Skip to main content

Weird but cool: Saison de frai, a smoked trout flavored brandy, is now available

Smoky and sweet - what's not to love?

A bottle of Saison de Frai brandy.
Tamworth Distilling / Tamworth Distilling

Trout is not something one generally thinks of when they imagine brandy ingredients. But if the brains behind crab whiskey taught us anything, it’s to be a little more open-minded.

Saison de Frai has dropped, a brandy made with actual trout roe. Before you roll your eyes and write the beverage off as weird for the sake of weird, hear us out — this stuff is bizarre, sure, but it’s also fascinating.

The distillery responsible for Saison de frai

Tamworth Distilling is behind the project. The New Hampshire Distillery is no stranger to stuff like this, having turned out Crab Trapper — a surprisingly tasty release — in the past. There’s always a justifiable reason for the release beyond the obvious marketing value and shock factor. With the crab whiskey, distiller Steven Grasse was working with a surprisingly complementary flavor while spotlighting an environmental issue (green crabs being an invasive species).

Now, we’ve moved on to New Hampshires’s state fish, the brook trout. It’s near and dear to Grasse, whose distillery is set near the Swift River and its struggling population of native trout. The brandy is a collaboration with Trout Unlimited. One dollar of every bottle sold will fund the environmental organization.

What to expect from trout brandy

Let’s get to the brandy, which comes in a decidedly cool bottle. It’s a work of art, from the fish egg-looking top to the typography on the label. It comes wearing a dry fly (a Royal Coachman for the fly-fishing people out there keeping score at home) in the spirit of all things trout. But what of the liquid? It’s made with trout roe and preserved in apple brandy. The brand likens the texture to tapioca pearls in bubble tea.

There’s nothing new about flavored spirits. We’ve seen plenty in the last several years, from market reshapers like cinnamon and peanut butter whiskies to yuzu vodka. But we don’t see nearly as many savory options, let alone fishy ones. Legend has it the distiller dreamt up the concoction while watching anglers cast for trout near his office. It follows their nature-leaning ethos, which tends to start hyper-local.

The gist is this: The brandy is made from a distillate of smoked trout, specifically sustainably farmed Riverence trout. The fish sits in brandy and then is blended with Tamworth Garden VSOP Apple Brandy (made from New Hampshire apples). It’s then treated to a little scoop of trout eggs. Grasse says the beverage captures his state’s terroir, with flavors of maple, orchard fruit, smoke, and a little funk for good measure. Sweet, salty, fruity, and a little wild — we’re very interested.

Considering the popularity of caviar and the savory Martini craze, perhaps it’s not so strange after all. You can order the brandy as we speak. We’ll see if it becomes the viral sensation that the crab whiskey became.

Learn More

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
How to make a heavenly Sidecar cocktail
It's a classic cocktail for a reason — let us show you how to add the Sidecar to your cocktail repertoire
Sidecar cocktail

Cognac is back, and it's anything but your granddaddy's go-to drink. The grape-based spirit within the brandy family has undergone a renaissance and one of its best forms, the classic Sidecar cocktail, is coming back to life in bars across the country.

Western France's most famous distilled export jumped an estimated 15% in sales in 2023. It's being appreciated more and more for its wine-like complexity and inventive cocktail bars all over the globe are finding new ways to use the stuff.

Read more
What is pisco? Exploring South America’s grape brandy
Introducing this unique brandy and how to drink it
Pisco sour

What is pisco, you ask? Pisco is one of the many sub-ategories of grape brandy — a spirit distilled from fermented grape juice (aka wine). Just as Armagnac, cognac, and American brandy each have rules and regulations on how and where they can be made, so does pisco.

Pisco hails from South America and can only be produced in Chile or Peru. In the mid-16th century, Spanish conquistadors brought European grapes to South America, where they planted many vines for fruit. After a surplus of fruit due to Spain's decision to limit wine exports, locals were forced to think of other methods to preserve their wines and opted for distillation — a relatively new concept at the time. By the 17th century, the first piscos were made (at the time, they were referred to as Aguardientes), and they eventually made their way into North America, where they became popular in U.S. cities, including San Francisco. They can be sipped neat or as part of a cocktail like the pisco sour.

Read more
Bourbon vs. whiskey: The differences explained
All bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons
A trio of whiskeys

If you're confusing your whiskey and bourbon, you're not alone. The drinks industry is full of little nuances, often born of geography and different ingredients and materials available. Just ask the vast categories of sparkling wine (Champagne or Prosecco?), IPA (hazy or West Coast?), and brandy (cognac or Armagnac?). They're full of sub-categories, stylistic tweaks, and ongoing riffs.

But you should probably know the difference between bourbon and whiskey. Not only is it good knowledge to keep in your back pocket, but it'll help inform your sipping going forward, offering context for flavor variations and -- hopefully -- exposing you to new and enjoyable options. Keep reading on to learn more about bourbon vs. whiskey and exactly what is whiskey.
What is whiskey?

Read more