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Noël Distillery, Louisiana’s First Tequila Provider

Louisiana has a rich culinary history. From the spicy flavors of Creole and Cajun cuisine to the French-inspired sweets you can find in New Orleans, it’s a food haven. What about spirits? 

There are a few craft breweries in the state, but a new distillery plans to change that. Noël Family Distillery recently opened for business with a line of tequila, vodka, and rum made with fresh ingredients. They capture the essence of Louisiana in a bottle. 

Settled in Donaldsonville, LA, Noël can trace its roots back to the late 1800s. Donaldsonville is a sugarcane-growing area, and the Noel family made sugarcane products. The family eventually moved into aviation and corporate business. 

Co-founder Chip Noel was a jet pilot, traveling to the Caribbean a few times. While staying there, he fell in love with the rums of the islands. “I always thought a distillery made sense here because we grow some of the finest sugarcane in the world,” Chip said in a press release. After 45 years as a pilot, he shifted his attention to distilling. 

“Our family’s history is rooted in sugarcane farming; my dad had a huge passion for rum. He may have already been practicing how to make rum at the time,” Natalie Noel, Noël CEO, told The Business Download. “So, we started to explore. We incorporated and launched our journey. We both went to distillery school and learned how to make rum, tequila, vodka, and gin.” 

Chip teamed up with his daughter Natalie to begin funding the business. Starting in 2018, the duo raised capital for their first location — the old light and power factory in Donaldsonville.

Photo Courtesy Noël Family Distillery 

Natalie played college basketball at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette before getting her MBA at Louisiana State University. With degrees in marketing and a passion for product development, her leadership has given Louisiana a new symbol of innovation. 

Opening the distillery in Donaldsonville has boosted the town’s economy. Mayor Leroy Sullivan hailed Noël for all the economic opportunities it will bring.

“We’re excited because, number one, it’s going to bring an economic impact to the city of Donaldsonville,” Sullivan said in a video interview. The distillery will bring tourism, helping the cafes and restaurants attract customers. 

“We chose Donaldsonville because of its proximity to the sugarcane refinery, allowing us to ferment the delicate cane juice as soon as it’s pressed,” Chip said in a statement. 

In October 2022, the first still was installed. After many delays because of the pandemic, the distillery was ready to open its door to the world and sell its tequila, vodka, and rum to Louisiana. By May 6, it hosted its first tasting, and by May 19, it was officially open.  

“We’ve been really blessed and super excited to see where this goes and looking to have more and more people fall in love with us and appreciate that local can be exceptional and that we can be their go-to choice for tequila, rum, and vodka,” Natalie said.

Making Louisiana’s only tequila line was tricky for the Noel family. For tequila to be truly authentic, it must be produced in Mexico. Representatives of the company told The Business Download a partnership with a female-owned tequila distillery in Mexico was struck. They make tequila blanco and tequila reposado in Noël’s portfolio.

“We’ve had the greatest experience working with them (Casa Maestri, NOM #1438) on product development to ensure we arrived at the right flavor profile that worked for us and our taste buds and for what we wanted to bring to market while reflecting the passion, fun, and flavor that is Louisiana,” Natalie explained. “They really were super helpful in making sure that we got the tequila to taste exactly the way we wanted.”

Photo Courtesy Noël Family Distillery

Noel is the only Louisiana distillery to offer 100% Blue Weber Agave tequila and small-batch barrel-aged rum. They also have charcoal-filtered and pickle-infused vodka. If you’re not a fan of the hard stuff, a canned cocktail line is available for purchase, too. 

The spirits use only natural ingredients like blue agave, molasses, and American-grown corn. You find recipes for drinks that get the best out of the liquors on the Noël website. Some to consider are the Pickle Vodka Bloody Mary, their take on Caipiroska (a Brazilian cocktail), and an espresso martini. 

All Noël bottles are labeled with a green tree frog stencil — the frog is the official amphibian of Louisiana. It’s a symbol of luck, creation, and prosperity.  

“We love making and distributing ultra-premium spirits that bring people together and make life enjoyable,” Chip and Natalie said

At the time of writing, Noël’s products are available in some Louisiana stores, can be picked up at the distillery, or ordered online on its website. You can find recipes and other heart-warming stories about the business in their Blog section. 

“Opening a distillery isn’t something that should be taken lightly. The rules and regulations are incredibly difficult to work through and figure out, and every state is different. …” Natalie said. “So, I would encourage anyone, a woman, a man, it doesn’t really matter, but I would encourage them to plan, and if you think you have enough cash, you probably should raise more.” 


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