The Sugarmaker’s Cut™is our best syrup of the season. Like pizza and, ah, other things, even when maple is not at its best, it is still really good. But there are days when the flavor is sublime and that’s the product we hold out for. People who work in the maple industry anticipate these special days by bringing in old mason jars and bottles so they will have a container on hand when they come around. Some days, we’ll see half the crew lined up near the rig because word has gotten out that it is a truly exceptional day. We taste every batch in anticipation of those coveted runs and when we feel the flavor has hit its peak, we start bottling.
The character of maple syrup changes from the first run in mid winter to the last run in spring. Generally the color starts as a light gold and changes to deep amber as the weather warms. The sugar content of the sap also changes starting low, increasing throughout the season and then dipping again as spring approaches.
The flavor, however, zigzags all over the charts. Experiments at Proctor Maple Research Center (located just down the road from us) may show that variables such as soil moisture and temperature foster certain flavors in the syrup. My personal feeling is that it is simply the mood of the trees. Sometimes it has a bouncy sort of sweetness with hints of acidity. Other times it has a deep Paul Robeson bass of caramel earthiness. Though taste, of course, is subjective, we have an experienced maple palate and know when the flavor profile hits all the right notes for the very best product. It is these batches that we will set aside for our Sugarmaker’s Cut™.
You may have noticed we do not sell our syrup by grade, though, by law we are required to note it on the bottle. The grading system was designed to give the customer an idea of how strong a maple flavor one can expect. Lighter color supposedly corresponds with lighter flavor. We find there is much more nuance in the character of the syrup than the color would indicate. You could say we are colorblind when it comes to tasting. We’ve selected the best of the season which, for us, generally falls in the ‘golden’ or ‘amber’ region of grades. We pay little attention to color, however; we are all about the taste.