Celebration Distillery NewOrleans, LA — by MikkoMacchione In 1995, there were no rum makers in the continental United States. So it was time for NO rum. James Michalopoulos, he of the Jazz Fest posters and paintings of melting houses fame, had just come back from France with an antique perfume making still. He didn’t want to make perfume. Michalopoulos got together some artists, engineers, and other, shall we say, alternative thinkers and created Celebration Distillation. After myriad stops and starts, dozens of formulations and an historic hurricane, Old New Orleans Rum has established itself as a world class distiller with uniquely local products—Crystal, a clear rum; Amber, the three-year classic rum; Cajun Spiced Rum; and the already legendary Gingeroo—the bubbly, peppery dream of a drink. Now, just 20 years after that French still filled their first barrel, Old New Orleans has a platinum medal in their growing trophy case. King Creole, their 20-year blend, has gotten an astronomical 96 rating from the Beverage Testing Institute and a certification of “Superlative.” Here’s what they had to say: “Brilliant gold color. Creamy aromas and flavors of chocolate maple nut fudge, spicy fruit chutney, honey vanilla bean gelato, and copper with a silky, vibrant, fruity light-to-medium body and a tingling, long vanilla buttercream and cola, tiramisu, pink pepper, and minerals finish. A superbly spicy and intricate sipping rum that will cover all bases.” All Old New Orleans Rum is crafted from locally sourced molasses— from Lafourche Sugar Mill out of Thibodaux to be precise. In the last decade, Louisiana has lost two thirds of its sugar mills. Celebration Distillation, as part of its mission to support local business, invested in the Thibodaux mill, building processing equipment. “Our quality starts at home,” says owner and founder of Celebration Distillation, James Michalopoulos. “From the beginning, it’s been paramount for us to use locally sourced Louisiana sugar cane.” King Creole 20th Anniversary Blend is a signed and numbered limited batch—only 5,000 bottles were made. Built upon Old New Orleans Rum’s classic and popular 10-year rum, King Creole represents the last of Celebration Distillation’s pre-Katrina stock. Master Distiller Mike Kelly selected seven different vintages, leaning heavily on the pre-Katrina vintages to make a spirit that celebrates 20 years of distilling a handcrafted rum in New Orleans. “Everything at Celebration Distillation is done in house,” said Kelly. “We cross the country to visit fellow distilleries on the hunt for AmericanWhite Oak barrels that held fine bourbons, whiskeys and sherries.Then we char the barrels ourselves, which means each one has a special character.” The French perfume making still still quietly sits in the distillery out on Frenchmen Street surrounded by more modern rum making equipment. The daily tours of the factory stop to admire the quaint relic, but what really draws the growing fans of Old New Orleans is the rum itself.

Cathead Vodka Cathead in Jackson, Mississippi, is the state’s first and oldest legal distillery. The brand’s Mississippi roots run deep, from its start in Madison and move to Jackson, to its distiller, Phillip Ladner, who grew up in Long Beach on the Gulf Coast. Ladner use sweet grain corn for a crisp finish, and each run is made in small, five-hundred-gallon batches or less. Tours and tastings are available on Thursdays and Fridays starting at 3pm and at 11am on Saturdays.


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