Up Your Cocktail (and Pancake) Game this Holiday Season with Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup

Watson's Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup
Watson's Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup.

We’ve been assembling our favorite gifts for the holiday seasonal all month, including our picks for the best gift whiskeys of the year, and some of the rarest whiskeys you can gift in 2018. But one of the best ways to celebrate the holidays is to share good food and good drink with loved ones, and one of the best things you can add to your food and drink plan is bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup.

Think about it: pancakes at daybreak, marinades for ham or whatever else you’re planning as the centerpiece for the evening meal, and a seasonal addition to just about every cocktail you can (or should) make at home. The only problem is finding the right maple syrup.

We may have some help to offer there. Our partners at Bourbon Outfitter have a great trio of bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrups available for the holidays¬†(The Bourbon Review collaborated with Watson’s for one of these barrel picks.)

Barrel No. 2

We found this one to be the hands-down winner for cocktails. It was light, slightly fruity, and added those baking spice notes you’re looking for in a holiday cocktail.

It made an incredible old fashioned, especially with spicier rye bourbons and rye whiskey. Our first instinct was to go with Four Roses, though we’ll admit Heaven Hill 80 Proof did a fantastic job for our relatives who like their drinks to lean a little softer and sweeter.

It was tasty but not the most impressive on pancakes… that one came later.

Barrel No. 4

We made some incredible drinks with this one as well, and while the pancake tasting committee had a majority opinion, this one had a lot of votes. That said, this syrup has a clear purpose: balancing out savory foods.

Drizzled over bacon, this became everyone’s favorite pretty quickly, as it added sweetness and warmth to salty savory bacon. It also seems best suited to smoker or grill duty, where it can capitalized on char notes.

Bourbon Review Weller Antique Barrel Pick

Maybe we’re playing favorites here, but this one does pancakes right.

Here’s something that might surprise you: the more maple syrup tastes like bourbon, the less useful it is in a cocktail. We’ve got bourbon to do the bourbon-ing, but what we’re looking for in a cocktail is bright, rich, amber-sweet flavor to supplement the whiskey, not match it.

With pancakes, though, well that’s another story. The most barrel-forward syrup popped, as if we were having breakfast in a rickhouse. And, with apologies to the purists out there, it played particularly well with chocolate and banana pancakes.

The trio of syrups is available for purchase through BourbonOutfitter.com, or through the link below.

Free Shipping on all Barrel Aged Maple Syrups through NOON EST 12/19/18 – No code necessary. Discount automatically applied.

G. Clay Whittaker
Clay is Editor at Large of The Bourbon Review. He has written about whiskey, food, drink, and culture for Esquire, Playboy, Men's Journal, Popular Science, Southern Living, Maxim, among others.