Celebration Distillation’s Head Distiller, Anthony Whiting and Roo, the distillery’s muse.
Celebration Distillation was founded by artist James Michalopoulos in 1995. It is the oldest still-operating craft rum distillery in the continental U.S. Long famous for sugar cane, Louisiana did not boast a local rum until Celebration Distillation filled that niche. The distillery and its unique still, a combination of pot and column styles, were custom built by hand, giving Old New Orleans a true hand-crafted approach to making great rum.
The distinct flavor and deep natural tone of Old New Orleans is derived without the use of additives or coloring. It is 100% natural. Using high-grade cane syrup in a slow batch process, a balance of flavors is achieved (sweet molasses, oak, maple syrup, vanilla and caramel) that sets Old New Orleans apart from everything else called rum. The sugar cane is from one farmer, Greg Nolan at Lafourche Sugar.
Distillation Process: Old New Orleans Rum is made using only the highest quality cane syrup in the mash. This product is derived from some of the sweetest and most flavorful sugar cane worldwide. These qualities come from growing cane in some of the most fertile soil in the world. The use of the costly cane syrup produces not only more alcohol (a higher “brix” or sugar content is afforded by the syrup), but also a more flavorful end product. The evolution of this rum, along with some changes in the distillation process, has led to a further-refined, more satisfying spirit. The primary change is that the product is distilled at a higher proof. The rums, previously distilled to 154-165 proof, are now distilled to 180-186 proof. In addition, a smaller center cut from each distillation is used in the final rum. In essence, they look for the “sweet spot” in the distillation process. That means taking off more heads and more tails. The result is less output, but higher quality having eliminated the potentially negative flavors and odors in the early and later parts of the run.
After the initial distillation, the raw rum can go in two different directions: charcoal filtration or into a barrel. Aging in bourbon barrels affords some of the best mellowing available. Nothing works like time in a charred oak barrel. This process is accentuated by the intensely hot, humid summers in New Orleans. The Crystal Rum doesn’t go into a barrel, but is dripped very slowly through activated carbon (charcoal), which also serves to cause a mellowing as well as a removal of harsh components. The rum is hand bottled six at a time and the Gingeroo is hand bottled two at a time.
The steps: Louisiana sugar cane – Fresh, raw, pure sugar! Fine grade molasses.