Louisianans are well-versed in letting the good times roll, but now they can let it pour with Baton Rouge’s newest distillery, Laissez Versez.
Founded by a pair of Johns—Verrett and Hampton—Laissez Versez aims to bring the city a new line of high-quality spirits distilled right here in the Capital Region.
The duo is initially focused on whiskey production but has added three flavored liqueurs, to the lineup as well.
“Everything starts with the highest quality ethanol we can make,” says Verrett, a 30-year engineering veteran. “In general, this population drinks whiskey. They’re more willing to taste it and try it, but the real test will be if you come back and buy that second and third one, because they’re unique. You can’t get an equivalent too easily. Everybody’s whiskey is unique. We’re finding quality, building up a market, then we’ll look at a whole array of flavors and see where we can expand and how to expand.”
Along with its flagship whiskey, the distillery offers a cold brew-style coffee liqueur dubbed “C’est Bon,” a cinnamon liqueur named “Flambeaux,” as well as a blueberry liqueur.
The C’est Bon has a complex palate, flavored with caramel, chocolate, vanilla, molasses, sugar and cherry, while the Flambeaux includes both cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon, along with ground clove and cayenne pepper.
Verrett is constantly tinkering with all of his recipes, and he has a back log of different flavor ideas for future liqueur batches, including apple, strawberry, blackberry, wedding cake and even coconut when he develops a rum recipe he’s proud of.
“It’s going to be a continuous (research and development),” he says. “I get bored if I’m not challenged. What flavor can we make this time? Each one, as we have an idea, we’ll put the flavor up there and get the labels made and package it. We won’t make a big batch until we see its turnover, but part of the charm is going to be when you come visit, you won’t know what’s going to be new. Coming up with new flavors and drinks and testing it—it’s all about enjoying good liqueurs, good flavors and enjoying being social with your friends and being responsible.”
It’s a small-scale process at the moment, producing 24 or 25 gallon batches at a time that typically take three to six weeks from production to bottling. As of now, it’s all produced with corn sugar, but Verrett has future plans to use cane sugar and open a line of rums.
For now, customers can snag a bottle from the distillery itself, located at 14141 Airline Highway, but Verrett plans on introducing the product to local grocery stores and bars in the coming months.
“I’m not trying to displace anybody else. It’s just a craft,” Verrett says. “It’s just like homebrewing beer: You make one, and you share it with everybody. If it’s good, you make more of it. We couldn’t have done any of this without a lot of help from friends and family. I can’t emphasize that enough. We’ve had a lot of support from them, and we’re able to keep everything low budget and sharing everything we can with them.”