'Chicken Bones' liqueur made with distinctive Maritime candy a hit in N.B.

A bottle of Chicken Bones Liqueur is shown in this handout image. For generations, a hard candy known as Chicken Bones has been a Christmas tradition in the Maritimes, but now a new drink that mixes the candy with liquor is in big demand this holiday season.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Moonshine Creek Distillery

FREDERICTON - For generations, the pink hard candy known as Chicken Bones has been a Christmas treat in the Maritimes, and now a new drink that draws inspiration from the candy's distinct flavour is in big demand this holiday season.

Moonshine Creek Distillery in Waterville, N.B., has partnered with St. Stephen-based candymaker Ganong to produce Chicken Bones Liqueur — combining the cinnamon-chocolate candy with corn spirits.

The limited supply quickly sold out to people willing to line up outside New Brunswick liquor stores on a few occasions this month.

"We never had success with a product like this prior," said Jeremiah Clark, who started the distillery in 2018 with his brother Joshua. "We never expected it to take off like this."

Clark said the idea came out of a workshop they held last holiday season to show people how to make liqueurs with their moonshine products, and one item used was Chicken Bones.

"That recipe was popular and we got a lot of positive feedback on it. So we decided to approach Ganong to see if they'd be interested in collaborating with us, and they really liked the idea," Clark said.

To make the liqueur, the Chicken Bones candy is melted down into a syrup that's mixed with corn spirits.

Clark said they'll produce 10,000 bottles this season, and they're already planning to triple that amount next year. They were only able to sell it in New Brunswick this year, but hope to get approval for sale in other provinces for next Christmas.

The Chicken Bones candy has been produced by Ganong since 1885.

Bryana Ganong, the company's president and CEO, says many people send the candy to friends and relatives across the country each year, and she thinks many people will now be doing the same with the liqueur.

"It has been a great experience to work with these hard-working guys and to see them bring this product to market," Ganong said Wednesday.

Ganong said she was surprised to see the long lineups at liquor stores Tuesday when the second batch of the liqueur went on sale.

She and her brother, Nick, went to Waterville last week to help in the bottling process.

Clark said many families in the Maritimes have an emotional connection with Chicken Bones as part of their Christmas traditions, and he hopes that will now include their liqueur.

"I think they're sending it in care packages to displaced Maritimers around the world," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2019.

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