Check out our exclusive interview with Trey Litel, President of Louisiana Spirits LLC, home of Bayou Rum.

Located in Lacassine, Bayou Rum bottles up the spirit of Louisiana using locally-grown sugar cane. Here’s what Trey has to say about being born on the bayou!

Tell us about Bayou Rum.

Bayou Rum is handcrafted, pot distilled American rum produced from fresh Louisiana sugarcane for an award-winning flavor. It started with an idea that came out of a duck blind conversation while hunting near the Lacassine Wildlife Refuge and the local sugarcane fields. Since Louisiana was the birthplace of sugarcane farming in the “new world,” it’s the home of the biggest Mardi Gras party in America, has some of the greatest (and spiciest) food on earth, and is a place where our fiercely loyal citizens live every day to the fullest, we wondered why wasn’t someone creating a home-grown, high-quality Louisiana rum?

We started shipping Bayou Rum in May 2013, and by the end of 2015, Bayou Rum could be found in seven states: Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Maryland; and two provinces in Canada. Through May, we have shipped Bayou Rum to 12 new states and fulfilled a handful of other special orders. In addition to the original seven states, Bayou Rum is making its way to liquor store shelves and bars in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. We hope to be in about 23 states by the end of 2016.

Tell us about your background in the spirits industry.

I started my spirits career with Bacardi USA in Southern California. From there I was promoted to run the territory of South Carolina, and then on to the home office in Miami to assume a brand management role. It was an awesome opportunity to learn sales and marketing from one of the leaders in our industry. I also learned to love rum and made friends with many distributors.

Yours is one of the few rum distilleries in Louisiana, a perfect destination in the heart of sugarcane country. Talk to us about your Louisiana destination and producing Bayou Rum there.

We ferment, distill, mature, and bottle Bayou Silver Rum, Bayou Spiced Rum, Bayou Select Barrel Reserve Rum, and Bayou Satsuma Rum Liqueur in Lacassine, Louisiana, at the largest private rum distillery in the USA.

On the tourism front, Bayou Rum Distillery was just named Louisiana’s #1 Attraction of the Year by the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association. And we are featured as #8 in Southern Living Magazine’s roundup of the 20 Best Southern Distilleries. We are proud of this recognition and of what our team has accomplished since beginning the project in 2011. Bayou Rum has amassed 82 awards in tasting competitions since our July 2013 launch in Louisiana, and most recently, Wine Enthusiast Magazine recognized Bayou Silver Rum with a 93-point rating – an impressive mark for a white rum.

How important is being locally sourced to your distillery? Tell us what type of detail goes into producing your rums.

Bayou Rum is crafted in Louisiana from Louisiana sugarcane, and that terroir has a significant influence on our great taste. Louisiana sugarcane fields are situated in the nutrient-rich Mississippi River Delta region, with 4-to-6 feet of topsoil deposited from water flowing through America’s breadbasket.

Farmers will tell you that this soil and the special sugarcane varieties adapted to take advantage of it are superior to the sandy beaches of a Caribbean island. The truth is, very little cane is grown on the islands anymore. I can take you to the sugarcane fields in Louisiana, and you can kick the dirt yourself. Our raw materials are sole sourced directly from MA Patout and Son’s Enterprise Sugar Mill in Patoutville, Louisiana where they have been producing raw sugar since 1829. We use their sugarcane crystals and their blackstrap molasses in our fermentations. Prior to fermenting, we pasteurize the raw material blend to purify each batch to receive the sugarcane yeast blend. Temperature control is key to a successful and consistent fermentation. Next we distill in a stripping run followed by a spirit run. Then we mature and bottle Bayou Rum with exacting standards. All this is done on site in Lacassine as well as quality assurance in our QC lab. Come on down for a tour and we will be glad to show you how we make Bayou Rum.

trey litel

Trey Litel, President and Co-Founder of Bayou Rum

Photo Courtesy of Romero and Romero Photography

Bayou Rum has not only been recognized for its taste but also for it’s bottling. Can you tell us a bit about Bayou’s packaging?

It took us 18 months to develop our bottle. Designing a custom bottle is a long and expensive path, but very well worth it. We believe that our package is our silent salesperson at the point of purchase. The iconic Bayou Rum bottle exudes top quality which inspires confidence to consumers that they are about to enjoy a top quality spirit. Our bottle is square with a rounded neck for easy grip when you are bartending. It has embossments of Bayou Rum on both sides, an image the state of Louisiana on the neck, and “T-Boy in the Pirogue” boat symbol on the bottom. We repeat T-Boy and a happy Louisiana Alligator, a symbol of the Louisiana bayou, on the labels, the capsule, and the cork. In 2014, after our first year on the market in Louisiana, our packaging series was awarded a Double Gold Medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition! Bayou Rum has been recognized with 82 awards in tasting competitions since our 2013 market launch.

