News

New law lets artisan distillers have tastings

by

comment
Heartland Distillery makes Indiana Vodka and a number of flavor infusions using use the spirit. Photo from Indiana Vodka. - THESTATEHOUSEFILE.COM
  • TheStatehouseFile.com
  • Heartland Distillery makes Indiana Vodka and a number of flavor infusions using use the spirit. Photo from Indiana Vodka.
Hoosiers will soon be able to sample locally distilled vodkas, gins and other spirits in the place where they were made under a law that takes effect Monday.

The law means customers can also buy products directly from the distillers, much like they can at dozens of wineries across Indiana.

"Now customers will be able to interact directly with the product," said Stuart Hobson, founder of Heartland Distillers in Indianapolis, which makes Indiana Vodka.

"It's going to allow us to do something that's not been allowed to do previously: Sell directly to the public, which is a very big tool for us," he said.

Under the previous law, artisan distillers had to use wholesalers who could place the products into stores. That can be a big hurdle for smaller, start-up distillers seeking to specialize with only a few products.

Heartland Distillery makes Indiana Vodka and a number of flavor infusions using use the spirit. Photo from Indiana Vodka. - THESTATEHOUSEFILE.COM
  • TheStatehouseFile.com
  • Heartland Distillery makes Indiana Vodka and a number of flavor infusions using use the spirit. Photo from Indiana Vodka.
That kept Huber's Orchard & Winery in rural Clark County out of the business.

Huber's currently makes wine and brandy, which state law already allows it to sell directly to the public. Owner Ted Huber said the company had been hoping for years to begin distilling vodkas, gins and other spirits as well - but not if customers couldn't sample the product and buy it on site.

"Our whole farm market is based on the idea of people coming here, spending the afternoon, taking tours, going to see the vineyards, see the fields," Huber said. "People see how things are grown. They taste it. They go to our bakery and eat ice cream."

Nearly 600,000 people come to Huber's annually for that experience. Soon, Huber said, they'll be able to sample spirits during their trips as well - and he thinks that will boost tourism.

Already, Huber's is located only about 30 minutes from Louisville and the popular Bourbon Trail in Kentucky. And some of the 750,000 people from across the world who visit that trail already make their way to Huber's as well.

"Whiskies will be something these people are very interested in," Huber said.

It will likely be awhile, though, before Huber's adds whiskies to its tasting options. Product development can take months, he said, and so Huber's is looking for a spring launch of new products.

Other distillers could need less time; some more. Indiana already has four licensed distilleries and others are expected to begin popping up. Some will likely be expansions of existing wineries or breweries. Others will likely be new entrepreneurs.

"You're definitely going to see an increase," Huber said. "If you look nationally, you'll see a major push across the United States (for artisan spirits). And although we were a little behind the curve, we're still ahead of a lot of states."

Lesley Weidenbener is the managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty..

Comments

This Week's Flyers

Around the Web