Spirits of Zionsville: West Fork Whiskey Company
Writer / Heather Chastain
Photograher / Brian Brosmer
Hoosier pride and a love of whiskey are the founding principles behind West Fork Whiskey Company. When childhood friends, David McIntyre and Blake Jones decided they wanted to start a spirit brand, they knew they wanted to pay homage to the great state of Indiana.
“Indiana has some of the best corn in the world,” said McIntyre. “Corn is what Indiana is known for, so it only made sense for us to produce a spirit utilizing corn.”
West Fork Whiskey Company uses locally sourced corn from Sugar Creek Malt Company in Lebanon.
Production began Dec. 26, 2015, at the company’s facility at 86th and Zionsville roads, and has increased five-fold since that time.
“We were only doing two runs a week in a 50-gallon still … which is pretty small,” McIntyre said. “We’re still doing two runs a week, but now we’ve got a 264-gallon still. We’re pretty pleased with how far we’ve come in such a short time.”
The founders are bankers by trade and still maintain their full-time jobs. They are working to get the new distillery off the ground, all the while following new Indiana spirit laws passed in 2014.
“We plan to have a tasting room as soon as the mandatory three-year waiting period is over,” he said. “We received our license at the end of 2015. So, until 2018, we can only be a production facility.”
While some may have been discouraged by this, especially since some competitors began their business prior to 2014 and are able to provide tasting rooms, McIntyre said it has forced them to change their mindset.
“It’s given us more time to focus on being quality intensive,” he said. “We want our tasting room to be a by-product of our quality spirits. Our plan is to have a tasting room available the day we can be open.”
In order to focus on producing quality whiskey, the duo brought in Blake Jones’ brother, Julian, a trained scientist, to be the full-time distiller.
“He’s the heart behind the actual production,” McIntyre said.
Adding Julian has allowed them to focus on selling their first two whiskeys: Double Down and 2 Hour Delay. Double Down is a corn whiskey aged in bourbon barrels, while 2 Hour Delay is a handmade grain white whiskey. In December, West Fork Whiskey will debut The Colonel, its first bourbon.
West Fork Whiskey can be purchased at Crown Liquors and Elite Beverage, as well as at the bar at The North End Barbeque, the Renaissance Hotel and Rebar. They plan to expand as soon as they can.
“We have a lot of barrels aging, “McIntyre said. “Right now, we just don’t have the inventory to supply to bigger chains just yet.”
But that hasn’t stopped the positive reviews. McMcIntyre said West Fork Whiskeys have received nothing but praise.
“It’s been fantastic. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback … really, just glowing responses to our quality. It means a lot.”
So where does the company name come from? McIntyre explained it was chosen because of the West Fork of the White River.
“But don’t worry,” he laughed. “We aren’t getting water from the White River.”
You can learn more about West Fork Whiskey Company online: westforkwhiskey.com