Americas Rum – Welcome to the Bayou Rum Distillery
All pictures taken by MLHobby Photo
Want to try some of the finest quality spirits made right here in the USA? Head South to the proud city of Lake Charles, Louisiana, home of the “The Spirit of Louisiana” the Bayou Rum Distillery. A one of a kind Rum distillery that creates some of the highest quality spirits made state side. Hedonist – Shedonist was invited down by the wonderful people at Bayou Rum and VisitLakeCharles.org, to experience Louisiana’s #1 tour destination first hand.
Our adventure begins 13 feet above sea level in the Calcasieu Parish and the city of Lake Charles. A quaint Southern destination that is unique to any of his Cajun cousins. Fun fact because history is awesome, Lake Chuck was not part of the original Louisiana purchase, so for years it was known as “No Man’s Land”. A lawless area ripe with travelers & bandits, moving through the area or hiding smuggled goods along the swampy shore. I picture it like international waters or Tijuana in the 80’s, a lot of fun with little to no rules. Local legend says Jean Lafitte, famous French-American Pirate, buried treasure here along the shores in the early 1800’s. With multiple documented visits from the famous privateer, there very well could be booty buried in the sand. This is also the inspiration for the Contraband Days festival, a pirate themed extravaganza that is LC’s oldest celebration.
Landing in Lake Charles we were graciously greeted by our amazing guides for this adventure, Amanda and Will. With a big smile and a string of beads, we were greeted in the proper Louisiana way. Quick pleasantries and introductions, we loaded up in a tour bus headed to the The Golden Nugget Lake Charles. A 2 year old destination resort with all the amazing amenities you could expect from any luxury destination stay. With ultra modern rooms, a giant pool + lazy river and 7,000 yards of pristine golf course, this isn’t just a place to go gamble. They also have 11 plus restaurants or cafes to cover any craving, like Vic Anthony’s, Landry’s seafood house or the Cadillac Mexican Kitchen and Tequila bar.
To say food is important in the Southern United states is a giant understatement, it’s very much a tradition and celebration. Louisiana takes that a step further being the Creole capital of this great country. After a spooky themed horse drawn tour around Lake Charles, Our amazing hosts wanted to introduce us to a local favorite Calla. With a constantly changing menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, Chef David Sorrells has created a local hot spot that must be experienced. A former culinary artist at the famous French Laundry, Chef David has brought big city exclusivity and disguised it as small town fair. The residents of Lake Charles can enjoy one of a kind meals, in a bbeautifulmodern venue that doesn’t require you to wear a coat and tie. This is my kind of place, nothing stuffy, just one of kind dishes in the clothes you really want to wear.
The one obstacle when dining at a restaurant like Calla is, what do you choose when you want to try everything?! The answer can only be one thing, try everything!! Started out with the Bone Marrow while sipping a “REDRUM” cocktail, one of the signature Bayou Rum beverages specially made for the evening. The absolute highlight of the meal for me was the Blue Crab Beignets with avocado Jalapeno puree and the Broken Arrow Venison in a lingonberry mop sauce. A large fried ball of fresh Blue crab didn’t need anything fancy to make delicious. The venison was the most tender, flavorful, perfectly prepared cut of game I have ever eaten. Plus, I don’t believe I had ever had lingonberries previous to this meal, so that was an enjoyable new experience. Dessert was a masterpiece too but I was way to stuffed from everything else to indulge. Our night ended back at The Golden Nugget where Blackjack was played and money was won. Perfect way to digest a flawless meal.
Woke up the following morning with one main objective for the day, tour and taste at the Bayou Rum distillery. Just a short drive to Lacassine, you arrive at a beautiful building with the sign Louisiana Spirits proudly displayed. Soon as we walk in we were greeted in the standard southern fashion, hugs, hellos and drinks. Instantly making you feel welcome and comfortable is a trait folks from the south have mastered. As you enter the distillery you instantly see why Bayou Rum has won so many awards. The gift shop itself is full of everything from copper cups to fashionable clothing, not a couple ill fitting T’s or a coozie. I got a great hat that I rock just about every day now.
So many things make the folks at Bayou Rum unique, but when you walk out with a baby gator to hold, it’s a game changer. In my opinion, every tour should start this way. Being from Colorado we don’t have those here, so any opportunity to get this close is a genuine treat. Meet Gumbeaux, a totally chill baby american alligator who’s happy being held, hugged or seated for a drink and photo op.
