Indiana’s craft distillery industry continues to grow

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- First, it was craft breweries. Now, the craft distillery industry is on the rise.

The American Craft Spirits Association says the number of production facilities has tripled in the last decade, with about 1,600 distillieres open now.

Members of the Indiana Distillers Guild say there's already more than 20 craft distilleries in our state and the number is growing.

One local example is 8th Day Distillery on Indy’s near east side, founded by brothers Matt and Mason Lamping.

"For the past 16 months we’ve been a production facility only, so all of our spirits have been enjoyed through a bar, restaurant or liquor store," Matt Lamping explained.

"Come April or May time frame, or late spring, we can actually join our other friends in the industry and open up a tasting room," he said.

Brand new distilleries have to wait 18 months before opening a tasting room,
and Indiana’s laws can create other challenges.

While distilleries have been able to sell their products on Sunday from their tasting rooms since 2016, they still can’t ship their products directly to customers.

Another law: Distilleries have to make all their ingredients in house,
which has forced them to shake-up their menus and get creative.

"We’re not allowed to serve alcohol we don’t make in some form or fashion, and that’s where we’ve gotten creative with a lot of house made simple syrups and a lot of seasonal ingredients," said Brian Willsey, Co-founder and COO at Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery.

Despite the hurdles, Hotel Tango has found success in Fletcher Place and is growing in more ways than one.

"We acquired a 5 acre plot of land, farm property on the south side of town, that we’re going to utilize to grow our own herbs, fruits and vegetables and stuff we put in the cocktails," Willsey said.

Willsey, who also serves as treasurer for Indiana Distillers Guild, says the guild wants to make sure their voices are heard as the industry continues to grow.

"We’ve come together to form the guild to kind of shout a little bit louder to our representatives and make sure that this young industry continues to grow and blossom in Indiana, create jobs , create tax revenue for the state and create an awesome opportunity for us business owners and the public to enjoy local crafts spirits," Willsey said.