I was talking to a friend of mine who has a large operation by my standards...6-7k taps or so. he had a fellow producer, who's operation is 4-5 miles down the road, offer to bring some of his barrels to be dropped off at the packer for him. He said sure and went along for the ride. the guy had 64 or so barrels to drop off... they were all off flavored (ouch!). slightly, but nonetheless of flavored. my friend said it was very, very hard to detect but there was something there. this guy has produced syrup for years and has never made any off flavored syrup before the very end of the season and usually quits when he notices. the folks at the packer said that they have been seeing this from other producers throughout the region. I've seen the guys set up and two of his bushes. he has a huge operation... 15k-20k taps +... everything is cleaned after each boil... evaporator, tanks, ro's etc... what could be the cause of this? they said it had a slight woody aftertaste. some odd ph levels within the soils?, warm winter? a few longs stretches of warm weather with sap spoiling in the lines (with 10s of thousands of gallons a day I'd doubt it?)? I believe they sent samples for Dr Tim's group to check out. my friends was pretty nervous after that, but the folks at the packer told him he had the nicest fancy syrup they've seen so far this year, as they've noticed the syrup quality hasn't been as good as it has in years past. sorry for the long post, but I'm just curious as to what the causes could be. I'm sure there's lots of possibilities. from what I understand he's going to boils small amounts from each of his bushes and see if he can find the issue.