•  Sugarmaker Steve Osborn of Osborn Family Sugar House in Boscowen, N.H. holds the Carlisle Cup on Saturday, May 22 after winning the prize for the state's best syrup after 46 years of trying.

  •  The Lawrence A Carlisle Memorial Trophy awarded for the best syrup in the state of New Hampshire. This year's winner was Osborn Family Sugar House of Boscowen, N.H. The judging contest is known to be the most rigorous in the industry.

He finally won it! After four and a half decades of trying N.H. sugarmaker wins top prize for syrup

By PETER GREGG | MAY 24, 2021

BOSCOWEN, N.H.—Persistence pays off.

It took 46 years, but Steven Osborn of Osborn Family Sugar House in Boscowen, N.H. finally won the Carlisle Cup, known formally at the Lawrence A Carlisle Memorial Trophy, the prize for being judged the best syrup in New Hampshire.

“I’ve been chasing this thing a long time,” Osborn said on Saturday, cradling the cup following his win at the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association held in Plymouth, N.H.

Osborn, who sugars off of 200 taps with his son Jeffrey, first started attending NHMPA meetings in 1974, and most every year entered his syrup in the association’s judging contest, known to be the most rigorous in the U.S. maple industry.

Until Saturday, the best he’d done was a third place ribbon.

“Congratulations to Steve on your great diligence and perseverance,” said David Kemp, the newly elected president of the NHMPA.  “May the next Carlisle come easier.”

The winning syrup was from a batch of Amber rich on the second boil of the season in early March of last year.

Osborn said he had a good feeling about the syrup when it came off the rig and jarred it up that day, marked it “Fair 2020” and put it in his freezer.

Then the pandemic came.

The rules of the Carlisle contest call for syrup to go through a series of semi-finals by winning third place or better at one of New Hampshire’s 11 local fairs before it can be entered into the NHMPA contest.

But all fairs and the association annual meeting were canceled in 2020 due to Covid.

Bylaws of the contest were amended by the NHMPA last summer and sugarmakers were allowed to drop off their entry at one of the NHMPA’s container dealers.

The entries were judged in December by University of New Hampshire extension maple specialist Stephen Roberge.

Runners up this year were Scarinza Sugar House of Randolph, N.H. who won the cup in 2019.

Osborn said he boils “the old fashioned way,” making syrup on an old Grimm Lightning 2x6 wood-fired evaporator and no reverse osmosis.

The Carlisle award is presented annually by the NHMPA for excellence in production of maple syrup. All entries are judged by the state’s standards for density, clarity and flavor.

Any NHMPA member can enter, and participation from novice to advanced sugarmakers is encouraged.

The award is named for Lawrence A. Carlisle, commissioner of agriculture in the 1920s and 1930s, who was devoted to the development of the maple industry in New Hampshire and best known for introducing the maple grading system.