Happy Raptor Distilling

Mark Taliancich and Meagen Moreland began Happy Raptor Distilling under unusual circumstances: Honeymooning in Martinique. While traveling in the French territory, they purchased a spice packet made for adding to rum — a common commodity in the Caribbean, where sugar cultivation and rum-making have deep roots.

Mark and Meagen mixed the spices and sampled the infused rum, and, intrigued, spent the next two years trying to replicate the flavor. Mark, notably, had a background brewing beer and making wine. The search eventually led them to making their own infused rums, and in early 2020, Happy Raptor Distilling was born. Its flagship product, 504 Hibiscus, is their attempt to recreate the mix of flavors they had found in the Caribbean years ago.

The two lean heavily on their backgrounds in management and public relations, respectively, to make Happy Raptor a thriving business. Their business partner, Peter River, is a design engineer who worked with Mark on building the still. Today, he handles the production side of Happy Raptor.

The distillery's team does its best to keep business local. It sources molasses — rum's key ingredient — from sugarcane processed in Assumption Parish. Its cocktails are made with locally sourced products as well.

Happy Raptor currently produces four rums. Its 504 Hibiscus, naturally, contains floral flavors, and is infused with flower petals, lime and spices. The 504 Silver is a straightforward white rum that is the perfect base for cocktails. The 504 Gold contains earthier flavors resulting from an infusion of American oak chips. And finally, as a nod to Happy Raptor's local roots, there's the 504 Bananas Foster rum. Infused with dehydrated bananas, vanilla, cinnamon and other spices, it's a flavorful after-dinner drink.

Stop by the tasting room — which is family-friendly — to pick up a bottle of Happy Raptor's rums and to try one of its quality cocktails.