BRANCH — If you've shopped your local liquor section, you've probably seen J. T. Meleck vodka on the shelves.
Made by Frugé Spirits in Branch, the vodka's primary ingredient is rice.
Distillery founder Michael Frugé says sales of the vodka skyrocketed its first holiday season in 2018.
"This is probably the one time in my whole career, of all the other businesses I've done, that we exceeded our expectations," said Frugé. "That was the moment where we knew we had to catch up with demand, if you will, or we were going to get behind."
This past fall, Frugé Spirits started operating in a much larger facility right next door to the old one.
"We went from roughly about 2,000 square feet to now 10,000 square feet," said Frugé. "Our capacity to ferment and to distill has tripled."
Frugé is already looking ahead. He is hoping one day they can open a visitation center right across the highway from the distillery.
He's also hoping to launch the vodka in neighboring states.
"We have a pretty good foundation in Texas because we're already there with our farm and our crawfish," said Frugé. "We sell crawfish in Texas; we have for almost thirty years now."
As for their whiskey that has yet to be released, Frugé says patience is key.
"We have to wait. We have to be patient," said the distillery founder. "We have to see what's going to happen, and so far, it just keeps getting better. Our original experimental barrels just keep getting better."