After nearly four years of planning, Cane Land Distilling Co. is preparing to open this spring at 760 St. Phillip St. in downtown Baton Rouge. The 10,000-square-foot building will include a distilling facility measuring 7,000 square feet, which will produce four types of rum, as well as a 3,000-square-foot tasting room. Production of the spirits is already underway.
“We’ve got the spirits resting in barrels,” says Cane Land creator and co-owner Walter Tharp. “We want to build up inventory so we have enough when we open to satisfy the folks coming in off the streets as well as distribution.”
Cane Land has been in the works since 2013. Plans initially called for the distillery to be located on a one-acre site at Oklahoma Street and River Road. But the Baton Rouge Area Foundation needed the property for the Water Campus, so Tharp sold the site in 2015 and relocated to the St. Phillip St. building, which he leases.
“We’re right next to The 13th Gate and the Belle of Baton Rouge and the Raising Cane’s River Center, so we’re excited about it,” he says. “It really ended up working out for the best.”
Cane Land rum will be distilled using fresh pressed cane juice from Alma Plantation and Sugar Mill in Pointe Coupee Parish, which is owned by Tharp’s family.
“We’re bringing in fresh pressed cane juice as well as molasses from the sugar mill and going straight into fermentation,” he says. “We’re hoping that is going to translate into premium spirits.”
Cane Land’s production capacity will be 20,000 cases a year. Republic National Distributing Company will handle distribution, which will focus on the Interstate 10 corridor between Lafayette and New Orleans.
“But really, our focus is on Baton Rouge,” Tharp says. “If we’re good in Baton Rouge, we’ll be good anywhere.”