Published Thursday, January 01, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

Does it pay to buy the priciest syrup in the aisle—and does it even need to be real maple?

  Maple Grove Farms Pure Maple Syrup

“A good balance of maple and sweetness,” “potent,” “clean,” and “intense,” with “good earthy, mapley notes.” “Lovely,” “very sweet and natural,” with a “perfect consistency, not too thick or thin” and “a rich, mapley aftertaste.” In pie, it was “very mild, but tasted real and satisfying.”

Grade A Dark Amber (Product of U.S. and Canada) 62.9g/100g $5.29 for 8.5 ounces (62 cents per ounce)
  Highland Sugarworks

While tasters agreed on our favorite mail-order syrup’s “excellent maple flavor,” described as “intense and complex, well-balanced,” with notes of “whiskey” or “molasses,” a few found it “a bit much” when tasted plain. But this dark syrup shone in pie, earning praise for “very rich, deep” maple flavor.

Grade B Cooking Maple (Product of Vermont) 63.3g/100g $16.95 per pint ($1.06 per ounce)
  Camp Maple Syrup

Tasters found this syrup “clean” and “mild,” with “light maple flavor” that was “pleasantly thin and sweet.” Some described notes of “wood and coffee”; one said it “tastes like trees and mountains.” In pie, it was “mild” and “barely there.”

Grade A Dark Amber (Product of Canada) 61.8g/100g $12.49 for 12.5 ounces ($1 per ounce)
Recommended with Reservations
  Spring Tree Pure Maple Syrup

“A good maple flavor, with thin consistency,” almost “like it wasn’t reduced,” this syrup had a “light body and a slight burned taste,” though it was also deemed “sweet, natural,” and “clearly maple.” A few tasters detected a “slightly acidic” off-note.

Grade A Dark Amber (Product of Canada) 65.4g/100g $9.49 for 12.5 ounces (76 cents per ounce)
Recommended with Reservations
  Maple Gold Syrup

Tasters enjoyed the “solid maple flavor” of this contender, but also noted that it was “thin,” “achingly sweet,” and “slightly off-tasting,” with an “astringent” initial flavor and “citrusy” aftertaste.

Grade A Dark Amber (Product of Canada) 64.9g/100g $5.29 for 8.5 ounces (62 cents per ounce)
Not Recommended
  Kellogg's Eggo Original Syrup

“Very sugary. Slightly plastic. Maple aftertaste, but weak.” In pie, while a minority of tasters liked its “nice, toasted sweetness,” many complained: “Where’s the maple?” and “Yuck. I can taste the chemicals.” In sum: “What’s the point of being the best of the worst?”

    $3.49 for 23 ounces (15 cents per ounce)
Not Recommended
  Aunt Jemima Original Syrup

A few tasters liked this syrup’s “honey and vanilla” notes; one fondly quipped: “The taste I grew up with. Straightforward corn syrup laced with maple.” But most comments were less forgiving: “Fake, viscous corn syrup,” with a “fake maple smell” and “fake butter flavor.”

    $3.59 for 24 ounces (15 cents per ounce)
Not Recommended
  Mrs. Butterworth's Original Syrup

Tasters likened this syrup to “melted candy,” “cheap butterscotch,” and “what a maple-flavored Life Saver would taste like.” One summed it up: “Sweet, thick, vile.” In pie, it was “saccharine sweet,” with “no off-flavors, but not very mapley either.”

    $3.49 for 24 ounces (15 cents per ounce)
Not Recommended
  Log Cabin Pancake Syrup

The “smooth,” “melted caramel” sweetness of this syrup was inoffensive, but tasters found its “salty, strong artificial butter flavor—like movie-theater popcorn” thoroughly off-putting. In pie, it fared better, but most agreed it was “cloyingly sweet.”

    $3.59 for 24 ounces (15 cents per ounce)
Not Recommended
  Hungry Jack Original Syrup

Tasters described this syrup as “super sweet and sloppy, with a vanilla flavor.” They also said it was “thick and buttery, but tastes like corn syrup” and “more sweet than maple.” Its texture was decried as “so thick you could stand a spoon in it,” “like tar,” and “gloppy.”

    $3.99 for 27.6 ounces (14 cents per ounce)