New Bourbon Gets Its Musk From Beaver Butts

A territory-marking secretion gives this liquor its odor of raspberries and leather.

By Ethan L. Johns
June 14, 2018

Image: Tamworth Distilling

If you like a whiskey with rich, musky undertones, looks like you should be leaving it to beaver.

The folks at Tamworth Distilling in New Hampshire have released a new bourbon flavored with castoreum—a distinctly-scented secretion from the castor sacs of beavers—reported the Associated Press this week.

Castoreum has long been used as a flavoring agent in desserts and medicines, and is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is known to smell like raspberries, leather and vanilla. The fact that the compound has long been in use is curious, especially since it is produced between the beaver’s tail and pelvis, and often contains beaver waste.

While beavers use the secretion to mark their territory, the distillers at Tamworth are using castoreum to complement the barrel-aged flavors of their “House of Tamworth Eau de Musc.” The resulting two-year-old bourbon is blended and flavored with birch bark, Canadian snakeroot, fir needles, and maple syrup, and has tasting notes of vanilla and caramel from the oak and raspberry and leather from Mr. Beaver.

Eau de Musc is sold in 200-milliliter bottles and has an alcohol content of 44 percent by volume.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns