Hillcroft Farm wins Carlisle Award for best NH maple syrup

March 15. 2017 12:41PM
Members of the Peak family pose with their blue ribbon. Maple syrup produced at the family’s Hillcroft Farm in New Boston won this year’s Carlisle Award for best New Hampshire-made maple syrup. (Courtesy)

The New Hampshire Maple Producers Association awarded this year’s Lawrence A. Carlisle Memorial Trophy for the best New Hampshire-made maple syrup to Hillcroft Farm in New Boston. Hillcroft Farm is a small-scale producer of maple syrup, producing syrup the traditional way, by tapping maple trees and boiling the sap over a wood fire. This is the first time Hillcroft Farm has been awarded the top prize.

As a small producer with a small budget, Charles “Charlie” Peak, master syrup maker of Hillcroft Farm, has always concentrated on the quality of the syrup by working with sap that is as clean and fresh as possible. He said, “To be judged by people who are experts in the maple industry is a huge honor.”

Charlie’s passion for creating maple syrup starts with family. “My grandfather let me drive a team of horses pulling a sled with a large gathering tank because the snow was too deep for me to collect the sap buckets. So when I am trudging through 3 feet of snow in early February tapping trees, it brings me back to that time, and I am stimulated by dad and grandfather.”

Commonly referred to as the Carlisle Award, the award is presented annually by the NHMPA for excellence in production of maple syrup. Entries are judged on density, clarity and flavor. Any of the 400-plus members can submit an entry. The award is named for Lawrence A. Carlisle, a commissioner of agriculture in the 1920s and 1930s, devoted to the development of the maple industry in New Hampshire and best known for introducing the maple grading system.

Each year, the NHMPA recognizes the top five producers. This year, second place went to Akins Family Sugarhouse in Washington; third place to the Sugar House at Morning Star Farm in Plaistow; fourth place to Journey’s End Maple Farm in Pittsfield; and fifth place to the Outback Sugar Shack in Boscawen.

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