Life is sweet on the family farm in Dorset, VT, where Lauren and Austin Felis have built a state-of-the-art maple sugaring operation on 500 pristine acres, producing truly gourmet-quality maple syrup in a variety of flavors under the name Dorset Maple Reserve.
In a state where syrup production occurs in virtually every neck of the woods, what makes Dorset Maple Reserve syrups so special? Austin will tell you it all starts with the “terroir” of the calcium-rich limestone soils on these eastern slopes of Mother Myrick mountain, which imbue the groundwater and the resulting sap flowing from the farm’s 40,000 maples with an exquisite quality you can taste in the final product. Here, mother nature – cold nights followed by warmer days in particular – dictates the rate of return in these woods. On a good day, Austin will collect up to 12,000 gallons of sap, then go to work in his immaculate post-and-beam sugaring facility to masterfully transform the day’s harvest to approximately 300 gallons premium, golden syrup.
Austin started Dorset Maple Reserve on his family’s farm in 2013, commuting from the couple’s Connecticut home for two years during sugaring season, until the growing business convinced them to make the permanent move to Vermont in 2015 with their two young girls, Juniper and Sophia. Trading in corporate jobs to live the dream in Vermont, they’ve never looked back.
Today, Dorset Maple Reserve can be found in discerning gourmet shops in 38 states, including JK Adams’ own Kitchen Store in Dorset and of course, right here. The brand also enjoys major distribution in Australia, Japan, Germany and several other countries. Yet nothing satisfies Austin and Lauren as much as the opportunity to share their powerful potions directly with consumers at artisanal food shows across the country, including a 65-day marathon run at the famed Bryant Park holiday market in New York City.
The secret to their success? First and foremost, it’s the superlative taste and unique flavors in the bottle! You can truly taste the difference between their flagship Rich Amber breakfast syrup and the competition. Then DMR raises the gourmet bar with two signature flavor varieties. Their Bourbon Barrel Aged syrup spends 6 months in select wood barrels once used to age premium bourbon for 3-5 years by an esteemed, “secret” bourbon distiller. After 4-6 months in cask, the syrup acquires beautiful notes of caramel, spice and yes, bourbon. It makes a wonderfully aromatic elixir perfect for signature cocktails and cooking. Infused with the smoky sweetness of Serrano peppers, the truly unique Smoked & Spicy syrup offers of wonderful kick and savory twist to grilled fish, chicken wings and one of our favorites: maple-roasted garlic.
Another key to success: the beautifully designed packaging itself makes Dorset Maple Reserve syrup a distinctive, gourmet gift. Whereas others may use packaging to mask merely average contents, the outstanding flavor inside delivers on the tempting promise of the DMR label.
Last but not least is their unwavering commitment to quality. While Austin controls production with painstaking attention to detail, Lauren is the master of marketing and the creator of exquisite, maple-enhanced recipes. Busting the barriers of breakfast, she evokes savory, spicy and floral qualities in a wide variety of recipes ranging from appetizers to cocktails, dinners and desserts. How lucky we are to share two of her signature recipes here!
Maple Candied Bacon
- 1 lb. good quality bacon
- 2 tbsp. rich amber maple syrup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Wrap baking sheet with tin foil and top with wire rack.
- In a bowl add all ingredients and mix well, add bacon and coat evenly with mixture.
- Place bacon in a single layer onto wire rack. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. (Don't let them sit for too long or they will stick.)