Does bourbon maple syrup have alcohol?

Maple syrup is a popular pancake topping and natural sweetener made from the sap of maple trees. Bourbon is an alcoholic spirit made primarily from corn. Bourbon maple syrup combines these two ingredients to create a unique syrup with a distinctive flavor profile. But does the addition of bourbon mean that maple syrup now contains alcohol? Let’s take a closer look.

What is bourbon maple syrup?

Bourbon maple syrup is made by adding bourbon to pure maple syrup. Typically, the bourbon makes up about 20-30% of the total volume. The ingredients are simply maple syrup and straight bourbon whiskey – nothing else is added. The bourbon imparts its characteristic sweet, oaky, and vanilla flavors into the maple syrup, creating a syrup with a more complex, almost candy-like maple taste and a subtle boozy aroma and finish. Brands of bourbon maple syrup include Woodchuck Cask, Crown Maple, and Mash Man Vermont Spirits Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup.

Does bourbon maple syrup contain alcohol?

Yes, bourbon maple syrup does contain a small amount of alcohol, due to the addition of straight bourbon whiskey. However, the amount of alcohol is relatively low compared to drinking straight bourbon. According to Crown Maple, their bourbon maple syrup contains an alcohol content of 4.5% ABV (alcohol by volume). Other brands range from 4-10% ABV. In comparison, a typical straight bourbon contains 35-60% ABV.

It’s important to note that even though bourbon maple syrup contains some alcohol, the alcohol content is dissipated during cooking and baking. The alcohol cooks off once the bourbon maple syrup reaches temperatures above 172°F. So if you use bourbon maple syrup to sweeten pancakes or waffles that you cook on a griddle or in a pan, the heating process will evaporate most of the alcohol, leaving behind the bourbon flavors.

Is it safe to consume?

Yes, bourbon maple syrup is generally safe to consume in normal food amounts, even for children and those who avoid alcohol for religious or health reasons. The amount of alcohol in a typical serving of pancakes or waffles made with bourbon maple syrup is very small – not enough to cause any intoxicating effects or health hazards. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) limits maple syrup products to less than 0.5% ABV if they are to be classified as “non-alcoholic.” Most bourbon maple syrup brands fall well below this limit.

Alcohol content vs. straight bourbon

To put the alcohol percentage into perspective, here’s a comparison of the amount of alcohol found in bourbon maple syrup vs. straight bourbon:

Product Typical ABV
Bourbon maple syrup 4.5-10% ABV
Straight bourbon whiskey (e.g. Jim Beam) 35-60% ABV

As you can see, bourbon maple syrup contains just a fraction of the alcohol found in straight bourbon whiskey. While it does impart some bourbon flavor, the bulk of the flavor comes from the pure maple syrup. The lower alcohol content and the use of it as a pancake topper or mixer means that it is consumed in much smaller quantities that do not deliver enough alcohol to cause intoxication.

Amount of alcohol in a typical serving

To determine exactly how much alcohol is in a typical serving of bourbon maple syrup, let’s consider a serving size of 1/4 cup (60 ml) of syrup over a standard short stack of 2 pancakes.

If we assume the bourbon maple syrup contains 5% ABV, then a 1/4 cup serving contains:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) bourbon maple syrup
  • Bourbon maple syrup contains 5% alcohol by volume
  • So a 1/4 cup serving contains 0.05 * 60 ml = 3 ml of pure alcohol

3 ml of alcohol is an extremely small amount – slightly less than a 1/2 teaspoon. For comparison, a typical 1.5 oz shot of straight bourbon contains around 14 grams or 14 ml of alcohol.

Cooking off the alcohol

Additionally, remember that any time bourbon maple syrup is heated, such as when pouring over pancakes fresh off the griddle, a significant portion of the alcohol evaporates away. One study found that flame cooking with alcohol reduced the residual alcohol by 75% after 2 minutes of cooking time (1). Therefore, the net alcohol content left in a serving of pancakes with bourbon maple syrup is very minimal.

Flavor contributions

While bourbon maple syrup does impart a subtle boozy flavor, the majority of its flavor comes from the added sweetness and aromatic compounds of the maple syrup. Bourbon brings its own flavors from the distilling process that complement the maple notes. These include:

  • Vanilla – from the charred oak barrels
  • Smoke – from charring the bourbon barrels
  • Oak – tannins in the wood
  • Caramelized sugar – from the malted barley
  • Spice – cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

Keep in mind that any bourbon flavor imparted into the syrup is subtle. It is not nearly as pronounced as drinking straight bourbon. The flavor balance is something like 95% maple syrup character to 5% bourbon character. The bourbon accentuates the natural maple sweetness and adds layers of complexity.

Uses for bourbon maple syrup

Bourbon maple syrup has become popular because it can be used in all the same ways as regular maple syrup. The bourbon flavor profile simply enhances the flavors of whatever you drizzle it on. Some of the most common uses for bourbon maple syrup include:

  • Pancakes and waffles
  • French toast
  • Oatmeal and porridge
  • Yogurt and fruit parfaits
  • Milkshakes and smoothies
  • Sweet potatoes or winter squash
  • Cakes, cookies and brownies
  • Glazes for meat like ham or pork
  • Cocktail mixer

Bourbon maple syrup can be substituted 1:1 for regular maple syrup or honey in any recipe. Keep in mind that the bourbon flavor may come through more strongly in some cooked applications than when drizzled over pancakes fresh off the griddle.

Pairings with food

Drizzling bourbon maple syrup over classic pancake accompaniments like bacon or sausage can amplify the savory flavors. The sweet maple balances against the smoky, salty meat. Eggs and ham also pair nicely when doused with bourbon maple syrup. The slight boozy, oak flavors mesh well with breakfast meats.

