In Louisiana, there are stories about a mysterious wolf-like creature known as the loup-garou. The tales are as diverse as the name, with variations including lougaroux, rugaru, roux-ga-roux and rougarou. But no matter how the name is spelled, the image of a creature stalking the Louisiana swamps has persisted for centuries.
So, what is the truth behind the loup-garou and how is the creature connected to rum?
A Louisiana werewolf
The story of the loup-garou is connected to Cajun culture and is a common legend across French Louisiana. In the legends, the creature is known to stalk sugarcane fields and bayous and has the appearance of a large man with the head of a wolf or dog with glowing red eyes. During the day, loup-garous are able to walk in human form and can transform into a wolf without the need for a full moon.
Unlike a typical werewolf, the loup-garou is thought to be specific in how it hunts its victims. Some Cajun stories tell of it craving Catholic blood. For those who don’t follow the rules of Lent, the beast will hunt them down. So, it’s no wonder the creature has been used to inspire fear and obedience in Cajun children.
Another story is that the curse of the loup-garou only lasts for 101 days. Once the creature has drawn blood, the curse will pass on to the victim and the previous person will be cured. Another way was to convince someone to cut you and then let the curse pass on to them.
A common protection method against a loup-garou is to place 13 pennies on a doorstep or windowsill. The idea is that if the creature tried to break in, it would become confused at trying to count the pennies. Apparently, the monster is unaware of the number 13 and will continuously try to count the pennies until it has to flee back to the swamps at sunrise.
Howling for rum
The legend of the loup-garou has crossed over into rum culture. As the beast likes to prowl sugarcane fields, it’s not out of the question to think that it has an appreciation for rum, and Donner-Peltier Distillers based in Thibodaux ran with that story by creating Rougaroux rum.
Although the distillery is no longer in operation, Rougaroux rum is still available for purchase. There are three bottles to choose from: Full Moon, 13 Pennies and Sugarshine. Full Moon is made from blackstrap molasses, aged in white oak barrels and carries whisky notes, while Sugarshine is a white rum and bottled at 50.5% ABV.
13 Pennies plays on the penny protection story and is flavoured with Madagascar vanilla beans, toasted pecans, and cane syrup. Interestingly, the distillery did keep 13 pennies on its doorstep just in case. All the bottles carry a menacing logo of a loup-garou hiding in a sugarcane patch, its red eyes daring people to come closer and walk on the wild side.
Caribbean folklore is intwined with rum as well and it’s worth reading about the story of the duppy and how it’s connected to booze.