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Local distillery "dumps" first barrels of whiskey

Posted at 7:43 PM, Oct 25, 2021

J.T. Meleck Distillery is now making another spirit for people to enjoy.

The distillery, known for its vodka, is adding rice whiskey to its inventory. The rice whiskey has been aging for more than four years; the first "dumping" of the 30-gallon oak barrels took place Monday, so the whiskey can be bottled.

The company plans to make the whiskey available for sale during the upcoming holiday season.

"Rice whiskey is just not made anywhere, I don't know why," said founder Michael Fruge. "But we set out to try to add value to our rice crop and I guess we are crazy enough to try it, and it turns out that, we think, that rice makes a pretty good whiskey. We're ready for the public to give us their opinion on it."

J.T. Meleck had the idea in 1896 to grow rice on 20 acres of marshland in South Louisiana. Four generations later, the family, J.T. Meleck's great nieces and nephews, still grows rice (and crawfish) on the farm, and has since added spirits to its repertoire. The family says the end result is one they're proud of, one that is born right on their farm, off Highway 35 in Branch.

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