If you want a cocktail that’s sure to break the ice at your next summer gathering, try making a bourbon drink using Eau De Musc. This bourbon is partially flavored by castoreum—the substance secreted by male and female beavers(from the pouch-like sacs located near the base of their tails,) and is getting some buzz from adventurous drinkers everywhere.
No need to worry about the conversation dragging at your event; everyone will be talking about beaver-butt bourbon long after the party has ended.
Tamworth Distilling, a New Hampshire distillery are the folks behind this small and unusual batch of bourbon. Castoreum has a vanilla aroma, and according to Tamworth distilleries, “exhibits bright and fruit qualities (raspberry) and rich leathery notes. Head Tamworth distiller, Steven Grasse said in an article on Thedrinksbusiness.com, “I have always been intrigued by the use of castoreum in food and luxury products.”
Seriously, who hasn’t been fascinated by the many uses of the anal sac of the beaver?
The castoreum has been described as goop with the consistency of molasses which ranges in color from yellow and milky to grey and sticky, so it’s not hard to understand why someone would be itching to experiment with it as an ingredient.
Grasse went on to further explain, “I was curious about what would it taste like in one of our unreleased bourbons from Tamworth Distilling—so we tried it and it worked beautifully.
If your first thought is that you’d never consume anything that contained beaver discharge, think again. They’ve been using this substance as a food additive and a medicine since the early 20th Century. In fact, the FDA even considers it a natural flavor—you may have eaten in some office holiday cookies and not even been aware of it. In addition, castoreum has been used in many other types of baked goods as well as candy, ice-cream, pudding, gum, cigarettes, and Swedish Schnapps (BVR-HJT.)
Can you say, “skoal!”
But that’s not all that castoreum can do—it also has healing properties. In the past, this brown slime was used to reduce fevers and treat headaches, earaches, toothaches, gout, and colic. If you suffer from insomnia, you might try castoreum—dreaming about building a dam with your own teeth is a small price to pay for a good night’s sleep.
You may wonder why the castoreum has the scent of vanilla instead of the usual icky smell that most anal sacs have. The answer is that because beavers are herbivores and prefer to eat the wood of quaking aspen, cottonwood, willow, alder, birch, maple, and cherry trees, their secretions have a much sweeter and more pleasant aroma.
Since beavers abstain from drinking alcohol, they use their castoreum to mark their territory and waterproof their fur. However, when they squirt out their castoreum it’s very loud and so it wouldn’t be a smart move for them to squeeze it out when hiding from predators.
As beavers are no longer used for pelts, the humane way and preferred extraction method is to put a beaver under anesthesia and have a human hand milk the castoreum gland. Sources say that milking a beaver isn’t as fun as it sounds, and not only can it be tedious and gross, but the yield is small. If it’s a vanilla scent you want, why not use vanilla bean instead, and save the life of a beaver?
Most bourbons pair well with fattier meats such as bacon and ham, fruit, sweet potatoes, and chocolate. One idea is to set up a charcuterie board with cheeses and sausages. Focus on a particular country or region like Spain to give it an extra Ina Garten flair.
Whether you use Eau De Mus or just regular bourbon, there are all kinds of beaver drinks to try such as The Eager Beaver, The Flamin’ Beaver, The Shaved Beaver, and The Beaver Tail to name a few.
If beaver-booty-bourbon is too tame for your crowd, there’s always Snake and Scorpion Whiskey made with an entire dead cobra and scorpion in every bottle. Don’t worry, the alcohol reportedly takes away the poisonous properties of both. However, there have been some incidents of the snakes coming back to life and biting the drinker, so maybe use a strainer and have some anti-venom on hand just to be on the safe side.