Jump to content

Louisiana - Local Distilleries can begin selling directly to customers


Recommended Posts

Local distilleries can begin selling directly to customers

Published: Sunday, July 08, 2012, 9:22 AM Updated: Sunday, July 08, 2012, 10:01 AM

Source: The Times-Picayune


Louisiana distillers of spirits now can offer tours of their facilities and sell their products in-house, changes that will help members of that industry expand sales and attract tourists. Senate Bill 64 was passed by the state Legislature at the end of May, giving distilleries the freedom to give tours and sell 12 bottles of a product to an individual

Sen. Dan Morrish, R-Jennings, sponsored the bill. Morrish said the founders of Louisiana Spirits, which plans to open a rum distillery in Lacassine, approached him about filing legislation that would amend a law preventing distilleries from selling products from their facilities. Morrish believed the bill would help Louisiana Spirits and other distilleries, while also generating interest among others in opening more distilleries in the state.

"Americans drink a lot of rum and hopefully they will drink more Louisiana rum," Morrish said.

Trey Litel, a founder of Louisiana Spirits, used to work for Bacardi. He and his brother got the idea to open a distillery in Louisiana because the state has a history of producing large amounts of sugar cane, a main ingredient in rum. Two years ago, after visiting other distilleries and researching the business, they moved forward with their plans. Louisiana Spirits is in the process of creating its rum recipe, which will include local sugar cane and unique ingredients. The company hopes to produce dark and light rum by the end of 2012.

"Louisiana is a great party state and it seems like all the elements are here," Litel said. "People are enthralled with the process and what goes into this."

Creating Louisiana jobs

Litel said Senate Bill 64 will allow him to develop his distillery into a tourist destination and enable the Louisiana native to give something back.

"You get to a time in your career when you want to do something creative, fun and meaningful," he added. "We're going to be creating jobs and opportunities for people. We'll be creating revenue for the state."

Litel was pleased with how fast the legislation moved. He and his brother met with Morrish and explained that having the ability to sell some product in-house would help drive sales and push demand for their product in other states.

"It was a beautiful thing to watch," Litel said. "This was the government working for us. We're trying to build a brand."

"Louisiana has a fantastic history of food and events," he added. "I want to make a world-class rum from Louisiana. When they think of rum, they'll think of Louisiana Spirits."

Whiskey and absinthe

Others expect to see the impact of the new legislation as well. Jedd Haas has plans to open a micro-distillery in New Orleans, making whiskey and absinthe. He decided to try to start a distillery after seeing several stories about similar ventures. His distillery will be under the brand Atelier Vie, which recently received its state permit.

"It's been a long process with all the regulations and over a dozen agencies having to approve us," Haas said. "Any business has risks; you just have to find a way to mitigate them."

Morrish's legislation will allow Atelier Vie to sell bottles directly from its distillery at 1001 S. Broad St. Haas is developing a recipe and label and expects to roll out a product in the next few months.

As distilleries received more freedom, one major player in the alcohol industry will remain unaffected by the change in legislation. Breweries are still unable to sell products in-house. But Andrew Godley, the founder of Parish Brewing in Broussard, said that Senate Bill 64 passed without opposition, which makes him optimistic that something similar will go through for breweries.

"The law that just passed is very encouraging," he said. "Recently, brewing companies haven't tried anything. (There will) likely be pushing for modernization of the laws for fairness in the state of our industry."

Beer brewers speak up

At the moment, breweries must sell all of their products at wholesale through a distributor. This means that when a brewing company begins it must have high sales out of the gate to stay afloat, Godley added. The ability to sell directly to the customer would make it easier for young breweries to market their products, develop their brands and build profit, he said.

Godley thinks one of the main reasons breweries haven't pushed for the change in legislation is the lack of a large micro-brewing industry in Louisiana.

"It takes quite a bit of people to force something to move," he added. "There's no push for it. You can't have legislative change without a group of people working for change."

Godley opened Parish Brewing because he loves beer. The company has been selling beer since 2010. He has seen demand for craft beer increase in Louisiana.

"We want to be a major player in the Louisiana craft beer scene," Godley said. "The people that brew beer in Louisiana are family, neighbors and friends. They use local ingredients. It's a true local industry."

Troy Hebert, the commissioner of the Louisiana office of alcohol and tobacco control, said everything in the business takes time.

"In this business you have to wait for legislation to pass," he said. "It's a very unique business and it's ingrained in our culture."

DiAngelea Millar can be reached at amillar@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3495

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good Stuff man. Looks like yall are "officially" ready to go! I frequent NOLA a good bit, Im out of Natchez, MS, next time I'm down there I'll have to try and stop by to see the place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...