The Age of the “Barrel Aged”

Transitioning into 2018, I think we’ll all find ourselves witnessing the surge of Barrel Aged products. A trend that seems like it was bound to happen, new popular products such as barrel aged coffee beans and barrel aged maple syrup have already proven there’s a bountiful market. I’ve been able to get my hands on a few different brands of coffee and maple syrup this year, and one in particular caught my eye this Fall season. Let me tell you about Watson’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. In a new market of barrel aged maple syrup, the good people at Watson’s are already a set ahead of the game with their ‘single barrel’ selections and used bourbon barrels aging imperial stout beer. Although not exactly a “single barrel” in the traditional sense of aging whiskey in new oak barrels and bottling from that single barrel, but rather they simply took used single bourbon barrels and aged their Grade A maple syrup in them to extract the characteristics from that particular single barrel. Before I dove into this tasting I was sure I would not find a wide range of differences between each syrup in the pack they sent me, however by the end of the tasting I found each one to tremendously unique with their own separate flavor profiles. Watson’s says this about their barrel selection:

We believe a superior barrel and award winning syrup makes for a phenomenal product. Hand picking the right barrel and pairing it with the right syrup makes for the best  experience.  Each barrel has its own characteristics to create a truly unique product. Subtle vanilla, cinnamon and a finish of oak with characteristics of dried fruit are just some of the flavors you can expect.

Our process starts in a hunt for the best barrels.  We believe the best barrels come from the best whiskey.  These are the barrels we use in the aging process.  Barrels 1, 3, and 5 were handpicked with the product in them, outstanding whiskey and outstanding beer gives you the barrel with the foundation for outstanding barrel aged maple syrup.


Tasting Notes: Watson’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

Editor’s Note: This maple syrup was generously provided to Superfly Bourbon Club by Watson’s Barrel Aged. In no way, does acquiring these bottles in any form manipulate the direction of this review. Some information sourced from WatsonsBarrelAged.com.

For this review, I’ll be tasting all three variations in Watson’s current line up of maple syrups- a 10 year Single Barrel, an 11 year single barrel, and a used bourbon barrel aged with Pipeworks Abduction imperial stout.I wanted to be thorough, so I tasted the three different syrups neat in a Glencairin- I then proceeded to determine the impact of each syrup when drizzled over a delicious stack of waffles. I don’t mess around…

10 year Single Barrel #1

This mayple syrup is aged in a 10 year old barrel that contained an outstanding single barrel whiskey that was handpicked by the people at Watson’s.  The whiskey’s mashbill contained 75% corn 21% rye and 4% barley.  Paired with an amber pure maple syrup from an early season tapping at the farm produced a simply outstanding barrel aged maple syrup.

Tasting Notes in Glencairin:  Vanilla and oak on the nose, strong tannins from the barrel and noticeable caramel bourbon on the palate. Finish is sweet with bourbon spice aftertaste. 

Tasting Notes with Waffle: Sweet with cinnamon. Absorbs into the waffle quick. Definitely the sweetest of the three.


11 year Single Barrel #5

This 11 year barrel came from Heaven Hill Distillery before it became the new home for Watson’s maple syrup. Like I said before, I anticipated the characteristics of this maple syrup to be very similar to the 10 year, but wow is it different. Clearly darker in appearance compared to the 10 year and the palate takes it even further from the 10’s profile.

Tasting Notes in Glencairin:  Vanilla and bourbon caramel spice on the nose. Fruity on the palate, close to fig and cherry. The maple seems a lot stronger and richer all the way threw the palate taking you to the long lingering finish that ends up getting glued to your tongue. 

Tasting Notes with Waffle: My least favorite of the three on the waffle. The fruity characteristics aren’t my favorite when paired with syrup and waffles as it came through even more on the waffle than the neat tasting, but it was absolutely delicious regardless. 


Pipeworks Abduction Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout #3

This one is pretty cool. This release started with a 10 year old bourbon barrel from Heaven Hill Distillery and then filled with Pipeworks Brewing Abduction Imperial Stout.  After completing the aging and bottling process of the beer, Watson’s maple syrup was rested in that bourbon stout finished barrel. The blend of flavors adds not only a beautiful color to the syrup, but adds a pleasant dark chocolate and coffee essence to the undertones. 

Tasting Notes in Glencairin:  Caramel and earthy oak on the nose, gentle dark chocolate and coffee on the palate accompanied by honey and rich maple. Finish is slightly dry and leaves the dark chocolate aftertaste. 

Tasting Notes with Waffle: You get a lot of the coffee with cinnamon. The waffle really brings out the maple in this one as well.


The best part about this new trend of barrel aged product and especially with these bourbon barrel aged maple syrups is that they are great substitutes for sugar and elevate whatever you’re pairing it with. I love using the barrel aged maple syrup to replace the sugar in my Old Fashioned, or drizzle some over my baked butternut squash dish. Watson’s neatly supplies a sheet of different uses for their syrup and they’ve so generously done the hard work of figuring out the measurements of each ingredient substitution. Thanks!

Visit WatsonsBarrelAged.com/shop-1 to get your syrup in time for the holidays!

Michael Inglima

Michael Inglima

Michael Inglima is a full time Graphic Designer, amateur writer and Creative Director of Superfly Bourbon Club. He has been a long-time bourbon enthusiast and advocate based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His number one goal in the bourbon universe is to educate new-comers and develop a unique brand of like-minded individuals.

View all posts by Michael Inglima

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