Highland County farm makes bourbon maple syrup

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HIGHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) The sap is beginning to flow in Highland County, which means it’s getting time to tap the trees.

Something Valerie Lowry and her husband Pat have been doing for 17 years in the usual way, until their son-in-law brought a gift of an old bourbon barrel.

“Got bored one day," Pat Lowry remembers. "The maple season was over and I had a can of syrup outside, and it was a dark. And I thought: this ought to go good in there. And so I put it in the barrel and just let it sit.”

When they took it to the Maple Festival, the flavored syrup was a hit.

“After the last bottle of syrup was gone," says Valerie Lowry. "I’m standing there thinking: I’ve got to get to Richmond and get some more barrels, quickly.”

It’s not like they were looking for a big change.

“The only other flavor we had prior to that was hickory syrup that Pat had developed last year,” she says.

But now, with those extra barrels, the make not just bourbon, but whiskey, brandy, and rye flavors.

“Some of the people say to me: I’m not going ruin my syrup with doing that," says Pat Lowry. "And I said: Okay, that's your choice, but we tried it and we liked it."

They still boil down the syrup the old fashioned way, in his grandma’s open pan, but that doesn’t stop the flavor experiments.

He says, “Yeah, I’ll take chances. And that’s what this was. It was just: let’s try it. If you never try anything, you’ll never see if it works.”

But there was one flavor that didn’t work.

“Bacon!” says Pat Lowry, giving it the big thumbs down.

Who’d have thought?