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Louisiana fraternity brothers find a new profession in sugarcane – rum
By Tom Adkinson
July 14, 2023

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Tait Martin, left, and David Meaux enjoy their own products at a landmark restaurant location that quit serving food in 2016. Image by Tom Adkinson

LAFAYETTE, La. – What do a college professor and a lawyer who are looking for work different from their chosen professions choose for a new vocation?

If they are south Louisiana fraternity brothers, they become rum distillers, earn industry awards, find markets nationwide for their products and throw parties. That’s the south Louisiana way, especially since they could open their distillery in a landmark restaurant building known throughout the region.

The professor is Dr. Tait Martin (he has a doctorate in cognitive processing and taught marketing and public relations), and the lawyer is David Meaux. Martin is from Cutoff, La., and Meaux is from Opelousas, so their Louisiana credentials are solid. Together, they created Wildcat Brothers Distilling.

Gator Cove
The giant rooftop lettering for Gator Cove is a perpetual beacon for the home of Wildcat Brothers Distillery. Image by Tom Adkinson


Their distillery takes up only a small portion of a building that shouts “GATOR COVE” in letters 10-feet tall on its long metal roof. Gator Cove hasn’t served a platter of fried seafood since going out of business in 2016, but Martin says there’s no reason to repaint the roof.

“Gator Cove was in business for 50 years, so it’s a local landmark. People from here know where we are, and the name on the roof makes it easy for visitors to find us. Even people who still come looking for the restaurant are happy to find our distillery,” he said.

It’s a happy occasion, indeed, to arrive at Wildcat Brothers Distilling. Martin said Wildcat Brothers holds the second distillery license ever issued in Louisiana. Martin said the first licensed distillery was a century or two ago and is long since out of business. That makes Wildcat Brothers the oldest operating distillery in the state, even though it dates only to 2011.

“We’re the little Cajun engine that could,” Martin said.

In an industry awash in designer whiskey distilleries, Wildcat Brothers stands out because it makes rum.

wildcat brothers rums
The Heritage line of rums at Wildcat Brothers consists of Filofet, Sweet Crude and Noire. Image by Tom Adkinson

Meaux is the self-taught chief distiller, and his Heritage line of rums has three unchanging recipes.

One is called Sweet Crude, another is Fifolet (a spiced and flavored rum) and the third is Noire (a French-style rum aged in Buffalo Trace whiskey barrels). All are 80 proof, and all ingredients – especially the core ingredient of sugarcane – come from within 50 miles of Lafayette. Martin says the distillery is in the middle of “the Napa Valley of sugarcane.”

“We want all of our products to be sippable. That way, cocktails featuring them come easy,” Martin said.

An example is the rouler, the official cocktail of Lafayette, made with Wildcat Brothers rum, lime juice, simple syrup, bitters, club soda and ice.

rum spices
Tait Martin lifts a bag of flavoring spices from an aging barrel during a Wildcat Brothers tour. Image by Tom Adkinson

lulu 100 gallon still
Lulu, a 100-gallon still was the first at Wildcat Brothers Distillery. Its companion now is the 500-gallon still named Zula. Image by Tom Adkinson

One-hour distillery tours show off the company’s two stills. The original is Lula, with a 100-gallon capacity. The other is Zula, named for Martin’s great-grandmother, with a 500-gallon capacity.

Tours include tastes of the three primary rums that are widely distributed and an introduction to specialty products that are available only at Gator Cove. Martin also conducts an extended session he calls the President’s Distillery Tour and Rum School.

The rum school runs for two hours – or as Martin says, “a little longer if we’re having a really good time.”

Trip-planning resources: and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available on The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is included in the third edition of the book, which is available at

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