Apr 16, 2015
THIBODAUX, LA -- Born and raised in Louisiana, Tom Donner and Henry Peltier witnessed firsthand the prominence of sugar cane and rice in their community and were inspired to find an innovative way to support these industries. The lack of a locally-run distillery motivated Donner and Peltier to experiment with using sugar cane and rice to make liquor. Sugar cane is traditionally the main ingredient used to make rum; however, rice proved to be more of a challenge. Over the course of three months, Donner and Peltier utilized their backgrounds in chemistry to investigate the best way to incorporate rice into their products.
According to Donner, "I don't know if it's a unique idea that we had to use rice in our spirits, but we took the time to figure out how to make it work. We put some study into it because no one else really makes anything from long grain rice."
After a series of trial-and-error, Donner and Peltier perfected the use of rice as an ingredient in their vodka, and then expanded to whiskey and gin. They opened Donner-Peltier Distillers in 2012 and their featured products include Oryza Vodka, Oryza Gin, LA1 Whiskey, Rougaroux Sugarshine Rum, Rougaroux Full Moon Dark Rum, and Rougaroux 13 Pennies Rum.
"Rice is a little more difficult to deal with than if we were making vodka out of wheat, which is the most popular thing that is used to make vodka," said Donner. "Being a local company is kind of a big thing for us so we wanted to do the right thing by the people in our state, and we have been really well-received for that reason."
The full featured piece on Donner-Peltier Distillers will be included in USA Rice's next issue of The Whole Grain.