After a week in New Orleans, we took the long way to Lafayette so that we could make one very important, and very tasty stop along the way. It’s no secret we like it hot, so a stop for the Tabasco Factory Tour seemed like a perfect stop while in Louisiana.
The Self Guided Tabasco Factory Tour
We arrived on Avery Island, the home of Tabasco. Avery Island is also home to the McIlhenny Company that has been producing Tabasco since just after the Civil War. The Tabasco Factory Tour starts in the Tabasco Museum, in the building that houses the ticket office. The museum focused on the history of Tabasco and the McIlhenny family. The tour continues through nine more phases, focusing predominantly on how Tabasco is made.
The tour starts with a walk through a greenhouse that explains what kind of peppers are used to make the special sauce. Then, we learned about the barrels that are used in the aging process. This, to me, was very interesting. I didn’t know that they aged the pepper mash, or that the aging takes place in retired bourbon barrels.
The blending floor includes dozens and dozens of vats where the peppers are mashed. The best thing? There is a little button to press that releases the smells from the blending floor. The smell alone was intoxicating. I could have stood there all day pressing that button. Then, we walked along the bottling floor, and through a separate section dedicated to advertising and marketing of Tabasco around the world.
Although a relatively short tour, we learned a lot. Being that they offer a self guided tour, though, I found myself with questions. We stopped a few times to Google answers. I wish there were some employees around to answer some questions personally. Other than that, I enjoyed the tour.
Dining After The Tabasco Factory Tour – Restaurant 1868
There isn’t much going on for miles in every direction around Avery Island. We didn’t really grab a true breakfast in New Orleans before heading out on the road. By mid day, I was famished! After finishing our Tabasco factory tour, I was thrilled to sit down at their newly revamped Restaurant 1868.
It’s a simple restaurant, with a high end cafeteria type set up. The restaurant offers a handful of Cajun style menu items and daily specials, all at reasonable prices. Every menu item is seasoned with Tabasco, of course. I chowed down on a great BBQ pulled pork, with slaw, and topped it off with the Tabasco Reserve. Hit the spot.
The Tabasco Factory Tour Country Store
At first glance, the factory tour seems to end without a tasting, which is a bit unusual for a food tour. But, in the back of the country store, they have a tasting bar all set up. We tried a mess of different flavors while shopping for Tabasco paraphernalia. We purchased a reserve hot sauce to carry back with us to Thailand. We also purchased two bottles of Tabasco spiced mustard, one for us, and one for a friend.
But, there was a problem with the computer system. The poor girl had us waiting to check out, along with a few other guests. As the clock ticked on, she kept offering us free mustard as compensation. We walked out with a bag of Tabasco mustard. In my opinion, it was the perfect way to end the tour.
Avery Island Visitor Information
We were able to find Avery Island on Google Maps, which took us directly onto the island and to the factory. There is a guard’s booth that all visitors must pass in order to reach the factory. It’s hard to miss the factory, although there is not a lot of signage until you reach the driveway.
The Tabasco factory tour is open seven days a week from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, although they only operate the bottling lines from Monday through Thursday. Admission is $5.50 per person. For nature lovers there is a Jungle Garden and Bird City, which was part of the family’s goal of preserving Avery Island.
The museum offers culinary tours as well, although we did not schedule the tour ahead of time. It’s not clear what is included in the tour in comparison to the one we took. It might be a guided tour, rather than a self-guided tour. There are also cooking classes scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Both the culinary tours and the cooking classes require advanced reservations.
Pin It! The Tabasco Factory Tour
The Lafayette Louisiana tourism office arranged for our Tabasco factory tour, but all opinions are, as always, my own.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.