Roulaison Distilling Co. started in a town far away, but it’s become one of the most Louisiana-centric distilleries you’ll find.
Its story began in 2013 when two college friends, Andrew Lohfield and Patrick Hernandez, met up at a bar in New York to catch up. Lohfield, who had been a homebrewer in college making everything from yogurt to sake to beer, was interested in getting into the rum distilling business. The thing was, he wanted to be close to rum’s main ingredient — sugar — and there’s no sugarcane being grown in the chilly northeast.
“I’d been working in a distillery in New York, and gradually felt confident that I could do it on my own,” Lohfield says. By the time he and Hernandez opened Roulaison, he’d already had years of hands-on experience perfecting his process.
Fast forward to 2017, and Lohfield had moved to New Orleans to start up his business. Sourcing sugarcane from Lafourche Parish, he and Hernandez — a native of Morgan City, in south Louisiana’s Cajun Country — experimented with the vast approaches to rum making. The diversity of distilling traditions is mindblowing, with Spanish, English and French styles, plus the legendary Caribbean traditions that vary by the island (Barbados rum is different from Dominican Republic rum, which is different from Haitian rum…. You get the idea.) Being so geographically close to numerous sugar mills, the duo could get higher quality molasses than distilleries farther afield. The appeal of Louisiana was obvious.
Roulaison joins a growing field of distilleries, particularly those that are focused on rum. Cane Land Distilling Company in Baton Rouge, Celebration Distillation in New Orleans and Bayou Rum in Lacassine are just a few examples.
Roulaison’s selection includes a flagship white rum, a rich blend of floral and earthy flavors of pineapple and banana. Its limited release Overproof #1 is a unique style of rum called “Navy strength” (with a unique flavor that Roulaison’s website describes as “viscous and mouth-coating with a pungent yet soothing finish). Its Amer Herbal Rum Liquer is a less-traditional variety of rum, bottled at about 42 percent ABV. Roulaison has also been releasing a limited number of bottles of aged rum.
Stop by Roulaison’s distillery in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans and taste its rums for yourself. The tasting room is open, with tours offered on Saturdays.