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How Oxbow Rum Distillery Is Bringing American Rum Back to the Land

How Oxbow Rum Distillery Is Bringing American Rum Back to the Land

(Photo: Oxbow Rum Distillery)

Louisiana is known for Mardi Gras, crawfish and surprisingly its sugar. With great sugar comes, great rum. This sentiment is the philosophy and foundation of what Oxbow Rum Distillery aims to produce and share with the world.

Where the Mississippi River bends resides a family run estate that has been around since 1859. Nowadays this family farm has begun to emerge as an example of what Louisiana rum could be with their brand Oxbow Rum Distillery and it all started with bringing it back to the land that it comes from.  

The farm is located in Pointe Coupée Parish, Lousiana. Pointe coupée refers to a cut-off point because this is one of the places that is cut from the Mississippi creating an oxbow. Just a few parishes over in Bouton Rouge the distillery and tasting room can be found.

Single Estate From Farm to Bottle

(Photo: Oxbow Rum Distillery)

Oxbow went through a few rebrandings, but its identity solidified after the President of Oxbow Rum Distillery, Olivia Stewart left a decade-long career to move back home and take the helm.

“The farm is on an old Mississippi River oxbow and when we were thinking about the new name, I just knew, I really wanted to bring it to the land and honor the land and the process, the generations of all people that have worked that land and not just my family,” said Stewart. “It was really important to me that the name really resounds with me and the people of Pointe Coupée Parish, especially.” 

Stewart further added, “in addition to delicious food and New Orleans, we have an amazing sugar cane industry one of the last states left in the country that does, so we should be making delicious rum and sharing it with the rest of the country and the world.” 

Stewart sees Oxbow as a part of a growing movement for rum to shed the stigma of being full of sweeteners and other additives. Transparency is placed at the forefront and additives are not used in this brand’s core range of Oxbow Estate Rums. 

Oxbow is in a very unique situation, especially in the continental US, because it is single estate rum. The sugarcane, the mill, and the distillery are all family-owned. This means Oxbow is able to create rums using the best quality molasses from their very own sugarcane harvests. 

“These ingredients whether it’s the cane juice or the grade A molasses, which you cannot access on the commodity market. No other rum distillery I know of in the country, the Caribbean, anywhere has access to high-grade molasses, high test molasses, strictly. That is all we are using for our molasses-based rum and you can tell the difference in the final product,” said Stewart.

What Does It Means to Be American Rum?

(Photo: Oxbow Rum Distillery)

Oxbow is working to stake a claim as to what American rum, especially Louisiana rum, could be. Part of this involves claiming an identity for Louisiana rum and she hopes to work with other distilleries in Louisiana to determine what American-style rum would look like. 

Stewart explained, “‘Oh American craft rum, that’s the one’ I would love to see that for Oxbow. To see Oxbow as a pioneer and to show that American rum should come from Louisiana. I see that as the ultimate goal, not just domestically, but then maybe one day spreading the knowledge of American rum around the world.”

A Taste of Louisiana

(Photo: Oxbow Rum Distillery)

One of the products Oxbow Rum Distillery is really proud of is their Rhum Louisiane.

“When you taste Rhum Louisiane you taste this buttery, rich earthy soil that is part of the Mississippi River Delta that is inherent to it and the humid thick air that the cane was grown in. It characteristically, inherently is going to be different because of where and how the cane was grown.

“You taste the fields. It is what is unique about cane juice rum and now that we are starting to make, hopefully, a name for Louisiana cane juice rum alongside other distilleries,” explained Stewart.

It’s hard to find another brand like Oxbow as Stewart explained it’s a single-estate rum with access to premium ingredients and it’s also family-owned from beginning to end.

Oxbow Rum Distillery is expanding its distribution this year, starting off with Texas, Georgia and a couple of other states. Keep a look out for it on shelves across the U.S. soon.

The Rum

(Photo: Oxbow Rum Distillery)

Oxbow Rum Distillery was kind enough to provide samples for us to taste including the Rhum Louisiane 2021, the Small Batch White Rum and the Barrel Aged Straight Rum. 

Rhum Louisiane Cane Juice Agricole 2021

The 2021 vintage is a 45% ABV, pot still, unaged and cane juice rum made from sugarcane harvested in the fall and fermented within hours of being cut from the fields. The nose is grassy with fruity aromas including starfruit, papaya and green grapes. On the palate is a buttery fruitiness that is cut with lemon peel and funky esters. It finishes with a lingering zestiness.  

Small Batch White Rum

“It seems and tastes like the mill in the middle of harvest. Where you are cooking this molasses and you have that vapor and kind of smoky smell from the rich molasses,” said Stewart

The rum is 45% proof, unaged and made from 100% high-grade sugarcane molasses and distilled in small batches. It is tequila-like on the nose with smells of agave and a syrupy scent along with aromas of mango and butterscotch. You can really taste the molasses in this rum and it is also slightly smoky with the taste of butterscotch. This one finishes dry. A great rum for a tequila or mezcal fan.

Barrel Aged Straight Rum

“I wanted it to taste like rum and oak,” said Stewart about this rum. “I wanted our ingredients to shine through and speak for themselves.”

The barrel aged rum is distilled from high-grade molasses and is aged in charred, new American oak barrels for over two years and then proofed down to 47.5% ABV. The aromas are of honey, vanilla, plum and an ever so slight hint of dark chocolate. The taste of vanilla, burnt toffee and cinnamon are prominent on the palate. It finishes long and dry. You might even be able to fool a bourbon drinker with this one.

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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.