Nearly two years since Ricci Hull and Natacha Krzesaj founded Baton Rouge Distilling, the first spirit to emerge from their Industriplex Boulevard stills has hit the shelves of stores and bars across the Baton Rouge metro area—and it also could be sold in France.
It’s simply called Baton Rouge Distilling Strawberry Brandy, and it is made using strawberry wine from Amato’s Winery in Tangipahoa Parish.
It is on the shelves at both Calandro’s Supermarket locations, Olive or Twist bar just off Perkins Road, Matherne’s Supermarket on Bluebonnet Boulevard and Hokus Pokus Liquors in Prairieville, among other places.
“We’re the only brandy made in Louisiana, and that’s not a typical product,” Hull says.
A friend of Krzesaj, who is from France, has connections at a couple of high-end French supermarket chains and is in talks with those chains about possibly bringing the Baton Rouge Distilling Strawberry Brandy to France, Hull says.
The flavored brandy is the first planned spirit for the husband-and-wife duo who work at the stills on nights and weekends while holding down full-time jobs. He’s an electrical engineer, and she’s a marketing coordinator.
They have no employees right now and have built everything from the ground up.
“It has been unbelievably difficult,” Hull says. “As I tell everyone, one of my favorite quotes is, ‘If it were easy, everyone would do it.’”
Next on the list is a limited release white whiskey that Hull says he will probably call Jones Creek White Whiskey. He says he wants to give the spirits a name that has a Baton Rouge connection.
He will begin crafting a bourbon and will sell some of spirit before it goes into the barrels for aging, hence why it will be clear. What emerges from the barrels will be the flagship bourbon for the company.
“I was going to call it a moonshine, but marketing that ship has sailed,” he says of the white whiskey.
Hull says he is still working on the recipe for the bourbon and will be at Industriplex this weekend working on that specific task.
“Since I don’t have certain pieces of equipment, I have to make sure I do it right so I have to do small scale to make sure I have my math correct,” he says.
Hull says he may also make other fruit brandies using different fruit wines from Amato’s Winery.
He eventually wants to go statewide, but he has no plans to rush. He wants the business to slowly grow organically and give the public what they want. His end-game scenario is to grow the company large enough so he and his wife can work the stills full time and hire about five to 10 employees.
“The big difference is my end game is not to make millions on this,” Hull says. “I want to make something good that I’m proud of and is from Louisiana. If I make millions, great!”