Louisiana has more than a dozen liquor distilleries. All of them producing quality products, all of them well worth supporting.
Does the state need more of them? That's the question John Hampton was pondering, back in 2014, while sitting with friends drinking microbrewed beers and talking about the state of Louisiana's craft beverage industry.
"Louisiana, at the time, was behind [other states] in terms of microbreweries," Hampton says, acknowledging that in the years since, many new local craft beer operations have opened. "We could see that the market was changing and people were looking for more variety." Liquor distilling, he suggested, might be part of that burgeoning trend of locally found libations.
He began concocting plans to open a distillery in Baton Rouge. A self-professed numbers guy, Hampton figured Laissez Versez, as his new business venture would be called, had a more than decent chance of doing well.
Judging by the distillery's success since opening in 2018, Hampton's hunch has paid off. The company fills a niche among Louisiana's distilleries, with a selection of six distinctly flavored liquers and Laissez Versez's flagship product, whiskey — which Hampton describes as "typical of how we like flavors in Louisiana. Bold, but not overpowering."
The 60 proof liquers are a grab bag of flavor profiles. Coconut, strawberry, blueberry and apple pie are in the mix, as well as a cinnamon liquer (known as Flambeaux), and a liquer that brings together coffee, chocolate, caramel, cherry and vanilla (known as C'est Bon).
Thanks to Louisiana's abundance of fresh produce and producers, as well as Hampton's dedication to helping small businesses like his own, numerous ingredients found in Laissez Versez's liquers com straight from the Pelican State. Strawberries from Ponchatoula. Blueberries from Bogalusa. Coffee from a Baton Rouge micro-roastery.
"Anywhere we can find local is where we're trying to go," Hampton says.
Stop by Laissez Versez to taste some of that local flavor for yourself. The distillery is open for tastings and tours, where you'll learn about the processes that go into making each bottle of whiskey and liquer.