbon flavors, but contains no alcohol. It’s beloved by cooks and mixologists alike.
Breckel and Weninger are at work expanding their acreage and plan to build their own sugaring facility to keep up with the increased demand.
Breckel manages the farm, splitting her time between a hunting cabin on the property and an apartment in La Crosse, Wis. Weninger earns an off-farm income as a mechanical engineer at Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, three hours away.
“Our goal is to get Eric on this side of the state,” Breckel said. “Initially one of our biggest challenges was just waiting for that first year for the maple to age in the barrels. The wait tied up inventory, so there was little cash coming in while we met our expenses for bottles, labels, cartons, etc.
“But it was worth it. The sales are strong.”
B&E’s Trees Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup is available at food co-ops throughout the region in half-pint-sized flasks for $16; pint-sized flasks for $26; and 17-ounce (50 ml) bottles for $6. They also are available online, bandestrees.com/bourbon-barrel-maple-syrup-order.