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Barrel-aged maple syrup: Canuck classic with a gourmet twist

When it comes to maple syrup, we Canadians are spoiled. We pour it on fluffy stacks of pancakes, drizzle it over bacon, even emulsify it into our salad dressings – all without a second thought. And why not? Mediterraneans didn't fully appreciate the gift of their great nourishing tree, olive oil, until the rest of the world cottoned on to its glory a few decades ago. If all those Greeks, Italians, and Spaniards could take glugs of EVOO for granted, it's easy to excuse Canucks who treat a hit of high quality amber glory as a birthright, not a privilege, especially when all we have to do is avoid the dyed corn syrup packaged in bottles shaped like transparent, miniature matrons.

For those among us who view maple syrup as something other than a commodity, Mikuni, a Vancouver-based harvester and distributor of wild foods, refines Canada #1 medium syrup into a luxe alternative. It ages small batches of Quebec's finest in used, charred bourbon barrels from Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, N.Y., for five to eight months to create a dark brew that mixes familiar layers of complex sweetness with a delightful bass note of smoke and wood. It takes some serious jam to mess with a national symbol, but the result remains a perfect partner for your weekend pancakes, and it's the only ingredient you need to make a delightful, truly Canadian dessert – just pour liberally over a pile of snow.

A 400-millilitre bottle of the syrup can be purchased at select food shops or directly from Mikuni for $24.95; mikuni.myshopify.com.

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