Piña Colada, Mai Tai, Mojito, Dark & Stormy, Rum Punch are some sip-able summer drinks emulating relaxed island life. The sugar serving as the base for rum is not only a Caribbean Island crop, but is largely produced in Louisiana as well. To the east of Lake Charles is Louisiana Spirits, one of our state’s distilleries. Last week, I took a ride to visit their facility which produces Bayou Rum. The drive is under 2 hours from Port Allen. 

Bayou Rum Distillery and Event Center is located at 20909 Frontage Road in Lacassine, LA. Free tours are available by appointment Tuesday through Saturday at 10 A.M, 11 A.M., 1 P.M., 2 P.M, 3 P.M., and 4 P.M. The facility is closed Sundays and Mondays. The tour takes you through the entire process of rum making: from pasteurizing the locally sourced molasses, through distillation in the large copper stills, to the finishing processes which either requires blending or transferring to retired bourbon barrels to age. 

All of the rum produced is bottled and labeled on site by demand. The bottles arrive at the distillery, are sanitized with Bayou Rum to avoid dilution of final product, then are filled and shipped to the customer. Currently, Louisiana Spirits distributes to 40 states in the United States and 73 countries. 

At the end of the facility tour, each person of age can taste three rums of six offered at the tasting. My two favorites were their coffee and satsuma rums. Frozen drinks are also available for purchase in the tasting area within the gift shop and visitor’s center. The day I toured they had frozen Rum-Ritas and Piña Coladas, both of which were delicious.

Our tour’s guide, Jon Meisinger, was well versed in all steps of the process and proposed several drinks and sometimes baking suggestions for each type of rum sampled during the tasting. Interestingly, the climate of Louisiana is beneficial to the aging process of products like their Bayou XO Mardi Gras Rum. Aeration, an important part of aging rum, is accelerated by the fluctuating temperatures of the Louisiana climate.

Weather hasn’t always helped the distillery. Hurricane Laura severely damaged the roof of the event center where 3200 barrels of aging rum had been stored. The barrels had to be discarded after the storm. The offices and gift shop floors in the visitor’s center were also ruined after water seeped in through windows. After repair of the roof and other storm related damages on the property, the distillery again hosts weddings, Mardi Gras Balls, and tours.

The distillery is a no waste facility where all the byproducts of production are used. Distilled alcohol with lower than desired boiling points for rum making, referred to as heads, are shipped off to other companies and used for cleaning products and perfumes. In fact, during the 2020 pandemic, the distillery briefly shut down rum production to create much-needed hand sanitizers. 

For more information call (337) 588-5800 or visit www.bayourum.com

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