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NOLA Distillery

During our New Orleans trip my girl friend surprised us with a tour of a New Orleans distillery, aptly named NOLA Distillery.

The tour starts at the bar, where ticket holders were welcomed with a cocktail of their choosing. Here, we enjoyed flavoured old fashions.

Others ordered spiked slushes with an extra shot. The latter served in test tube turned upside down within the frosted beverage.

Guests sat and mingled until it was time for our intimate tour group to enter NOLA Distillery’s production facility. Here, we were only able to take photos of the bottles, pre-set up for display and tasting. And our guide asked us to put our phones away for the operation portion of the tour.

The distillery not only manufactures their own three lines of spirits, but also produces for other local labels as well. The entire operation is run by a smaller 6 member team, which includes a hands on owner. Said owner also has a distillery in Las Vegas producing vodka for night clubs and strip clubs.

Our tour guide was Blue, and thanks to an infectious enthusiasm and a self deprecating humour they made the long tour an engaging one.

We began by exploring NOLA’s entire line. This includes vodka which they started distilling in the early 2000’s in Vegas. They were looking for a 100% corn mash vodka that does not have the burn of its competitors. Fast forward and they now have a line of flavoured vodkas including lemon and coffee using only natural ingredients and no added flavouring.

My favourite was the Trinity vodka created to mimic the flavours of Creole cuisine and New Orleans cooking. This vodka is distilled with onion, celery, and bell pepper placed in a laundry bag and allowed to sit right in the still. The result is a savoury spirit that deliveries on its promise. And for even more punch with southern spice, pick up their spicy version.

At NOLA distillery they also make traditional Louisiana-style bourbon. And their first bottle took home double gold, which was the highest mark in an international competition. This was surprising considering this was only a 2 year aged bourbon.

This step in the direction of clear spirits to amber ones had them relaunching their line of bourbon under a new brand, with a new label that paid respect to those who came before them. Classified as a copper tier with bourbons aged for up to 4 years.

It was here that I learned about everclear. It is basically vodka at 90%, but left potent so that you drink less to have the same effect, and without the need to visit the washroom every so often.

Similarly there is taaka, which is bottom rung vodka not filtered and left at a higher ABV for the intention of a stronger spirit for cheaper. This is used in many of the sweet cocktails in New Orleans that I have been lamenting over.

In contrast NOLA Distillery filters all their spirits through carbon filters. Removing impurities and the agent that causes hangovers the next day. Their bourbon gets filtered 4-6 times, which is as much as they can without altering its flavour. Whereas their vodkas get 8-10 passes through the filters. And even though the liquid appears transparent and clear, once strained you can see discolouration from what was once a new white filter.

And after a demonstration on the bottling process with stuck on label, hand corking, and the boxing by pallet, we were invited to taste the results of their labour.

Each guest was given the option to try 3 of their spirits, poured into mini plastic cups and served on a wooden board.

This, we would take out to their sun soaked patio in the back to enjoy as dainty sips.

For those looking for more or to take a piece of the tour home with them, the bar continued to mix cocktails and doubled as a check out counter for any bottles and merchandise you wanted to purchase.

This was nice way to learn about the bourbon served in the city and how their processes and standards may differ from that of Canada’s (where I am from). As well as a different way to grab a drink in New Orleans.

NOLA Distillery
3715 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States
+1 504-598-5610

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