West Fork Whiskey, Indianapolis’s first and only self-produced and locally-sourced whiskey distillery will open a tasting room and distillery at 1660 North Bellefontaine Street in early Fall 2017. Projected opening is September. The building will include a distillery, where West Fork Whiskey’s signature whiskeys will be produced, a bar, a lounge, a dining room, and a retail component where patrons can buy their whiskey.

“We couldn’t be happier to be opening downtown,” said Co-Founder David McIntyre, “And specifically in the Kennedy-King neighborhood. We greatly look forward to opening up to the public, and sharing our whiskey.”

Along with selling bottles directly, West Fork Whiskey will be offering a cocktail menu, whiskey flights and traditional pours of whiskey as well as food. R+B Architects has handled most of the design while they have hired Emergent Construction to handle the build out and rehab of the historical building.

I had a chance to sit down with Blake Jones, Co-Founder & President, to leare more about this exciting business.

Rachel: I sat with your parents (awesome people, by the way) during a recent visit to FARMBloomington for a dinner event and they told me you quit a full-time company job to pursue whiskey production. This leads me to ask – why whiskey and why now?

Blake: Great question! People always ask “why whiskey, why Indiana, and why now?” Each of the three co-founders all had something else going on when we first started talking about the possibility of starting a whiskey distillery. I was a banker, David was a consultant, and Julian was a medical school student. We chose whiskey for a number of reasons, and probably the most prevalent of them is that we simply love the spirit. When we first started the company there wasn’t really anybody here making whiskey, which we thought was a big shame as a significant amount of Indiana’s corn goes to Kentucky and Tennessee to make their whiskey. So we thought, “let’s start a company that’s sole focus is to make the best whiskey possible right here in Indianapolis using only Indiana ingredients.”

Rachel: Why the name “West Fork Whiskey”?

Blake: We wanted a name that was Indiana-esque without being too in your face Indiana. Not to mention that West Fork Whiskey was actually the third name we came up. At first it was “White River Distilling Co” but we moved away from that name and went towards “One-Nine Whiskey Co.” Then we found out that was too close to another distillery’s name in Washington, D.C., so we finally landed on West Fork Whiskey Co. A lot of people don’t know that the West Fork of the White River flows through Indianapolis so it’s a nod both back at the City and the State.

Rachel: Who are your partners in this venture?

Blake: As I mentioned earlier, there are two other co-founders, David McIntyre and Julian Jones. We all technically have titles and lanes that we general adhere to but its all hands on deck at the moment.

Rachel: I like your tasting center location selection – East-Side Kennedy-King Neighborhood – by what drew you to this area?

Blake: We are all really passionate about the city and the state and saw all of the development going on around the 16th Street corridor and wanted to be a part of it. Plus there is an awesome brewery and eatery (Cannon Ball) across the street so the combo of a distillery and brewery should be pretty amazing.

Rachel: Tell me more about your “self-produced and locally-sourced whiskey distillery” … why is it special? Also, who’s supplying you with your 100% Indiana grain (FYI I immediately think of Sugar Creek Malt Co)?

Blake: One of the aspects of whiskey and distilling in general that rubs us the wrong way is that a lot of whiskey and distilling brands don’t actually make their own spirits. When we say “self-produced and locally-sourced distilling,” we mean we mash, ferment, distill and age 100% of our own products using only grain from Indiana. This gives us control of all aspects of our production to ensure we are producing the best whiskey possible. As for grain you got it, Sugar Creek Malt Co.is our grain supplier and they have been awesome to work with.

Rachel: What’s the difference between un-aged and aged whiskey?

Blake: That’s simple, un-aged whiskey means that it hasn’t had time to mature in an oak barrel. Aged whiskey is whiskey that has had some time to mature in an oak barrel. There is no technical or legal definition of “aged-whiskey.”

Rachel: Tell us about the food you will offer at your tasting room. Do you have a particular chef in mind?

Blake: This one has gotten away from from us a little bit. We will be offering food but won’t actually have a kitchen; therefore, won’t have an in house chef. That said, we may or may not be working with a certain neighbor to our north to allow our guests to order hot and fresh food directly to their table.

Rachel: Lastly, do you know the difference between a whiskey and bourbon (just kidding, but would love your answer)?

Blake: Bourbon is simply a type of whiskey! Whiskey is the broader umbrella category of spirits of which bourbon is a part. There are several others types of whiskey like Rye Whiskey, Corn Whiskey, Wheat Whiskey and Malted Whiskey just to name a few.

About West Fork Whiskey Co: West Fork Whiskey is Indianapolis’s first all-whiskey distillery sourcing 100% Indiana grain. Started in 2014, West Fork Whiskey currently offers three products: 2 Hour Delay: an un-aged whiskey made from 100% Indiana corn, Double Down: a 100% Indiana corn whiskey aged in used bourbon-barrels, and The Colonel: West Fork Whiskey’s wheat-centric bourbon. Learn more at www.westforkwhiskey.com.

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