For a morning cocktail, bourbon maple syrup livens up drinks like bourbon coffee or spiked milkshakes. It’s also commonly used to sweeten bourbon-based cocktails like the Gold Rush.

Substitution for regular maple syrup

In most recipes, bourbon maple syrup can directly replace pure maple syrup using a 1:1 ratio. The added flavors from the bourbon pair nicely with baked goods like muffins, cakes, or breads. Note that the liquid ratio may need to be adjusted slightly since bourbon maple syrup is typically thinner than regular maple syrup.

Keep in mind that substituting bourbon maple syrup in baked goods may impart a more pronounced boozy flavor because the alcohol does not fully cook off at lower baking temperatures. This could overpower more delicate recipes.

Potential health benefits

Maple syrup contains beneficial antioxidants and minerals like zinc and manganese. Bourbon may also impart some health benefits when consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. These potential benefits may include:

  • Antioxidants that counter damaging free radicals (2)
  • Anti-inflammatory properties that can lower risk of disease (3)
  • Improved heart health by increasing “good” HDL cholesterol (4)
  • Prebiotics that support gut health by feeding probiotics (5)

However, keep in mind that bourbon maple syrup is still high in sugar. Consuming large amounts can potentially contribute empty calories and lead to blood sugar spikes. Enjoy it in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Special diet considerations


Most bourbon maple syrups are vegetarian and vegan friendly, since they are made from plant-based ingredients like corn, maple syrup, and oak. However, check ingredient lists for certain types of bourbon that may use animal products in the production process.


Bourbon maple syrup is naturally gluten free, since bourbon is distilled from corn. Make sure any brand you buy is certified gluten-free, as some facilities may have trace amounts of gluten from other products.


Bourbon maple syrups can often be found certified Kosher Pareve, meaning they contain no meat or dairy products. As long as they have Kosher certification on the label, they are suitable for those following a Kosher diet.


Devout Muslims may want to avoid bourbon maple syrup, as consuming alcoholic beverages is generally prohibited in Islam. Even though the amounts of alcohol are very small, observant Muslims may prefer to stick to plain maple syrup.

Low sugar/diabetic

People with diabetes or those limiting sugar intake should be mindful of portions when using bourbon maple syrup. While it offers unique flavor, it is still high in natural sugar like regular maple syrup. Stick to small drizzles rather than drenching food.

Making your own bourbon maple syrup

You can easily infuse maple syrup with bourbon flavors right at home. Simply combine store-bought maple syrup and bourbon to taste in an airtight container. For stronger flavor, simmer the mixture over low heat for 5-10 minutes to allow the bourbon to fully integrate, then let cool.

When mixing your own, a general guideline is:

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup straight bourbon

This keeps the maple as the primary flavor with the bourbon accentuating the background. Adjust the bourbon amount to your preferred taste. Let the mixture infuse for at least 2 days before using to fully develop the flavors.


Store homemade bourbon maple syrup in the refrigerator to preserve freshness. The flavor will continue improving over the first 1-2 weeks. Use within 2 months for best quality.

Properly sealedcommercial bourbon maple syrup can be stored in the pantry. Refrigeration after opening can extend shelf life.

Safety tips

When cooking and baking with bourbon maple syrup, keep these safety considerations in mind:

  • Supervise children when using due to alcohol content
  • Avoid boiling or heating to high temperatures that could burn
  • Measure carefully when substituting for recipes to avoid changing liquid ratios
  • Store in sealed containers away from heat and light
  • Refrigerate after opening
  • Discard if any mold develops


Does the alcohol evaporate when you cook with it?

Yes, most of the alcohol evaporates when using bourbon maple syrup as an ingredient in cooked or baked goods. Alcohol evaporates at 172°F, and temperatures from baking or stove cooking exceed this. While not 100% of the alcohol cooks off, the vast majority dissipates, leaving behind the bourbon flavor.

Can kids have it?

In the tiny amounts used to top foods like pancakes, bourbon maple syrup is likely fine for children. However, some parents may still wish to avoid giving alcohol-containing products to children. Plain maple syrup is an easy alternative.

Does it need to be refrigerated after opening?

Refrigeration can help extend the shelf life of opened bourbon maple syrup by slowing mold growth and flavor deterioration. It is especially important for homemade syrups. But even commercial versions should be refrigerated after opening for best quality.

Is bourbon maple syrup considered non-alcoholic?

No, bourbon maple syrup still contains alcohol from the added bourbon, so it cannot be classified as a non-alcoholic product. However, the amounts are low enough that it can be safely consumed by most people without causing impairment or intoxication.

What’s the difference between bourbon and whiskey?

Bourbon is a type of American whiskey with specific requirements including being made from a mash containing at least 51% corn and being aged in new, charred oak barrels. Other whiskeys like Scotch and rye have different requirements for grains and aging. But bourbon can generally be substituted for other whiskies in maple syrup recipes.


Bourbon maple syrup offers a tasty twist on traditional maple syrup by infusing it with appealing flavors from bourbon whiskey. While it does contain a small amount alcohol, it is diluted significantly compared to drinking bourbon straight. In the servings used on pancakes or in baking, the alcohol amounts are negligible.

Feel free to drizzle bourbon maple syrup on your breakfast foods and in cocktails and recipes for a hint of sweetness and warmth from the whiskey. Just be mindful of portion sizes, and enjoy it responsibly as you would any product containing alcohol. Refrigerate after opening, use proper safety practices when cooking, and supervise children when using.

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