The tour begins with the history of Louisiana Spirits and what makes Bayou Rum unique. Besides attention to detail with quality being first and foremost, local was a word that was used repeatedly. Locally sourced sugarcane is very important to the production of rum and rum is very important to local sugarcane growers. It’s a beautiful symbiosis created to help a community grow, not just to make great booze. This purpose is important when creating a business that truly matters to the community it serves. The folks at Bayou Rum couldn’t have captured this better.
Belly to the bar, it’s time to gain some first hand knowledge of the 4 types of rum they create. Who better to give such information then Master Distiller Jeff Murphy and Master blender Reiniel Vincente. These are the dream makers behind the Bayou Rum recipes. When I asked them to describe what they do in the simplest fashion, Jeff creates and Reiniel finishes. A proven, winning combination that has truly just begun. Bayou Rum is still very young since it only started in 2013. So to have 4 flavor profiles established already is kind of a big deal. With Silver, Select, Spiced and Satsuma spirits they have pretty much all the bases covered. I asked if they were going to do more, branch outside the rum realm? “Strictly rum, instead of doing everything kind of well, we want to do one thing great” Makes sense, If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t have some extensive palate for tasting rum. In my adult life I have tried multiple forms from silver to spiced. However, it’s always mixed into something and never straight. It’s difficult to notice the subtleties of a spirit when drowned out with Cola or something fruity. I’m here just to fill you in on my experiences and how it changed me. I went in a Whiskey drinker and came out a Rum guy. Having two masters guide you through a crash course in rum flavors is highly recommended. So if you visit the Bayou Rum Distillery, there’s a good chance the same will happen to you. Starting with the Silver, I found it to be a lot smoother than expected! Reniel said that was pretty common for people who only have experience drinking the big rum makers like Bacardi or Captain Morgans. The smoothness and flavor comes from the attention to detail or, Handmade vs. Mass made. With an after taste of bananas, this rum works perfect in any tropical concoction. The Select, winner of “Best in Class” at the Renaissance rum festival, is aged 3 years in fresh bourbon barrels. This gives it a woody flavor that is different from other rums in it’s class. I was curious as to why they chose 3 years for the aging “We started in 2013, as we get older it’ll age and grow with us” My “Duh” moment for sure, also something to look forward too in the future. The next was the Spiced, Bayou Rum’s most awarded recipe. A complex blend of spices are infused for three weeks, giving it a beautiful amber color and creme brulee finish. The tasting was ended with something completely different, the Satsuma orange. For me this was a game changer and something I could drink on ice at any tropical destination. Derived from the Silver, it’s aged and infused with satsuma oranges to create an almost liqueur like finish. Refreshing, flavorful but not overly sweet and the perfect end to the tasting.
Skipp Cortez, one of the founders and artists behind the industrial side of Louisiana Spirits, takes the reigns to show us his masterpiece. Skipps background in industrial machinery was crucial to the success of Bayou Rum. He has designed the factory side to fill any order big or small. It also has a full lab for Jeff and Reineil to ensure the consistency of Bayou Rum and experiment with possible future formulas. Walk through the double doors to enter a warehouse of stainless steel, copper and wood barrels.
The smell of molasses fills the air and the temperature rises to above balmy conditions. Walk past the cooking pots, sugar crane and still to reach the bottling room. It’s like being inside of a swiss time piece, a never ending process of rinsing, filling, labeling and packaging. We each signed a bottle to see how it goes from empty to full. The entire process is a work of modern art.
Head out of the bottling room to enter the barrel room. The barrels of Select are stacked 10 feet high and go the length of the warehouse. This is where they will age and take on the specific notes and color Select drinkers have come to expect.
Our tour concluded with yet another amazing southern cook out of Jambalaya, fried catfish and Bayou Rum cake. Remember when I mentioned food in the south is Tradition? There is truly nothing more Southern than a home cooked meal for newly made friends.
Can’t thank the people at Bayou Rum and VisitLakeCharles.Org enough for their immense hosipitality. Big shout out to Will, Amanda and Jessica for showing us why you love where you live and we should too. I’ll now leave you with the last thing I saw before I had to head back home myself, an awesome Eco-Tour of the protected lands of Lake Charles. Until next time or à la prochaine.