Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Saxtons River Distillery. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy links towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
No product is more synonymous with Vermont than maple syrup. When Vermonter and founder of Saxtons River Distillery Christian Stromberg created a business out of his Lithuanian family’s tradition of creating flavorful liqueurs, highlighting the maple flavor was a no-brainer.
The Sapling line is Stromberg’s ode to maple syrup and flavorful liquors. The line includes a maple liqueur (not reviewed), maple bourbon, honey bourbon, double barrel maple bourbon, and maple rye. The 100% Grade A maple syrup and honey used in these products are all sourced locally from Vermont.
In addition to the Sapling products, Saxtons River Distillery also creates Snowdrop Gin and Perc, a coffee liqueur. Both these products have a barrel aged release as well. A vodka is also in the works, though not yet released.
Tasting Notes: Sapling Honey Bourbon
Vital Stats: 40% ABV, $30-$60
Appearance: Ironically enough, the liquid is clear honey-colored.
Nose: The honey is subtly detectable on the nose. Notes of vanilla and orange carry throughout.
Palate: This bourbon has a nice, creamy mouthfeel. The sweetness of the honey is immediately detectable, but not cloying. The vanilla and orange notes from the nose follow into the taste as well.
Tasting Notes: Sapling Double Barrel Maple Bourbon
Vital Stats: 45% ABV, $45-$60.
Appearance: The liquid is clear, dark amber.
Nose: Maple syrup is immediately recognizable on the nose. Prunes, sassafras, and spice follow after.
Palate: The mouthfeel is creamy and luxurious. The maple flavor comes through strongly and complements the oaky vanilla spice of the bourbon. The medium finish is vanilla and maple.
Tasting Notes: Sapling Maple Bourbon
Vital Stats: 35% ABV, $45-$60.
Appearance: The liquid is a clear, light brown.
Nose: The nose is lighter than the Double Barrel Maple Bourbon. The vanilla is forward with the maple notes. Light pepper spice hides behind the sweetness.
Palate: This bourbon tastes like someone splashed some whiskey into their maple syrup. It is hard to pick out any notes from the whiskey itself as the maple is so present. It is intensely sweet.
Tasting Notes: Sapling Maple Rye
Vital Stats: 35% ABV, $45-$60.
Appearance: The Maple Rye is a clear, dark reddish gold.
Nose: The dark sugar of the maple syrup combine with the caraway seed and malt notes from the rye. Reminiscent of a dark pumpernickel loaf.
Palate: Similar to the Maple Bourbon, the maple syrup is intensely strong and sweet. However, the rye notes of dried grass and peppery spice is easier to distinguish underneath it.
Final Thoughts: I was impressed with how well the maple flavor really carries through in these products. There is no mistaking it for another type of sugar. The honey was a little lost by comparison. The sweetness is definitely there, but I could have mistaken it for another sweetening agent. These products are fun and fantastic for Vermont and fall themed cocktails. I don’t know that I’d recommend sipping on any of them neat though (with the possible exception of the Double Barrel Maple Bourbon) they are just so sweet!
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Larissa Banitt is a writer and nurse born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She's a foodie, whisk(e)y nerd, and animal lover. You'll often find her hiking with her dog, trail-riding with her horse, or crocheting with her cats.