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If you’ve lived in the Northeast for any length of time, you know maple syrup is big business. And if you’ve watched “The Great Maple Syrup Heist,” an eye-opening episode of the Netflix docu-series Dirty Money, you know that Canada produces about 76 percent of the world’s maple syrup, where it’s a cutthroat business ruled by labyrinthine governmental regulations and black-market bootleggers.
Fortunately, the biz is a little more sedate in the US, and small, local makers thrive. One of these is Runamok Maple, based in Fairfax, Vermont. Husband-wife team Eric and Laura Sorkin have been producing quality syrups since 2009, and in 2016 expanded to infused, barrel-aged, and smoked syrups that walk the sophisticated line between sweet and savory. Runamok sells seasonal and limited-edition selections like Strawberry Rose and Cocoa Bean, along with 13 unique flavors, from makrut lime leaf to smoked chili pepper and gingerroot.
Why our opinion matters
We’re hard-core foodies, the kind of people who are already thinking about our next meal before we’ve finished the one in front of us. We love local specialty products, including maple syrup, and know how challenging it can be to sort the best from the rest.
What we tried
We sampled four flavors—Sugarmaker’s Cut, cardamom, elderberry, and rum—on pancakes, ice cream, biscuits, and straight off the spoon.
Sugarmaker’s Cut is a traditional, no-flavors-added maple syrup. It’s labeled as a grade-A amber, on the lighter end of the syrup spectrum. It has a smooth, not-too-rich flavor that makes it accessible—a crowd-pleaser of a table syrup.
The Rum syrup isn’t blended with rum, but rather aged in rum barrels. We didn’t find the taste to be especially rumlike, but it was rich and satisfying, like a grade-A dark robust, and would also make a great table syrup.
Although the website describes the Elderberry as tasting like figs drizzled in maple syrup, we didn’t get that sense at all—and we didn’t mind. This one has a pronounced flavor of wild berries: fruity, but not overly sweet. Perfect for ice cream and for savory treats like biscuits, cheese, and cocktails.
The Cardamom syrup is the most forward of the four flavors, with an excellent ratio of sweet to spice. It’s the most unusual of the bunch we sampled, and because of this, we liked it best. The Runamok site suggests using it in a curry or cake frosting. We think it would shine in both applications.
How much does it cost?
$16.95‒$27.95 for individual bottles; $29.95‒$69.95 for gift sets.
Where can you buy it?
Runamok Maple Syrup$16.95‒$27.95 for individual bottles; $29.95‒$69.95 for gift sets.
- Unique range of flavors
- Focus on sustainability
- Gift packaging makes it easy to give unusual holiday gifts
- Price (while fair, it's higher than what most people are accustomed to paying for maple syrup)
- Lacking information about organic certification and practices
Robin Catalano believes in the power of storytelling to connect communities and cultures. She’s applied her creative approach to writing for magazines, books, blogs, websites, and a wide variety of marketing projects, and has published more than 75 articles and 1,000+ blog posts. As an editor, she has worked on more than 350 books for publishers including Penguin Random House, Workman, and Simon & Schuster. She has also served as a book coach for independent authors, helping them take their ideas from concept to print. An avid traveler and travel writer, Robin lives, reads, and writes voraciously in upstate NY.