Uniquely Baton Rouge: BR natives create first Black-owned, sugarcane based vodka in Louisiana

Uniquely Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – When Bobbie Johnson and James Williams were students at Baton Rouge’s McKinley High, they never envisioned one day owning an alcohol business.

“Bobby said I got this idea, ‘let’s make our own alcohol’… I was like, I said I don’t know anything about it but let’s do it” said James Williams, co-founder and COO of Matador Vodka.

Years after leaving professions in the trucking industry, the two are now co-founders of Matador Vodka where they’re literally and figuratively calling the shots.

“One thing that we can be proud of is that we are the first, Black-owned sugarcane Vodka especially coming out of Louisiana” said co-founder and CEO, Bobbie Johnson.

Unlike traditional vodka’s, which are typically grain or potato based, Matador is even more unique featuring pure Louisiana sugarcane.

“We have a vodka that is 100 percent sugarcane based” said Williams. “You get the mouth feels of caramel and butterscotch. So it goes down really really smooth. It’s not like any other vodka you’ve ever tasted” he said.

More than just a drink, the duo says they want their product to mean something. Keeping it local, they teamed up with Sugarfield Spirits in Gonzales to make it happen.

“The branding behind it, the meaning behind it… It’s not just a product” Johnson said. “The product has some meaning. When you’re drinking it, you actually feel apart of something. We’re building and cultivating a brand that’s going to be huge, that’s going to be known to be Louisiana’s vodka” he said.

While they’re just hitting the scene and making a name for themselves in the spirits industry, they’ve got this advice for anyone pursuing a dream:

“Keep the ball moving” Williams said. “Everything that you try to do, everything that you plan may not go exactly how you wanted to. But if you have a goal in mind and something to reach toward… if you have a wall or a hurdle you’ll know how to pivot, go around it, go under, dodge the bull… that’s the slogan behind the vodka. That’s what we’ve been doing” he said.

Matador Vodka is available in local grocery stores across the Capital City with plans to expand regionally and nationally.

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