Wine, whiskey and other spirits have long been aged in wood barrels, but barrel aging is on-trend right now and that means that people are starting to experiment with aging different products. For instance, I’ve had barrel-aged beer and barrel-aged cocktails (and you can buy your own kits for doing this at home) at various restaurants and bars. But barrel aging doesn’t start and stop with beverages. Rodelle’s French Oak Aged Vanilla Extract has a rich, complex flavor that is more layered than most vanilla extracts are. Another barrel-aged product I recently discovered was at Trader Joe’s: Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup.
Maple syrup comes in grades that describe the color of the syrup and when the syrup is harvested during the season. Darker maple syrups tend to have a deeper, more intense maple flavor and I gravitate towards those syrups (which are often labeled Grade B) both for topping pancakes and for baking. The syrup is a much darker color than the ambers usually seen in maple syrups and, in accordance with the specialty nature of the product, it was packaged in a specialty bottle. The syrup is intense, with some vanilla and nutty, toasted flavors that you don’t typically find in maple syrup. It still tastes like maple over everything else, of course, but it is complex and the flavor seems to linger even longer on your palate than other maple syrups. It is delicious and the only downside to this is that it is only available in limited quantities. I wouldn’t use this for baking, but it is a standout on pancakes and other breakfast foods. I also used it as a sweetener for an apple-flavored fall cocktail recently, with great results, and I can guarantee that it will make an excellent Maple Old Fashioned.