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By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Profile
Nov 7th, 2022

photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK

The South loves pecans. Their distinctly buttery flavor has been adored in pies, cakes, cookies, pralines, and even craft beer. This edible seed is rich in protein, fiber, heart-healthy nutrients and can be traced back to the sixteenth century. In fact, the name comes from an Algonquin word used to refer to a variety of nuts like walnut and hickory nuts. Currently, the United States produces close to forty percent of the world’s pecans with Georgia leading production. Its popularity is undeniable, but most apparent during the holiday season. Regardless of how or when you enjoy this savory American staple, its abundance is a testament to its versatility, one that Kinloch Plantation Products is eager to share with the world. 

Founded by Tommy Hatfield, owner, and president, Kinloch Plantation Products is one of a few key companies producing pecan oil, which is considered one of the healthiest types of cooking oils on the market. Hailing from Winnsboro, Louisiana, Hatfield’s family was originally in the lumber business. Around 1996, he was “looking for something else to do” and a friend mentioned the pecan oil industry, which was in its beginning stages. It would take him a few years to move forward with the idea, slowly putting the company together around 2003 and finally opening for business in 2005. 

It took a while for the company to find its stride. At the time, not many folks had heard of pecan oil. But learning the industry helped Hatfield and his team better understand the benefits of their product by way of the main ingredient. “They’re the healthiest nut, really, on the market,” says Hatfield, referring to the plethora of health benefits of the bite-sized treat. A USDA study shows pecans are richer in antioxidants than any other popular nut, including almonds, cashews, macadamias, peanuts, and walnuts. Additionally, they are low in saturated fats, have over ninety percent of unsaturated fats, and are rich in vitamin E (which has amazing anti-inflammatory properties). With a pedigree like that, any kitchen would be incomplete without it.  

Another learning curve for Hatfield was becoming familiar with the pecan growing industry, which has quite a few moving parts. The common practice consists of growers selling directly to shelling companies, which in turn sell the nuts wholesale. Currently, Kinloch pecans originate in Texas and go through quite a journey before heading to Louisiana. First, the company buys the nuts from a sheller, and then they are shipped to California where the nuts are pressed. The oil is then placed in 1000-liter totes, and driven back to the Winnsboro plant for bottling. 

Over the years, Hatfield has received a number of compliments on the company’s slim glass bottles which are packaged like a fine wine, and handsomely display their logo, a picture of his wife’s family home. This quaint, river-style cottage called Kinloch Plantation represents a history that can be traced “way back” to the mid-1800s. His wife’s family arrived in the United States from France by way of Scotland where they “picked up” the surname Kinloch, known as a habitational name. Ultimately, the gesture is one that not only honors his marital union, but also the diverse heritage of the south. 

Sold as a specialty product, Kinloch Pecan Oil is predominantly sold by small vendors, boutiques, and a few grocery store chains like Whole Foods. Because pecan oil sales have been eclipsed by trending oils like coconut and avocado oil (but not for long), many are just discovering what Kinloch likes to call “the secret of the South.” This company’s oil is extracted by a chemical-free process known as expeller pressing where no external heat is used. There are no additives, preservatives, or stabilizers introduced during the refining process. In other words, customers are getting one hundred percent pecan oil. Additionally, the oil has been deodorized, providing a neutral flavor that enhances the flavor of any ingredient. Light and mellow, it makes the perfect base for salad dressing, infusing herbs, or a butter substitute in baking. With its high smoke point of 470 degrees, the flavor of the pecan oil does not overpower the food and is ideal for searing, grilling, braising, stir-frying, baking, and sautéing. 

Another Kinloch product that no gourmand should be without is Kinloch’s balsamic. Made under strict standards, the cooked grapes are aged in barrels that arrive directly from Modena, an affluent city in Northern Italy. The company partnered with an Italian grower for a simple, yet savory reason—because gourmet balsamic pairs beautifully with their pecan oil. The complex, aromatic, and subtly acidic undertones make Kinloch’s balsamic vinegar an immediate pairing to dinner favorites such as pasta, beef, soft cheese, or fresh fruit. The depth of sweet and sour flavor of this high-quality, aged balsamic is the drizzle your salad has been craving and the gift your kitchen pantry can’t wait to hold. If you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a treat!

Always tapping into their customer base, Kinloch is currently working on a cookie, one that has already been making waves at conferences. “People just absolutely love the cookies,” says Vice President Bert Hammons. They are called Contemporary Tea Cakes and the company decided to add them as a product because they have yet to come across anyone who hasn’t loved them. “A couple thousand of them go through the show and they’ll all be gone by the time we get back,” he adds. 

Though a small, family-owned business, Kinloch products have traveled all over the United States, Mexico, Canada, Germany, and even Japan. “We sent seven thousand bottles over to Japan the year before last,” informs Hatfield. Even then, their most significant purchaser is none other than the multinational technology company, Amazon. With over five hundred global ratings, this certified Louisiana product has a five-star rating. One review raved about their first experience writing, “Wow! What a thrill to have a great-tasting oil that gives my food a subtle difference. My first use was to fry a fish filet and it gave it such a nice flavor that I couldn’t wait to try it with other foods.”

If you consider yourself an everyday gourmet, elevate your daily meals and perfect your haute cuisine endeavors with their specialty products—Kinloch Pecan Oil and Kinloch Balsamic Vinegar. Local, fresh, and healthy, let your palate get the best of what Louisiana has to offer.

Kinloch Plantation Products offers a wide range of recipes on their website https://pecanoil.com. So, go snag their delightful products at 1304 Corneil Street, Winnsboro, LA 71295, and enjoy one of their tasty recipes.