West Fork Whiskey Co.

West Fork occupies an evocative corner spot in the Kennedy-King neighborhood, across 17th Street from the Cannon Ball Brewing Co., close to the Monon, and about a half-mile from Tinker Street and Festiva.

August 2018Add a comment

The bar inside West Fork Whiskey.

Photo by Tony Valainis

Many 9-to-5ers dream of bursting free of their cubicle jobs, leaving the corporate world behind and making something special. West Fork’s David McIntyre streamlined the process by never reaching the cubicle in the first place.

He got pretty close. Three years ago, McIntyre and childhood friends Blake and Julian Jones, all natives of Bedford, were charting promising courses to corporate job security and compensation. McIntyre was finishing law school in Florida and keeping full-time hours as a management consultant on the side, while Julian was three years deep in med school, and Blake got an MBA from Butler and had landed a solid Indianapolis job in banking. They’d talked about opening a distillery, but never got further than having their fingers on the trigger. One morning, in a rare break between law school and work, McIntyre pulled it, filing articles of incorporation. “I called Blake and said ‘Hey, we’re doing this,’ ” McIntyre says. “Six months later I finished law school and moved back to Indianapolis the day after.”

The call was out of the blue, but not entirely. The entrepreneurial bug had bitten Blake and McIntyre early—like, really early. “Literally, on paper and pencil, we wrote up a business plan when we were about 10 years old,” McIntyre says. “We’d go on cruises as families, so Blake and I wanted to start our own cruise line.”

The maritime dream never happened, but in its place grew a distillery born from the trio’s entrepreneurial drive, growing interest in spirits, and love for their home state. “I’m the biggest Indiana guy,” McIntyre says. “It was a joke in law school. I’d mention Indiana, and everyone would mimic me and be like, ‘God’s country!’”

Today, West Fork occupies an evocative corner spot in the Kennedy-King neighborhood, across 17th Street from the Cannon Ball Brewing Co., close to the Monon, and about a half-mile from Tinker Street and Festiva. (The building was formerly a grocery store and an ad hoc church. McIntyre says a painted sign on the outside used to read “JESUS LIVES” but had decayed to “JESUS LIVE.” “One night only,” he says.)

The tasting room serves all six of West Fork’s spirits, including an unaged corn whiskey dubbed 2-Hour Delay, a 100 percent Indiana corn whiskey called All or Nothing, and a bourbon named The Colonel in honor of McIntyre’s father.

The trio jokes that they have a lot of degrees for their current line of work; Julian Jones has an undergrad degree in biochemistry from DePauw and a masters in biology from Purdue. But the goal is simple: a spirited drive to put Indiana on the map. “Kentucky claims their water is the best for making whiskey, that they have great grain,” McIntyre says. “Well, they get most of their grain from Indiana. And we’re on the same aquifer. So we’re like,‘Well, what about us?’ Our mission statement is to be the first international whiskey distiller from Indiana.”

1660 Bellefontaine St., 317-672-7468, westforkwhiskey.com

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