This past weekend, my Mardi Gras Krewe had its annual dinner in New Orleans, which is always fun. My daughter Caroline is at Tulane so we got to spend some time with her and her boyfriend Cam. And, we took the opportunity to visit distilleries. Yes, there are distilleries in and around New Orleans.
Our first stop was Emeril’s Delmonico for dinner Friday night. I write about this only to say that the Emeril’s restaurants have their own Weller Special Reserve Barrel pick, and it is worth the extra $2 per dram. I also went to Avenue Spirits next to my hotel and tracked down an E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon from 2019; I didn’t get one this year at Hokus so I overpaid for this bottle and will review it later. However, I will say the 2019 release is very good and has extra rye spice to it.
For lunch on Saturday, we went to the Lula Distillery and Restaurant, a micro distillery down the street from our hotel. They are distilling their own rum from molasses and their own gin and vodka from Cane Sugar.
They have a beautiful German made pot-still/column still combo. I tried a bit of their rum straight from the barrel and it was quite good. The bottled gin and tonic (with house made tonic) was really special. My spicy garlic shrimp, called a boil but really more New Orleans Barbecue style, was really good.
Their bottles are $20 each and definitely worth it. I’ve decided I prefer vodka and gin made from cane sugar. It just tastes better.
Then, we went to the Sazerac House on Canal Street, which houses the New Orleans office of Sazerac on the upper floors, and has a working distillery making Sazerac Rye that is shipped back to Buffalo Trace for aging.
First was the bitters exhibit, and a tasting of Peychaud and Bitterman’s Bitters. I picked up some bitters that have cola flavors and am excited to try those in an old fashioned.
The museum has all manner of great virtual exhibits, including a virtual bar where they teach you how to make cocktails.
Of course they give you a sample Sazerac cocktail. Then the exhibit moves to bourbon and rum, and they give you a sample of Sazerac’s new luxury rum, Jung & Wulff.
We also got to sample Sazerac’s new Praline and Praline Cream liquors. They are really good and I picked up a bottle to pour over ice cream and maybe put into a Tiramisu.
The gift shop itself was worth the trip though. Lots of great stuff. Jung & Wulff is only available at the gift shop for now, and at $40-$45, they are definitely worth getting.
The next day, we set out for Sugarfield Spirits in Gonzales, Louisiana. While there are a growing number of rum distilleries in Louisiana, I wanted to go to Sugarfield in particular because, well, they have their own BOURBON. I had a lot of questions about that to be sure.
Sugarfield is making Rum and Vodka from local sugar cane processed at the Lula Sugar Factory, as does the Lula distillery in New Orleans. Lula’s rum is made from Molasses; Sugarfield is 90% Cane Sugar and 10% Molasses. Sugarfield is also making an “Experimental Line” from sugar cane juice that is much like an Agricole style rum.
Their rum is clear now but they have some aging in casks, including some toasted oak casks from Woodford Reserve.
But, more amazingly, they have their own Bourbon. Now, whiskies like LA 1 and Old Mississippi Floated Whiskey are, to put it mildly, awful. I was bracing to be disappointed with this bourbon.
However, I was very surprised to find a bourbon labeled straight with an express four year old age statement being bottled by a young distillery. It turns out they are sourcing bourbon from the Davis Valley Craft Distillery in Virginia, where these barrels were aged four years before being shipped to them. It is bottled on site, and I got to taste straight from the barrel some bourbon that we will be blended with three other barrels to make batch 3. I tried and bought bottles of batch 1 and 2, and will be reviewing those shortly. The short of the matter is that both batches were very good, and did not have that craft bourbon bitterness on the end, I think mostly because they let it age four years.
A good, drinkable bourbon bottled in Louisiana. Just amazing.
I had a great weekend and got to try some great spirits, of which I bought quite a few bottles (including rum for Dad.)