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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
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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