A craft distillery is coming to the historic district of Donaldsonville, the first of its kind in the small city, as well as Ascension Parish.
The Noel Family Distillery, opening early next year, will produce high-grade rhum agricole, along with vodka and gin. The spirits will be made with sugarcane cultivated by local farmers and provided in partnership with Cora Texas sugar mill in White Castle.
The distillery co-founders, master distiller Frank “Chip” Noel and his daughter, Natalie, are Donaldsonville natives whose family has been involved in the cane farming business for generations. Natalie Noel is also the founder of Baton Rouge-based Tech Advocate Group and co-founder of The Healing Sole.
Noel Family Distillery will be located along the riverbank in Donaldsonville in a 4,000-square-foot building built in the 1890s, which was once home to the LP&L—Louisiana Power & Light—utility company. Construction is set to begin in the next few weeks and is scheduled to wrap up by the end of the year.
The distillery has been about two years in the making, Natalie Noel says. Her father, a longtime pilot who has spent time traveling and flying guests to the Caribbean, fell in love with rhum agricole and thought, with his family and hometown roots in sugarcane, why aren’t we making this back home?
“What we have here is an opportunity to take one of our most precious agricultural resources—sugarcane—and create a couple different versions of rhum agricole, which has seen huge surge in popularity,” Natalie Noel says.
The Noel family and local officials say they expect the new distillery to attract visitors and tourists to Donaldsonville, while bringing some needed economic prosperity back to the small historic area.
“We’re doing our best to involve local farmers and the community, which plays into why we chose Donaldsonville,” Noel says. “We’re looking to revitalize the area.”
The Noel Family Distillery will be the third distillery in the Capital Region. Baton Rouge Distilling, which focuses on fruit brandies, opened in 2016, and Cane Land Distilling, which also produces rhum agricole with cane from Alma Plantation, launched last year.