Before we even start talking about this beaver-flavored whiskey, let’s get one thing out of the way. Tamworth Distilling is not hunting down beavers to make booze. The New Hampshire company, which often uses foraged ingredients for its spirits and works with many local suppliers, teamed up with a beaver trapper who works with the state to control its beaver populations. The trapped beavers are used for their meat, their fur and, in the case of this new spirit, their castor sacs. It is completely humane.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Eau de Musc.
Using castoreum (the excretion from beavers’ castor sacs, located near the anal glands) as a flavoring or aromatic agent is nothing new. Perfume makers use it for its leathery scent and it’s also used in food and drink production as a substitute for vanilla or, occasionally, in raspberry or strawberry flavorings. So you’ve almost certainly ingested beaver at one point in your life, albeit unknowingly. It’s also not new to alcohol. In Sweden you can get Bäverhojt, a schnapps flavored with the musk. But that doesn’t make this beaver whiskey any less intriguing.
From the brain of Steven Grasse, the man behind Tamworth Distilling as well as companies like Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry, Eau de Musc is 88-proof, 2-year-old whiskey flavored with wild ginger, birch oil and beaver. On the nose it certainly smells musky, like overripe apples, allspice and vanilla. The flavor is remarkably complex, starting out with some preserved lemon notes, washing through peppery, vanilla-tinged pear and finishing with a flavor you just can’t put your finger on—beaver, we have to assume. It is extremely drinkable and it fills every corner of your mouth with its buttery texture, leaving a lingering heat in your chest. It is definitely a sipping whiskey, meant to be served neat.
Understandably, Eau de Musc is a limited release. It’s available now online for $65. If you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan, this is not for you. But if you’re at all curious, do yourself a favor and buy a bottle. It’s much more than just a curiosity. It’s good whiskey.