Skip to main content

Would You Drink Whiskey Flavored by Beavers?

Dam, Steven Grasse is at it again.

Grasse, who is the mind behind brands such as Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry, has made a career of making both best-selling spirits and those that push what we conceive of as normal. One of his latest releases certainly does the latter, as it is made with oil extracted from beavers.

Yes, beavers.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Working with his team at Tamworth Distilling and Mercantile, Grasse has created Eau de Musc (“Water of Musk”), an 88-proof, straight bourbon whiskey that is infused with castoreum. Castoreum, for those that have never heard of it, is a substance excreted from a beaver’s castor sac (located just under the tail) and is used in conjunction with urine to mark territory in the wild.

If you think that this sounds absolutely crazy (or disgusting, or both), allow us to play devil’s advocate for a moment.

It may not seem as wild when you realize that castoreum already incorporated in a wide variety of everyday things. In perfume, for example, castoreum is utilized to impart the smell of leather. On the food side of things — yes, it is used in food and more often than you would expect — castoreum is an additive (recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS) that can serve as a replacement for vanilla flavoring; in some other circumstances, it is used for in part to replace strawberry or raspberry. The reason you’ve probably never had to contemplate beaver gland extract in your food is that castoreum is often listed as “natural flavoring” on ingredient lists. Oh, and castoreum is also used to give flavor and odor to cigarettes.

What we’re saying is castoreum gets around and you’ve probably already ingested or worn it at least once in your life, so this whole whiskey thing isn’t actually all that weird. Anyway.

According to the brand, “the full-bodied, two-year aged bourbon whiskey has a bolstered mouthfeel with a vanillin nose and notes of spice. The addition of birch oil, raspberry and Canadian snakeroot, a woody spice akin to ginger, comingle with the natural fruitiness of the castorerum, making the finish warm, crisp, and incredibly palatable.”

To get the castoreum for whiskey, Grasse and his team worked with Anton Kaska, a professional trapper who is known for his commitment to sustainable practices. The castoreum sacs infused with Eau de Musc would normally have been thrown out.

If you want to get your hands on the whiskey, you’ll need to do some traveling — it is only available (in small quantities) at Art in the Age in Philadelphia. It is house in 200 mL vintage-style perfume bottles and retails for $65.

Editors' Recommendations

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
How you can help “Protect the West” with High West Campfire Whiskey
Conservation efforts help wildlands and wildland firefighters
A wildland firefighter works on putting out flames.

The National Interagency Fire Center cites 41 large fires and complexes that have burned 289,515 acres across seven states in the U.S. West so far in 2022. More than 10,100 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to these incidents. While the federal Office of Wildland Fire budgeted $1.5 billion to prevent and suppress fires, and state agencies contribute millions more, it’s the nearby towns and cities that are most affected by these infernos. That’s why the Park City, Utah-based High West Whiskey is one of many local firms that contributes to preserving and uplifting its Western home.

The brand just released its seasonal, nationally acclaimed Campfire not only to satisfy loyal imbibers, but to help preserve the place where it was born through the Protect the West initiative. With Campfire’s 2022 release, High West is elevating its devotion to the people and organizations keeping the Western environment healthy and its protectors safe. Over the next three years, the spirits maker will fortify this commitment with a pledge to give over $1 million in whiskey revenue to fighting wildfires, wildland preservation, and protecting winters from climate change.

Read more
Americans to Buy More Mezcal and Tequila Than Whiskey In 2022
Mezcal from the Sierra Norte de Puebla served with cantaloupe and grasshoppers

For the first time, Americans are anticipated to spend more money on mezcal and tequila than they will on U.S.-made whiskeys or rum in 2022, according to a IWSR Drinks Market Analysis estimates. The British data and analytics firm estimates $13.3 billion in combined agave spirit sales versus $12.5 billion for vodka and $12.3 billion for whiskey. By 2023, IWSR estimates the agave category also will have supplanted vodka, making the potent distillation the U.S.’s most-purchased spirit.

What’s driving this proliferation? Similar to whiskey in the recent past, a number of drivers are escalating agave spirit popularity, including originality, product diversity, and consumer involvement.

Read more
Have You Ever Wondered What Chefs Are Drinking Right Now?
Wine glasses on hanging rack in a bar.

We love a good drink, and when we run out of ideas regarding what to pour in our glass, we reach out. Specifically, to the pros -- vintners, sommeliers, brewers, bartenders, and distillers. This round, we asked chefs what they're sipping on right now. And they offered some enlightening options, from non-alcoholic sodas to post-meal brandy. And with gastronomical senses like that, we're not about to argue with these picks. In fact, we're ready to try them ourselves.

Greg Higgins has been a staple of the Pacific Northwest culinary scene since he launched his eponymous restaurant in 1994. The chef has gifted us with some great recipes, like his take on the hearty Italian fish stew otherwise known as Cioppino. At home, he enjoys a nice mix of coffee, wine, and brandy. "There's always a parade of various beverages in our home," he says.

Read more