Baton Rouge Distilling
Baton Rouge Distilling, founded by Ricci Hull and wife Natacha Krzesaj, was inspired by a tour of Kentucky whiskey distilleries, circa 2013. “For a friend’s birthday a few years ago, we did the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, touring different distilleries,” Hull says. “I got to talking with the distillers in Bardstown, asking them all kinds of technical questions. And when I saw some of their equipment, and actually recognized what it was, I came back home and started looking into the permitting process for starting this.”
Baton Rouge Distilling was a bootstrap operation from the beginning. Nothing has been financed, and Hull’s fine with that slow-and-steady approach — “That’s how Old New Orleans Rum started out, too,” Hull says.
“I don’t have financiers looking for a return on investment. I just want to produce things that are unique and that we’re proud of.”
Baton Rouge Distilling originally produced strawberry brandy, and later expanded to rye whiskey and bourbon. The strawberry brandy is one of the only brandies produced in Louisiana and is made with Louisiana strawberry wine from Amato’s Winery (in Independence). When asked why he decided to start with something other than the traditional vodkas, rums and whiskeys produced at other small-scale distilleries, Hull says, “We just wanted to do something different!”
Purchase Baton Rouge Distilling’s strawberry brandy at stores throughout Baton Rouge, or at the distillery in the company’s tasting room. It’s a cozy space inside a 1,000-square-foot complex, where Hull also gives tours of his operation.
"What drives me is that I wanted to know how this distilling thing works," Hull says. "And now that I'm figuring it out, I'm getting out into the community. It's fun sharing something like this that's tangible, and seeing that everybody, for the most part, is interested, asking questions. It's great."