Deepen The Flavor Of Maple Syrup With A Splash Of Bourbon

Both maple syrup and bourbon are North American-born products and a major source of pride within Canadian and American culinary traditions. Even better, combining these two treasured ingredients will create a luscious and complex sweetener that will elevate anything you pair it with, from drinks to desserts — and everything in between.

Bourbon encompasses a wide range of tasting notes derived from the oak barrels in which the spirit ages; the proportion of rye, wheat, and corn included; and whether they spirit is a blend or single cask option. Maple syrup likewise has varying grades categorized by colors wherein the hue indicates overall taste — the darker the color, the more intense the maple flavor.

Not only that, but maple syrup happens to be a common tasting note in bourbon, so adding a splash of the spirit to the syrup makes for a seamless marriage of flavors. Bourbons with sweeter notes (including high corn and high wheat varieties) will pair easily with maple syrup while also imparting a much broader range of tasting notes including nutty, floral, spicy, and smoky flavors. Spicy or harsh rye or single-cask bourbon would work well with an ultra-dark grade maple syrup, on the other hand, creating a balance between two equally intense yet opposing flavors.

How to add bourbon to maple syrup

Combining these two ingredients will essentially create a maple-bourbon simple syrup — and all you have to do is boil the two together. For every cup of syrup, you'll need two tablespoons of bourbon. The first step is to bring the bourbon to a boil to eliminate the alcohol content. Once the spirit has simmered for a minute, you'll stir in the maple syrup and then turn off the flame. The residual heat will effectively blend the two ingredients into a more complex syrup with which you can sweeten the dishes and drinks of your choice.

A good rule of thumb when choosing a bourbon to add to your maple syrup is to use a brand that you'd drink on its own. Another factor to consider is how you'll be using a bourbon-infused maple syrup. Darker maple syrups are generally used as a baking ingredient, while lighter maple syrups are used for drizzling. 

Perhaps a dark maple syrup mixed with a rye-heavy bourbon would make a great sweetener for a pecan pie. A corn-heavy bourbon with floral and nutty notes blended with a light amber syrup would taste delicious drizzled over pancakes or a decadent plate of fried chicken and waffles. You can also use bourbon-maple syrup as a sweetener for bourbon cocktails to enhance the drinks. A splash of smoky bourbon-infused maple would elevate a creamy espresso or coffee drink for a total perk-me-up.