As It Happens

This new whisky is flavoured with beaver anal secretions

A new whisky being served up in New Hampshire is called Eau de Musc — and it's flavoured using the scent glands from a beaver's anal region.

'It's got this really interesting, lasting berry quality,' says distiller Jamie Oaks

A New Hampshire whisky-maker has decided that beaver anal sacs provide the perfect ingredient to add to its new line of spirits. (Tamworth Distilling)

Leave it to beavers to bring more flavour to the whisky game.

A New Hampshire distillery has introduced a new whisky, titled Eau de Musc, that gets its flavour from — in a manner of speaking — beaver butts.

"It's called castoreum, the actual secretion," explained Jamie Oaks, the head distiller at Tamworth Distilling in Tamworth, N.H.

"That's what's in our whisky."

Castoreum comes from a beaver's castor sac near the base of its tail; the animal releases the secretion to mark its territory in the wild.

'Surprisingly familiar' taste

The idea of anal secretions might not bring sweet smells and flavours to mind, but in the case of beavers it should, according to Oaks.

"It's really vanilla and raspberry-like and it's got this really interesting, lasting berry quality," Oaks told As It Happens host Carol Off.

Castor sacs are located near the base of a beaver's tail, and produce a scent used to mark their territory. (CBC)

"It's surprisingly familiar. It's an old flavourant that is used in things like strawberry and raspberry artificial flavourings."

That's the spirit

With the help of New Hampshire-area trapper Anton Kaska, Tamworth Distillery is able to source the castor sacs locally, and the castoreum is added to the whisky.

"Anton uses all parts of the beavers; he uses the pelt and sells that, he eats the meat, and then these castor sacs are used as lures for other beaver trapping endeavours," Oaks said.

"A little bit goes a long way, so he ends up having quite a surplus of castor sacs."

Jamie Oaks, head distiller at the New Hampshire-based distillery, says you may have consumed castoreum in a food product without realizing it. (Tamworth Distilling)

Castoreum falls under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "generally recognized as safe" category, alongside ingredients like beeswax and bovine liver extract.

Oaks said that castoreum is an ingredient in many food products to enhance flavours like vanilla, strawberry and raspberry.

"It opens up the conversation to where food comes from," he said.

"[People] might have eaten it and not known."

Written by Emilie Quesnel. Interview produced by Chris Harbord.