The Island Creek Oysters, the Row 34’s, and the Aunt Dotty’s are all grown and crafted by Skip Bennett and the crew in Duxbury Bay, Massachusetts. Yet, they are all unique in their own way, based on the grow-out process, the environment around each oyster, and the decisions that Skip makes along the way. In the wine world, we call this terroir. In the oyster world we refer to it as merroir.
For the first 6 months of an ICO’s life, they are in floating upweller systems, followed by large mesh bags in a rack system (almost like a bunch of floating shelves for oysters). At about 6 months of age (about 3/4" long) they are planted on the bottom of Duxbury Bay. Yes – we shovel them right off the boat and they grow “free range” until harvest.
Tasting notes: The Island Creeks are known for their amazing balance and complexity. Briny from the salt water of Duxbury Bay, vegetal and earthy from hanging out on the mud flats for a full year, and a sweet mushroom finish.
Skip’s first “pivot” from his original Island Creek Oysters. Skip has always grown the Island Creek seed in off-bottom gear before bottom planting them at about 6 months old. Five years ago--in attempt to show the 'hand of the grower' in the final product--Skip decided to leave the 34th row in the trays for the whole grow out process. Hence the name Row 34’s. They are unique in that they grow right next to the Island Creek Oysters, yet never touch the bottom of the Bay, and actually taste different. A perfect example of merroir and of the innovation happening in our industry. These oysters were so good we named a restaurant after them.
Tasting notes: The Row 34’s are a bit cleaner than the Island Creeks. Still briny, but less vegetal, earthy flavors because they are not bottom planted. Clean, crisp with mineral notes. A splash of salt water.
The Aunt Dotty’s are the newest member to the Island Creek portfolio. They are grown about a mile from the Island Creeks right off of Saquish Beach (technically a part of the town of Plymouth) on the tidal lands next to Skip’s cottage. The cottage has been in the family since the days of the pilgrims, and he actually has a deed that proves that he owns the tidal area (only an oyster farmer would really care about this!). Anyway, the Aunt Dotty’s are also grown in trays, but are much more exposed at low tide, and for a longer period of time. They are named after Skip’s great aunt Dotty who was the last relative to live in the cottage year round.
Tasting notes: The Aunt Dotty’s are the most savory of the bunch. While still salty, they have a complex acidity and fullness to them. They have the most intense flavor of the lot and we love them.
*Please be aware that the Row 34 and Aunt Dotty oysters are petite - about 1.5-2"