A New Hampshire Distillery Is Making Whiskey From Invasive Crabs


Saving North America's fragile coastlines, one bottle at a time

Green crab caught off the coast of New Hampshire.Jennifer Bakos

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Green crabs are an invasive species that have plagued North America’s coasts for more than 200 years.

After hitching rides on ships bound for the continent in the 1800s, these small crustaceans rapidly began wreaking havoc on local shellfish populations and estuaries.

And according to Dr. Gabriela Bradt, a marine biologist and fisheries specialist at the University of New Hampshire, a combination of a lack of native predators, lack of incentives for crabbers to trap them, and climate change have contributed to a green crab population that is spiraling out of control.

"They are probably one of the most successful invasive species that we have in North America, at least in the marine world," she said. "They can eat about 40 mussels a day, just one crab. And so you multiply that by a bazillion, and you have no more clams."

But one New Hampshire brewery has come up with a rather creative solution – turning them into whiskey.

Enter Tamworth Distilling’s Crab Trapper whiskey, which is flavored by a combination of well-prepared crab stock, spices such as mustard seed, cinnamon, and coriander, and a bourbon base.

Will Robinson, the product developer at Tamworth Distilling who had the idea for the project, said, “People are going to hear crab whiskey, and I'd venture to say three-quarters of them are going to go, 'No, absolutely not,' but if you can get them to taste it, they totally change their tune for the most part.”

Each bottle of Crab Trapper whiskey uses about a pound of crab. Certainly not enough for one brewery to make even a dent in their exploding population.

Still, there is hope that the product will help raise awareness and increase the incentives for commercial harvesting of this invasive species.

Whiskey is just "the hook," Bradt said, to get people informed. "And the more people hear about it, then we get more and more people who might have a really great, innovative idea that we haven't touched upon."

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