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Source Spotlight: Wood’s Vermont Syrup Company

When you hear of a maple flavored spirit, you might assume that the maple is a main ingredient added directly to the spirit. It’s an understandable assumption. As a natural sugar, maple syrup is great with most things—pancakes, donuts, marinades, coffee, and at times, it can even be used as a substitute for simple syrup in cocktails. However, our Maple Cask Rum isn’t just rum mixed with straight maple syrup. The story behind this spirit is much richer.

When we decided to make a Maple Cask Rum, we knew we wanted to partner with a local Vermont syrup company. After meeting the Wood family, who has collected sap from their own family maple trees for four generations, we knew we had the right partner. Wood’s produces high quality maple syrup in a variety of flavors, but their barrel aged maple syrups are among the most popular. 

Wood's Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

Wood’s barrel aged maple syrup comes in two varieties—Bourbon Barrel Aged and Rum Barrel Aged. Both are produced in a similar manner, filling newly emptied barrels with hot maple syrup, and then aging them for several months. Mad River Distillers partners with Wood’s Syrup Company to bring together two craft products (Vermont-made syrup and our Vermont-made rum) to create Wood’s Rum Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. We provide them with our freshly emptied rum barrels to fill with syrup and age. As the syrup ages and soaks in the barrel, the essence of the barrel is imparted, resulting in a delicious syrup with only trace amounts of alcohol (just 1%) and the flavors of both vanilla and butterscotch. 

Al Wood pouring maple syrup into a Mad River Distillers barrel

“When I first started aging maple syrup in bourbon barrels, I knew it would be a hit with my customers. I then started getting requests for rum barrel aged syrup. I got on the phone with Mad River and started talking with General Manager and Head Distiller Al Hilton, and he and I made a plan to get some barrels. It was another hit with the customers! The rum does have a butterscotch-vanilla tone which is so good on french toast—my favorite! Mad River continues to be a great partner.”

Al Wood, owner of Wood's Vermont Syrup Company

Mad River's Maple Cask Rum

So how do we make our Maple Cask Rum? First we begin with our First Run Rum, which we then age in barrels that previously contained Wood’s Rum Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. These barrels, recently emptied of the aged maple syrup, impart rich and complex flavors in the rum. After aging our rum in these barrels for some time, the First Run Rum is transformed, adding a nose of tropical fruits and butterscotch flavors, with hints of smoky whiskey. The final product is a rum that is perfect for sipping or incorporating into a number of cocktails (such as our Maple Bourbon Sour).

Maple Bourbon Sour cocktail on a table

"We really value our local partners and collaborators. Our relationship with Al Wood is a unique one in that it is 100% mutually beneficial. We are both reusing barrels that would otherwise be cast away, in a way that adds value to both of our finished products." 

Alex Hilton, General Manager & Head Distiller at Mad River Distillers

An Award-Winning Partnership

Mad River’s partnership with Wood’s Vermont Syrup is a circle. We provide barrels recently emptied of our rum to be filled with maple syrup for aging. In turn, Wood’s provides barrels back to us, recently emptied of their maple syrup. This circle of flavor is an award-winning formula. The Maple Cask Rum has received several awards, including Gold and Silver Medals from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, a Gold Medal from the Spirits of the Americas competition, and a Bronze Medal from the American Distilling Institute.

Bottle of Mad River Distillers Maple Cask Rum

“Mad River Maple Cask Rum – Rich, tropical and confectionary nose, with a bourbon quality that shows good balance and great promise. American rum returns to greatness with this sipper, rich in flavor and substance.”

Tasting notes, Spirits of the Americas competition

Consider The Source

Our Maple Cask Rum isn’t just a combination of syrup and rum. The story behind our rum, and the syrup, is much more rich. The next time you’re shopping for a flavored spirit or a flavored maple syrup, consider the source. Where did the flavor come from? Is it artificial or natural? How was the flavor imparted? At Mad River Distillers, we’re proud of our partnership with Wood’s Vermont Syrup to not only make our popular Maple Cask Rum, but to make their delicious Rum Barrel Aged Maple Syrup, both with naturally imparted flavors. 

To learn more or to see where you can purchase either product, please visit:

Written and published by Brianne Lucas on September 14, 2021.

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