Local distillery branches out from spirits with help of LSU program
BATON ROUGE - Cane Land Distillery in downtown Baton Rouge might be known for its whiskey and rum, but visitors can now expect something sweeter like candied pecans and rum cakes.
Yvette and Walter Tharp opened the distillery and tasting room last May, shortly after he approached her with a proposal.
"One day I was sitting in my mini office at home and Walter came up to me and gave me a box of business cards, and it said Yvette Bonnano Tharp: Director of Everything Delicious," Tharp told WBRZ. "I've always had a love and a passion for the culinary industry."
With decades in the culinary mix, it was a proposal she gladly accepted. From that point on, culinary juices started flowing.
Using her expertise, Tharp was able to access the LSU Ag Center's incubator to make these products a reality.
Since 2013, the food incubator has selected entrepreneurs to craft products with ties to South Louisiana, everything from gelato to salad dressing.
"My vision of this food incubator was to help persons like myself trying to start a food business, making it a one-stop shop," coordinator Gaye Sandoz said.
It's that model that benefits those new to the business, as well as veterans like Tharp.
"I mean, I could not have done it as precisely as quality control on a small scale."
The one key ingredient? Being local. Every step of getting the rum cakes and pecans to store shelves runs through Baton Rouge. It all starts at Cane Land Distillery on St. Philip Street, where the rum used to make the products is aging. It then makes its way to the LSU incubator where all the baking occurs. Finally, it gets packaged and sent off to specialty grocers around the city.
"We couldn't get more local if we tried," Tharp said.
With the incubator covering all the bases, clients like Tharp are able to focus on what makes their product unique.
"It just gives all those individuals a passion or dream to get their product on the shelf."
For more information on the program, click here.