Steven Grasse and Tamworth Distilling, the makers of famed wilderness-inspired spirits such as Eau De Musc, The Deerslayer Whiskey, and Bird of Courage, are once again pushing boundaries with the release of House of Tamworth Crab Trapper – Green Crab Flavored Whiskey. The ‘seacret’ ingredient in their newest innovation, the green crab, is an invasive species of crab that is wreaking ecological and economic havoc along the New England coast.
This latest non-vegan debut from the New Hampshire distillery aims to create new avenues for culling the invasive species of green crab responsible for ravaging the New England corridor of shellfisheries, destroying coastal seagrass beds, and shifting entire ecosystems. Tamworth Distilling has recruited the team behind University of New Hampshire’s NH Green Crab Project to develop this new whiskey as a way of exploring new ways to weaken the crustaceans’ grip and bolster the local fishing industry at the same time.
“Green crabs are incredibly invasive so one of my goals as a researcher is to try and help create viable fisheries and markets as a solution to help mitigate the problem,” said Gabriela Bradt, fisheries specialist, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension & NH Sea Grant. “This collaboration is a really unique and exciting opportunity to do that as well as help educate the public about green crabs, climate change and sustainability.”
Green crabs can be a fisherman’s nightmare – burrowing up 6 to 8 inches into the sand and eating up to 40 or 50 clams, oysters, or mussels – a day. Along with being a nuisance to fishermen, they are very destructive to the ecosystem and are worsening with the increase in water temperature because of climate change. They have no natural predators and currently, there is no strategy in place to control the populations of green crabs and there is no real commercial market or fishery for these invaders.
Tamworth Crab Trapper – Green Crab Flavored Whiskey is made from a bourbon aged just shy of four years that has been distilled using a modified sour mash approach and the same grain bill as the distillery’s Old Man of the Mountain Bourbon (82.4% organic corn, 11% organic Maine rye, 6.6% malted barley). This makes for an ideal base spirit with enough character to stand up to infusing and flavoring. Over 90 lbs. (thousands) of green crabs were harvested from the Seabrook, NH region by a local trapper and delivered to the distillery to be cleaned and cooked down to a crab stock. When cooled it was then fortified with Tamworth-made NGS and distilled on Tamworth’s large rotary vacuum still until the ideal crab essence was achieved.
This crustacean concoction was then blended with the bourbon base and steeped with a custom spice blend mixture consisting of paprika, bay, mustard seed, coriander seed, dill seed, cinnamon, clove, and allspice – reminiscent of a low-country boil. As a result, the spirit presents strong notes of maple, vanilla, and caramel on the nose, with the more dominant flavors like cinnamon, clove, and all-spice giving off an unexpected heat likened to what distillery founder, Steven Grasse, describes as a “briny and better Fireball.”
“All of us at Tamworth Distilling are passionate outdoor enthusiasts. Sustainability and the wilderness surrounding our facility in Tamworth, New Hampshire, is a major source of inspiration for all new products. The unexpected results of these wild experiments are why we love using local flora and fauna as ingredients in our spirits,” said Grasse. “Totally unexpectedly crab and whiskey do in fact go together – but who knew the unique flavor combination would create an all-natural and sustainable riff on Fireball? We certainly didn’t!”
“As ocean temperatures have increased, the populations of these crabs continue to explode. Currently, there is no strategy in place to control the populations of green crabs, and there is no real commercial market or fishery for these invaders,” said Will Robinson, distiller at Tamworth Distilling. “Green crabs are edible, although they are notoriously low yield, providing significant challenges to being used in traditional culinary creations so we could not be more excited about the spirit savants at Tamworth creating this harm to dram spirit!”
Bottled at 46% ABV, Tamworth Crab Trapper is priced at $65 per 200ml bottle and is available in limited quantities while supplies last online through Seelbach’s, Philadelphia’s Art in the Age, and at Tamworth Distilling in New Hampshire.