A new facility planned for West Fork Whiskey Co. in Westfield represents the company’s ongoing mission to continue growing its brand across Central Indiana and beyond, according to co-owner Blake Jones.
Back in 2014, Jones, along with his brother and head distiller Julian and childhood friend David McIntyre, founded West Fork to meet what they saw as a need for quality whiskey made with ingredients grown right here in the Hoosier state.
“My childhood best friend and my brother set out to make great whiskey, and the reason is because we love the state of Indiana and we grow great corn here,” Jones says. “We thought it was a big shame, with the state’s agricultural background, that there wasn’t a well-known whiskey distillery here. We were getting frustrated with some of the whiskey available at the time that sold for $50 to $70 retail and was worth about $30.”
The founders cashed out their 401(k) accounts, secured a loan, and by the end of 2015 they began producing what they call uniquely Indiana whiskey out of an Indianapolis facility.
“Since then, we started raising a little money and have been able to scale the company up,” Jones says. “We opened our cocktail bar and have been able to enter new states and launch new products. We’ve been producing whiskey for about four years now.”
The company’s products include Old Hamer straight bourbon and rye whiskeys, as well as Mint Condition, a light whiskey cocktail with natural mint and lemon that comes canned.
Jones says the decision to expand into Westfield was based on multiple factors, not least of which is the simple need for more production space as the company continues to grow and offer more products.
“It was a little bit of everything,” he says. “We knew we needed to make a lot more whiskey than we’re making and age it in the appropriate amount of time, and when we looked around Indianapolis we couldn’t find the amount of space we wanted to create an agricultural experience.”
The trio then began searching in the donut counties surrounding Indy, specifically seeking out a spot close to a highway that would be big enough to house not only a production facility, but also a restaurant and even a space for tastings and educational events for the public.
“When we got to know about Grand Park and everything that was going on on the northside and Westfield, we realized it had a combination of a lot of great things for us,” Jones says. “It’s a growing area close to the highway, and we knew we could get some good land needed for what we want to do.”
The new facility, located across from Grand Park at the northeast corner of 191st Street and Horton Road, is slated for opening some time in 2021, and at approximately 35,000 total square feet, Jones says it will be one of the biggest craft whiskey production facilities in the United States.
“We’re not sure on an opening date yet, but if things work well from a zoning perspective, we might be able to break ground in November,” Jones says. “If that happens we’d like to open by late spring or early summer next year. If that doesn’t happen we’ll have to break ground around March, and open in late summer or fall.”
The owners are planning for a 4,000-square-foot restaurant at the new location that will feature menu items well known in the state of Indiana such as tenderloins and corn. A 5,000-square-foot event space will feature a glass wall allowing visitors to view the production facility and learn from the staff members about how whiskey is made.
“Most of the building will be whiskey production space – aging, processing and distilling,” Jones says. “We’ll give really good hands-on tours in that space. Also, using all Indiana ingredients as a whiskey company, we thought it would be great to have a restaurant that also highlights Indiana agriculture, whether it’s great pork products, awesome steaks from local farmers or corn when it’s in season.”
The West Fork owners are also planning a cocktail bar, as well as outdoor amenities at the Westfield location.
“It’s going to be a very cool, unique environment,” Jone says. “There’s nothing like it in Central Indiana. We love the state and the agricultural background here, and we’re passionate about whiskey. We’re very excited about expanding and being able to grow, and offer more products and a unique place for people to come and learn about us and about Indiana agriculture.”
To learn more about West Fork Whiskey Co., call 317-672-7468 and visit westforkwhiskey.com.
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Amy Payne