LACASSINE — Proprietors of the new Louisiana Spirits rum distillery in rural Jeff Davis Parish want to dispel the belief that good rum only comes from the Caribbean.
“It’s amazing that Louisiana with all its sugarcane has never had a world-class rum,” Louisiana Spirits President Trey Litel said.
“There is no reason why rum made in the United States can’t be the best in the world, and Louisiana produces more sugarcane than any Caribbean island. Our goal is for Bayou Rum to become America’s rum.”
Louisiana Spirits, makers of Bayou Rum, recently opened the doors of its $8 million distillery, just off I-10, to the public for free tours and tastings.
“I think it is a very unique and new experience for Jeff Davis Parish,” Litel said. “One that can ultimately drive the sales tax revenues for the state and the parish.”
The 20-minute tour begins with a brief video of the history of sugarcane in Louisiana before visitors are given a guided tour on how Bayou Rum is pasteurized, fermented, distilled, aged and bottled. The tour ends at a handmade cypress copper-top tasting bar where adults can sample the rum.
The rum is made in a traditional copper pot still using unrefined Louisiana cane sugar and molasses, following Louisiana Spirits own “sugar house” recipe, according to Litel.
“I think most people will find the process very interesting because it’s not something you see every day,” Litel said.
The distillery has stirred a lot of interest since its silver and spiced Bayou Rum hit the store shelves in July. It is now available statewide, including 10 locations inside the Superdome in New Orleans.
“A lot of people, even in neighboring areas, are aware of us and have been following our progress for the last 2 1/2 years,” Litel said.
Nearly 7,000 people follow the company on its Bayou Rum and Louisiana Spirits websites and Facebook pages.
“The top two questions people always ask is, ‘When are you going to be open?’ and ‘What are you going to do with that old house?’ ” he said, referring to a 1903 farmhouse moved to the property from nearby Iowa.
One target audience for the distillery is the 40,000-plus travelers who drive up and down the interstate daily, he said.
“A lot of people travel through Louisiana, especially during football and hunting season,” he said. “We expect to attract those folks because it will be a good stopping point with clean restrooms.”
Keith Landry of Lafayette was among those visiting the facility for the first time last week.
“I’ve been hearing about it and waiting for it to open,” Landry said. “I saw the ‘Now Open’ sign, so I came in to get a few things for my friends and family.”
Area tourism officials are excited about the opening “because they have something new to offer,” Litel said.
Economic development officials say the distillery will help add value to local agricultural products.
“Everybody wants Louisiana food and products,” Louisiana Spirits partner Skip Cortese said. “We want to be one of those products people are talking about.”
Louisiana Spirits hopes visitors will find the historic charm of the building appealing.
Wooden beams from a century-old textile mill in North Carolina, old pews from a New Orleans church damaged during Hurricane Katrina, and reclaimed bricks and wrought-iron fencing give Louisiana Spirits a feeling of the old South.
Plans are underway to add a small museum with exhibits — including a 30-gallon pot still similar to those used in the early 1800s and a cane presser. Renovations are continuing on the century-old farmhouse, which will host special events and provide more office space.
The distillery and gift shop are open 9:30 a.m.-5:30-p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Tours are available 10-11 a.m. and 2-3 p.m.
There are no public tours on Mondays. But the gift shop — featuring Bayou Rum merchandise and Louisiana souvenirs and LSU items — is open.
Tours and tastings are free. No children are allowed in the tasting bar area.
The facility is at 20909 South I-10 Frontage Road in Lacassine.
Original Story at American Press.