Tell us about your marketing directive for Bayou Rum.

We are a new discovery craft brand focused on generating awareness and trial. Once people taste Bayou Rum they buy it. We are focused on-trade, as that is where brands are built. Our strategy is “liquid to lips” and supporting accounts who support us. We have a national brand ambassador, Ava Kopieczek, and a NYC native Tommy Mauriello, in place to build relationships and programs with key accounts. Our Bayou Rum reps are ready to execute with promotions, feature cocktails, printed materials, metal tackers and the like to raise awareness and generate trial. Leveraging our America’s Rum position is a big differentiator against the imported rums. Even some newer rum brands are imported when you check their origins. Lots of bartenders tell us they are tired of the existing imported rum brand choices, and they want to highlight USA craft products, like Bayou Rum, with great taste that appeal to their discerning, millennial consumers. Bayou Rum provides a unique and tasty experience for spirit consumers.

What would you like bartenders to know about Bayou Rum?

Bayou Rum is (1) America’s Rum, (2) Bayou Rum is handcrafted, pot-distilled, bottled in the USA, and (3) Bayou Rum is the Most Decorated American rum with 82 awards and counting. From New York City to New Orleans, we are focused on delivering a unique cocktail experience. We are focused on getting noticed and getting liquid to lips. Bayou Rum tastes better than other rums on the market, and we know that once bartenders taste it, they want to add it to their cocktail programs. We are set to attend our fourth annual Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in July and we hope to meet many more bartenders.

TOTC is a great place to mingle with the tastemakers of the U.S. and beyond. We have entertained groups from the United States Bartenders’ Guild at Bayou Rum Distillery with tours and educational outings and we would love to host more. We will continue to drive awareness and support new accounts in new markets with the help of the excited Stoli USA sales team.

What are some craft cocktails being made with Bayou Rums?

Here are couple of recipes to try:

gator bite cocktail

Gator Bite

Photo Courtesy of Romero and Romero Photography

Gator Bite

Created by award winning mixologist Kelly Bistok of L’Auberge Lake Charles and is one of the favorites we serve at events.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 oz. Bayou Rum Silver
  • 3/4 oz. Bayou Rum Spiced
  • 3/4 oz. Bayou Satsuma Rum Liqueur
  • 1 1/4 oz. Orange Juice
  • 1 1/4 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • splash of Simple Syrup
  • squeeze of 3 Lime Wedges
  • dash of Grenadine (for Color)

Preparation: Combine ingredients. Garnish with a maraschino cherry, pineapple, orange wedge (optional).

This classic rum punch drink was featured at the Bayou Rum Inaugural Toast event on May 23, 2013. It is easy to make with common bar ingredients. Just mix them all in a cocktail shaker stirring well, and then pour over ice in a tall hurricane glass. Careful with this one, you might get bit!


“Fais Do Do”

Created by Liam Deegan, Bar Manager at Sylvain New Orleans

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bayou Spiced Rum
  • 1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
  • bar spoon Bitter Truth Pimento Dram
  • bar spoon 2:1 Demerara Syrup
  • dash 7 Drops Old Fashioned Bitters

Garnish: Clove studded orange peel.

Preparation: Combine all ingredients in mixing glass. Add ice, stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

What is your favorite rum cocktail?

Tough question! As you can imagine, I enjoy all kinds of Bayou Rum drinks with our four expressions. But when pressed, a classic Bayou Daiquiri made with Bayou Silver Rum, raw Louisiana cane sugar syrup, and fresh squeezed lime juice is one of my favorites. When you get the balance right – between tart, sweet, and handcrafted rum – there is no better cocktail!

Tell us a bit about Bayou Rum’s involvement with Tales of the Cocktail.

Tales of the Cocktail takes place in our home state in New Orleans. Before we launched Bayou Rum, we met with Ann Tuennerman to tell her about our company and share our vision for producing a truly authentic pot distilled Louisiana rum. She was very supportive and gave us a lot of good ideas which we incorporated into our “Global Launch” at TOTC in 2013. We get involved every year, and this year we are sponsoring three events starting on Tuesday with a “Welcome to the Bayou” pool party at Hotel Monteleone. We are featured in “The Great American Rum Revolution” seminar on Wednesday, and we are pouring Bayou Rum at the “Cream of the Crop, American Craft Distillers” tasting room on Thursday morning. We hope to see you there!