On a recent visit to New Orleans, my friend and I were looking for something to do before our late-night bus home. She did some research on her phone and found a distillery on Frenchman Street, where we were staying. Obviously, we had to check it out.
The nice folks at Old New Orleans Rum Distillery picked us up from the French Quarter, driving us through the Ninth Ward to their distillery. We were immediately greeted with a rum drink upon arrival. Our guide led us through the warehouse, showing us where the floodwaters reached during Hurricane Katrina. While it took them many months to recover, half of the rum was salvaged and able to be sold.
Old New Orleans uses barrels from whiskey and bourbon makers in Kentucky and Tennessee to store their rum. A fire the week before had almost reached the tanks, which would have created an explosion, but thankfully was put out just in time.
At the end of the tour, we got to sample each of the distillery’s offerings. We started with their original rum, the Crystal rum, made with Louisiana sugar and vanilla. Next came the Amber, a dark rum aged three years, with hints of caramel and molasses. My favorite was the Cajun Spice, with cayenne and cinnamon, because it is so versatile. We were lucky enough to try the 10 Year Special Rum, which is only available at the distillery and was one of the barrels that survived Katrina. The most recent addition to their repertoire is Gingeroo, a blend of the Crystal rum and ginger soda that is dangerously delicious. When you purchase a bottle, be sure to check out the owner’s paintings on the inside label.
If You Go
Tours of Celebration Distillation: Old New Orleans Rum Distillery cost $10 and include a tour of the distillery, welcome drink, and samples of each rum. Pickup is available from the French Market but must be arranged in advance. Tours run at 12, 2 and 4 during the week and at 2 and 4 pm on Saturdays.