LACASSINE — A billboard along Interstate 10 announcing a distillery coming soon is already drawing curious onlookers’ eyes to the construction nearby.
Trey Litel, president of Louisiana Spirits, hopes to be producing the first test batches of locally made rum at the $8 million facility by January with full production under way by the spring.
“We’re very anxious to get it going,” Litel said. “There is a lot of interest out there, and we can’t wait to bring our rum to the market.”
The company plans to produce up to 1,000 cases a week of clear, dark rum and spiced rums using local sugar cane, molasses and other raw materials at its 23-acre site along the South Frontage Road in Lacassine.
M.A. Patout and Sons, near Jeanerette, will provide molasses and raw sugar for the rum. The company, family owned and operated, has been producing sugar for seven generations.
“We know we will be getting the best Louisiana has to offer because they have great relationships with sugar cane farmers, and they have a solid management team at the sugar mill consistently producing every harvest season since 1829,” Litel said.
Most of the products will leave the distillery in custom-designed bottles. The dark rum will be aged in American oak barrels. The visitor center, constructed of 100-year-old timbers and reclaimed brick, will feature a viewing room with exhibits.
“I think we are going to be a tourist destination and something all of Louisiana can be proud of,” Litel said. “We want visitors to learn about the great history of Louisiana sugar and see how we make rum out of Louisiana sugar cane.”
Guided tours of the facility will allow visitors to see how the rum is made. A tasting area and courtyard will allow adults to sample the local spirits, which will be sold in a gift shop.
“There is a lot of traffic going through on I-10,” head distiller Jeff Murphy said. “They will be able to stop by the distillery and learn more about the history of sugar cane and rum in Louisiana.”
The viewing room will include a large-screen TV, showing an eight-minute video on the history of rum in Louisiana and the sugar cane industry. “We want it to be informative with a ‘how it’s made’ style,” Litel said.
“So for somebody visiting the state, this will be real informative about the sugar industry in Louisiana.”
The facility will also mean jobs and economic activity for the area, he said.
The company expects to employ nearly a dozen people in the beginning and to increase that number as production expands, Litel said.
“It’s also going to generate sales taxes for the parish and state and federal excise taxes,” he said. “We are excited about our progress, and we can’t wait to welcome our first visitors.”