Archive | July, 2012

Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickles

10 Jul

Pickle jar

Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickles

A food review by Daniel B.

You may ask yourself what Brooklyn made pickles are doing on a Hudson Valley local-food blog. And that would be a fair question. Except these aren’t just any pickles. Plus, while they’re made in Brooklyn, they use organic maple syrup from New York and small-batch distilled whiskey from the Finger Lakes.

These are Brooklyn Brine’s Spicy Maple Bourbon pickles.

The only thing is that they aren’t actually made with bourbon, but I’m not going to hold that against them. People get confused all the time. Spicy Maple Rye would actually be more precise, but to some people that might incorrectly suggest bread or perhaps even caraway seeds. So before I can tell you about the pickles, here’s a quick primer on whiskey.

Whiskey is a distilled spirit that is made from a fermented grain mash and typically aged in wood casks. The most popular American whiskey is bourbon which is made from a mash that’s at least 51% corn and aged in new charred-oak barrels. That’s a little bit technical. The bottom line is that all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Take rye whiskey for example. It is made from a mash that’s at least 51% rye. And it is not bourbon.

Here in New York State, we have a few distilleries who are making rye from local grain. One of them is Finger Lakes Distilling, with distiller Thomas Earl McKenzie at the helm. He’s an interesting guy who makes a fantastic rye whiskey.


It’s the McKenzie Rye that goes into every jar of these delightful pickles. But these aren’t a boozy affair. Far from it. The whiskey is judiciously employed as just another seasoning to deeply flavor these verdant disks that were once humble cucumbers. To get this depth of flavor Brooklyn Brine uses only kitchen cabinet ingredients; those would be apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, habanero peppers, cane sugar, whiskey, onions and spices.

Subsequently, the predominant flavor of these is sweet and sour, but there is enough smouldering heat to let you know its there. The maple and whiskey take more of a background role, providing nuance and notes that surely would be lacking in their absence. The whole spices that are in every jar include coriander and mustard seeds. And the onions that are packed in there are delicious to munch on too. More adventurous eaters may try to carefully eat the pickled habanero, which turned out not to be nearly as fiery as I expected.

These crinkle cut pickles would be great for dressing up a hamburger and would bring a new dimension to deviled eggs. Or you can simply eat them as a summertime snack to help cleanse or perk up your palate. There will be some who will be tempted to use the brine from their empty jar as a pickleback, but I’ve never tried. Perhaps I’m missing out.

Even the self proclaimed Pickle Freak after having a full tour of Brooklyn Brine’s operation by its owner Shamus Jones, couldn’t get these Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickles out of her mind.

They are really good. Get a jar before summer’s over. Because even though the whole point of pickling is preservation of summer’s bounty, pickles still feel very much like a summertime treat.

About Daniel B.

A west coast transplant now living in Albany, Daniel Berman is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany.