the Cocktail issue

Donner-Peltier Distillers Thibodaux, LA Rouses Rob Barrilleaux recently sat down with Beth Donner, one of four owners of the distillery. Additional reporting by Anna Gourgues. ROB BARRILLEAUX: Beth, how did you guys come to the decision to open a distillery? There’s nothing in your backgrounds that says distiller. You studied international trade and finance. Your husband Tom is a neurosurgeon.Henry Peltier is a pediatrician, his wife, Jennifer, is a nurse. BETH DONNER: We were on vacation in Puerto Rico with the Peltiers. My husband,Tom, was doing an Iron Man race. Everywhere we’d go on the islands, they made rum because of course they have sugar cane there. Tom said, ‘we live in the middle of sugar cane country, why don’t we try to make rum?’ The rest is history. ROB: From the beginning you all made a true commitment to use South Louisiana ingredients. The sugarcane is grown right outside your distillery. Where do you get the rice for your Oryza vodka and gin? Am I right that you also use the rice in your LA 1 whiskey? BETH: We knew we wanted to use local ingredients. Sometimes people think local means more expensive, but staying local doesn’t add to our expenses—it’s actually a good thing. We are two miles from the sugar cane mill.We get our rice from Reyne, which is pretty close as well. Nine percent of the rice we buy goes into our whiskey. ROB: I know you sell a lot of that sugarcane vodka ... BETH: Vodka is the most common base for cocktails. It’s a neutral spirit so it doesn’t have any kind of flavor to it, unless its a flavored vodka. It mixes well, and it works well for a martini, chilled or straight up on the rocks. ROB: But gin is different. Gin has flavor. In fact,every ginhas a unique flavor—Tanqueray doesn’t taste like Hendrick’s. Hendrick’s doesn’t taste like Bombay Saphire. What are the flavors in your Oryza Gin? BETH: Ours isn’t a typical London dry type of gin. It has a citrus flavor to it which makes it really unique compared to the other gins out there. We’re in line with the local aspect by using fresh satsuma along with the other


Sugar Cane In South Louisiana, as elsewhere throughout the Americas, sugar is white gold, the commodity primarily responsible for much of the region’s early economic, social and cultural development. The first century of Louisiana’s settlement and history can be seen as a great sugar experiment, an attempt to transform the colony into the next great sugar empire. Louisiana’s founding fathers, the Le Moyne brothers, Iberville and Bienville both attempted and failed in planting cane in the area. Jesuit priests later, with minor successes, cultivated the crop where New Orleans’s modern-day Central Business District now stands. Up until the 1790s when the planter Étienne de Boré triumphantly produced the first batch of granulated Louisiana sugar and thus sparked a homegrown industry, the Le Moynes, the Jesuits and the dozens of other farmers who endeavored to grow healthy cane crops all had one goal in mind: rum. The fermented and distilled product of molasses and/or sugarcane juice, rum, the early colonists thought, could make them rich. It would also, at the very least, get them quite inebriated. “The immoderate use of taffia (a kind of rum),” the French administrator Jean Jacques D’Abbadie wrote concerning Louisianians in 1764, “has stupefied the whole population.” —Rien Fertel, My Rouses Magazine, 2013



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