You might want to put your cup down for this one. Tamworth Distilling, located in New Hampshire, is all about craft and quality spirits. With a wide array of whiskey, Chocorua straight rye, white mountain vodka and garden flora infused gin, this distillery is all about pushing the boundaries with their spirits. And that includes adding castoreum, a secretion from the anal glands of a beaver butt, to one of their bourbon whiskeys.
Don't start gagging at the thought of drinking from a North American Beaver's nether regions- you have probably had castoreum extract without even knowing it. Considered as a GRAS food additive by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), anal secretions from the castor glands of a beaver are perfectly safe to consume. Products will usually list these beaver secretions as a "natural flavoring" as a substitute for vanilla flavoring or even as raspberry or strawberry flavoring in the food ingredient list.
Other than food use, the musky, sticky stuff that comes out of beaver castor sacs is used for luxury products like perfumes, providing that musk smell for brands such as Lancôme Caractère and Givenchy III.
Tamworth Distilling decided to use the secretion as a flavoring agent in their House of Tamworth Eau De Musc after learning about old-fashioned natural flavorings. The castoreum brings fruity raspberry and rich leather notes to the whiskey flavor, along with a creamy vanilla aroma. The two year old bourbon also has birch oil, raspberry and Canadian snakeroot, which is similar to wild ginger, giving the beaver castoreum bourbon "a medley of charming flavors that are sure to impress."
The excretion of castoreum isn't an easy process and requires you to place the animal under anesthesia to milk the castoreum liquid from the glands. So it's no wonder that the 200ml bottles of Eau De Musc will set you back $65. It just begs the question, is putting an innocent beaver under anesthesia worth it?
This post was originally published on June 19, 2018.