From Under onto the Rocks: Invasive Crabs Turn into Whiskey – Boston News, Weather, Sports

TAMWORTH, NH (WHDH) – CONCORD, NH (AP) – Fancy a hint of crab in your whiskey?

A New Hampshire distillery has developed its latest brew called “Crab Trapper” – whiskey flavored with invasive green crab.

Tamworth Distilling, a craft spirits maker, isn’t afraid to push boundaries with unexpected flavors. In the past, the distillery produced a whiskey using beaver secretions castor bags. Last year it was turkey over the holidays and before that the notoriously pungent smell of durian.

The company said the body of this particular brew has hints of maple, vanilla oak, clove, cinnamon and allspice. And no, you don’t get crab legs in the drink.


In search of a fresh taste, Tamworth Distilling has set its eyes on the sea. Distiller Matt Power said the company heard about the problems caused by the invasive green crabs from Gabriela Bradt of the University of New Hampshire Extension.

The crabs that came over on ships from Europe and landed on Cape Cod in the mid-1700s took the region by storm. These saucer-sized crustaceans are dull green in color and have decimated the region’s marine ecosystem, crowding out native species for food and shelter.

Bradt, a fisheries extension specialist, said the crabs are “so numerous that they’ve really impacted shellfish habitats and fisheries because they’re also voracious predators.” A good example, she said, is the soft shell mussel fishery, which has suffered millions of dollars in losses.


Crabs caught off the New Hampshire coast by fisherman Dwight Souther are taken to the distillery, where they are boiled to create what Power calls “a powerful crab broth.” Power said the broth is fortified with alcohol and then goes through a distillation process that separates the crab’s funky smells from the more inviting flavors.

The goal, Power said, is to get rid of the smells, which he likened to tidal flats, and leave behind those that might evoke “the sea breeze on a warm day down the coast.” Then the distillery adds a corn and spice blend that includes coriander, cinnamon, bay leaf, and mustard seeds. This blend is then placed in a cask with the distillery’s bourbon, which has been aged for several years.


The company said the body of this particular brew has hints of maple and vanilla oak, ending with heavier notes of clove, cinnamon and allspice. What it doesn’t have is anything that might be associated with a crab meal: Although the distillery uses about a pound of crab for each bottle of whiskey, you don’t get crab meat, shells, or claws with your shot.

The distillery’s sales manager, Jillian Anderson, said the whiskey, which is available on site, at Art in the Age in Philadelphia and online, is growing in popularity. In the distillery’s tasting room, Anderson said customers were intrigued but a little hesitant until they heard the story behind the whiskey.


The short answer is no. As Power said, they would have to greatly increase their whiskey production to bring down the number of green crabs. But other efforts are underway to address the crab threat.

For the last six years, Bradt said that NH Green Crab Project has worked to find uses for the crab that are similar to fishing for soft-shelled blue crabs, such as using the green crabs as bait, compost, and including them on local seafood restaurant menus.

Some places, including Ipswich, Massachusetts, have a bounty program that pays fishermen to remove the crabs from estuaries. However, Bradt acknowledged that until these efforts reach a much larger scale, they are unlikely to have a significant impact on crab population numbers.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)

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Nate Jones

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