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Fighting invasive crabs — with whiskey

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

It's small. It's green. It's a crustacean. And now it's in whiskey.

WILL ROBINSON: 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 then when you actually - if you can get them to taste it, they totally change their tune for the most part.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Will Robinson is a product developer at Tamworth Distilling. He decided one way to tackle the invasive species, green crabs, was to try to bottle them. First, he distills the crab stock in a vacuum still.

ROBINSON: It looks like a crazy piece of laboratory equipment. It's taller - I'm 6'4", and it's taller than I am. The pot, so to speak, that the liquid goes in is a bulbous-shaped glass piece that holds about 20 liters - it has a volume of about 20 liters of liquid.

SUMMERS: Then he adds spices like paprika, dill and cinnamon, and everything is mixed with a bourbon base.

CHANG: It takes about a pound of crabs to make each bottle of whisky, but it's going to take a lot more to get the green crab population under control.

GABRIELA BRADT: Because there's so many of them - there's so many of them. They are probably one of the most successful invasive species that we have in North America, at least in the marine world.

SUMMERS: Dr. Gabriela Bradt - she's a fisheries specialist at the University of New Hampshire.

BRADT: 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, right?

SUMMERS: So even though crab whiskey alone can't fix the problem, Bradt says she hopes it helps by raising awareness.

CHANG: And speaking of raising awareness, Juana, I understand that you get to have a taste of some of this green crab whiskey right there in the studio in D.C.

BRADT: That is right. We're going to try it out. I'm going to smell it first. OK. So there's a lot of spices going on here. I definitely smell the paprika they talked about.

CHANG: So does it actually taste like crab in any way?

BRADT: No, I do not taste any crab. But there is a nice little heat - maybe, like, a cousin twice removed from Fireball. We'll mail you some.

CHANG: (Laughter). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kai McNamee
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
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