By: Suzanne Ferrara
A dream come true seems to have simultaneously put the small town of Lacassine, Louisiana on the map and award-winning Louisiana handcrafted rums on the palates of spirit drinkers around the globe.
Over the past four years, hundreds of thousands have made their way to the Bayou Rum Distillery, which was named the No. 1 Attraction of the Year for 2016 by the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association. The state-of-the-art distillery, which is located on the frontage road paralleling Interstate-10, sits on 22 acres with a 109-year old farm house, natural ponds, a sugar cane field, and a visitor’s center.
You are in for a full ‘rum’ treat here. Visitors who pass through these distillery doors quickly learn how the entrepreneurial spirit has not only showcased Louisiana’s agricultural industry, but has also created a driving tourism hot spot for the Pelican State. (Fun fact: Back in 1751, the Jesuits began growing sugarcane in Louisiana in order to make rum.)
Once you enter the Louisiana Spirits-owned distillery, you can’t help but be swept away by the atmosphere of what is reminiscent of an old New Orleans warehouse. The combination of eclectic and rustic décor of reclaimed beams, windows and brick melded with the sweet scent of rum liquors and confectionaries is certainly intoxicating. While you will not get intoxicated here, you can take a free one-ounce swig of two of Bayou Rum’s four handcrafted Louisiana rums, which have made them famous in the world of spirits. You’ll also get to taste one of their signature drinks like the Gator Bite, which seems to be a crowd favorite, and you can purchase packaged mixes used to make some of these signature drinks at the gift shop.
Before we get to the mouthwatering rum, let’s talk about what you will experience in this distillery, specifically, a free tour and tasting, which is about 45 minutes long. The tour begins when you enter the viewing room, which is draped in rum making, sugarcane history and Louisiana paraphernalia. From there, you watch a fascinating five-minute film that showcases the state’s historical sugarcane crop, the unmatched landscape of Louisiana, and the humble beginnings of Bayou Rum, which co-founder Trey Litel says started in a duck blind conversation. After watching the film, you will be inspired by the story of a dream come true for both two Lake Charles brothers and their Baton Rouge friend, and the celebration of our state’s agricultural heritage. (Fun fact: The audience watches the film while sitting on church pews salvaged from a late 1800s church in New Orleans.)
After the film, you’ll walk into the bottling room and, if you’re lucky, there will be a line of empty bottles about to be filled before your eyes. All of the Bayou Rums are produced every day at the Lacassine site. The process is pretty impressive, and they walk you through the pasteurization, fermentation, distillation, barrel aging, and bottling steps. The science of how the distillers use a traditional copper pot and 100 percent natural unrefined Louisiana cane sugar and molasses is an education unto itself and sure to excite rum lovers’ senses.
After getting an ear and eyeful of the processing comes the moment you’ve been waiting for. Visitors head to the tasting bar where they not only learn about their four distinct rums, but also drink free samples of two of the four rums of their choosing. Those rums are: Bayou Silver Rum, a white classic mixing rum; Bayou Satsuma Rum, a refreshing citrusy rum; Bayou Select Rum, a classic dark aged sipping rum; and Bayou Spiced Rum, made with characteristic traditional spices. (Tip: According to the manager, Bayou Satsuma Rum and Bayou Select Rum are the distillery’s top sellers.) (Recipe tip: One of the founder’s wives likes to mix the Bayou Silver with lemonade, which she says is “dangerously delicious,” and she enjoys topping off her champagne with the refreshing Bayou Satsuma.)
As mentioned earlier, you’ll also get a taste of one of Bayou Rum Distillery’s specialty drinks, and these concoctions change every day. The Gator Bite is one of its most popular specialty drinks and contains three of the aforementioned rums: the Silver, Spiced and Satsuma. By the way, the recipe for Gator Bite and several other rum recipes is on the Bayou Rum website.
If its mouthwatering rum cakes are in stock, visitors are in for yet another treat, courtesy of a sampling of this amazing confection. The original spiced rum cake, made with the Bayou Spiced Rum, and chocolate satsuma rum cake, made with Bayou Satsuma Rum, are not only scrumptious, but addicting as well. Oh, and be sure to try the distillery’s rum-filled chocolates, which will certainly melt in your mouth. (Tip: You have to be 21 years old to buy the rum cakes and confections.)
(Tip: By request, if you are bringing a group or holding an event at the distillery, they will have Gator Chateau, an alligator rescue facility, bring a baby alligator of whom everyone can hold and take photographs.)
Remember to make sure you have room in the car for any and all the treats you’ll be purchasing at the Bayou Rum Distillery gift store. In addition to quality gifts and sweet treats, they sell rum in four sizes including a new 1.75-liter bottle; the smallest, by the way, is 200-ml and the largest 1.75 liter. You can also purchase the aforementioned products and much more online (see website information below).
Hungry? Just a few minutes away are two great local restaurants, Rabideaux’s Sausage Kitchen and Lil Couchon Cajun Kitchen; at both you can enjoy flavorful plate lunches, po’boys, homemade sausage, cracklins, boudin and much more.
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