Rank Wildcat Spirits, LLC is owned by founder and distiller, David C. Meaux (right), a Lafayette, Louisiana lawyer and petroleum landman. One of the most common questions asked of Meaux is something along the lines of "How in the world did YOU wind up distilling rum?!" Meaux typically replies: "The distillation of fine spirits is an ancient and wonderful art form and I wanted to be a part of that." As true as that answer is, Meaux's journey to becoming Acadiana's first fully licensed distiller wasn't so simple!
It all started like many things with a conversation between men. Meaux and his friends shared an interest in fine spirits and the idea to create their own arose. The idea survived the weekend, so to speak, and soon thereafter in mid-2011, Meaux and his long-time friend, Cole LeBlanc (pictured on the right) founded Rank Wildcat Spirits, LLC. Then the real work began. Meaux leaned heavily on his legal education to begin acquiring federal, state and local licenses and LeBlanc got to work welding a still together in Guarino's Garage on the banks of the Vermillion River in Abbeville, Louisiana. In the meantime, Meaux designed the company logo and the signature Sweet Crude Rum label. By early 2012, everything was in place and Rank Wildcat Spirits became the second distillery in Louisiana with products on the market!
Soon thereafter, Meaux and LeBlanc invited their friends, Kevin Guarino, David Buchholz and John Sledge into the company as partners. After a couple of years, however, Meaux and his business partners decided to pursue different paths with Meaux acquiring full ownership of the distillery in late 2014. After leaving his "day job" to man the distillery full time, Meaux's first order of business was to make significant upgrades to Lulu the still (pictured below) and certain other key areas of the operation. His current task is to make Sweet Crude Rum and Black Gold Rum household names all across the southern United States! The future is bright and while the road is not an easy one, Meaux remains true to the company motto: Conantur perseverare (Endeavor to Persevere).
"Easy! My partners and I were petroleum landmen in Lafayette. As many may know, a 'wildcat well' in the oilfield is comparable to a 'Hail Mary pass' in football. In the old days, the term was sometimes modified with the adjective 'rank' to delineate a project that was a real long shot. I stumbled onto this archaic turn of phrase years ago at the outset of an early leasing job. When it came time to pick a name for the fledgling company, it was a perfect fit. After all, a Lafayette landman attempting to open a rum distillery is about as 'rank wildcat' as it gets!"
- David C. Meaux, founder and distiller