J.T. Meleck Distillers of Branch, Louisiana, will now offer online sales of its American Rice Whiskey and Louisiana Rice Vodka to select states through Bourbon Outfitters.
Mike Fruge, founder and owner of J.T. Meleck, began this journey to add value to his rice crop. “We realized it wasn’t going to be profitable to plant that year, but not planting wasn’t an option” said Fruge. With agriculture, you’re not thinking about the now, you’re thinking about the future. The Fruge farm has made it to fifth generation due to their ability to adapt sustainable measures to the ever-changing state of farming. Fruge said, “We bounced around a lot of different ideas, some better than others, but it wasn’t until the concept of rice spirits came into the conversation that I became really interested in the idea”. Fruge began his 10-year research endeavor before launching the brand in 2018 with their Louisiana Rice Vodka.
“Everyone starts with a vodka,” said Fruge “it’s a way for a brand to be established while we wait for our whiskey to come of age.” No one in America has capitalized on American rice in distillation, and no other brand in the country has made a 100% rice spirit sold at a commercial level. J.T. Meleck Distillers is the only distillery in the country to be RICE to bottle, meaning they plant, harvest, distill, age, and bottle all on their farm in Southern Louisiana.
“We knew our vodka would be something special to share with friends and family. It took about six or seven different recipes until I made the best martini I’ve ever had and knew this was it” said Fruge “When it comes to making vodka, it’s consistent, you control the whole process, it was the whiskey that kept me up at night. No one has ever done it; it was a trial-and-error process that could go either way” said Fruge.
J.T. Meleck Rice Whiskey launched a limited release of their 30-gallon small batch in November of 2021 that sold out within days. In July of 2022, they officially launched their American Rice Whiskey in Louisiana. Aged for almost 5 years in new American oak 53-gallon barrels with a 96 proof. The spirit appears in an intense amber color. Its aroma characteristics include vanilla crème cake and white chocolate pudding. Its taste and texture are smooth, with hints of butterscotch, silky caramel, crème brulee, and dark chocolate with a bit of spice. It can be enjoyed neat, over ice, or in a classic cocktail.
Whiskey reviewer Fred Minnick, Ascot Awards Founder and Chief Taster, said of J.T. Meleck American Rice Whiskey, “This is one of the more fascinating new whiskies I have tasted, not just all year but in my career…if you are a whiskey lover, this is a bottle that you want to hunt. If you are a bourbon lover. I think there are enough sweet notes in here…I think that you would love it.” Even naming J.T. Meleck American Rice Whiskey as one of his Top 100 whiskeys of 2022.
After such a positive response following their American Rice Whiskey release, Mike Fruge and his team began receiving inquiries on how consumers throughout the country can get their hands on a bottle of their rice spirits. “It’s humbling to see the response our spirits have gotten” said Fruge “never did I think consumers would be asking for it in other states. Never did I think our spirits would bring friends and family together”. Due to this response, J.T. Meleck Distillers has partnered with Bourbon Outfitters to bring their American Rice Whiskey and Louisiana Rice Vodka directly to you.