A new state law allowing artisan distilleries to sell carryout spirits on Sunday is being touted as an important boost for a fledgling industry. Bloomington-based Cardinal Spirits co-founder Jeff Wuslich believes it’s the first time since Prohibition that Hoosiers can purchase carryout liquor on a Sunday and he credits lawmakers for ‘creating a new industry’ in the state. "I know sometimes people will give legislators a bad rap, but they have done tremendous work for us," said Wuslich, pointing to passage in 2013 of the Indiana Artisan Distillers Law.
Wuslich and partners Rick Dietz, Jason Katz and Adam Quirk launched Cardinal Spirits in 2014, after raising $850,000 from 22 investors through Indianapolis small business crowdfunding platform LocalStake. The distiller currently has more than 200 accounts, including distributions deals with Marsh, Kroger and Meijer stores and expects to expand into Chicago by the end of the year. Last month, Cardinal Spirits entered the Louisville market, its first outside of Indiana.
"We really wanted to start something that we could make with our hands," said Wuslich. "We believe in American manufacturing and manufacturing in Indiana."
And Wuslich believes craft distilling can truly become a grass roots, Indiana grown industry. There are currently about fifteen craft distilleries in the state, including Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery and Broken Beaker Distillery, both in Indianapolis, as well as Huber’s Starlight Distillery in Clark County.
"We put $2 million into the economy over the last few years and have hired 15-20 people," said Wuslich, who buys packaging from a company in Columbus, boilers in Peru, bottles in LaPorte and routinely sources Indiana grain and botanicals.
"We wanted to showcase both our premier agricultural ingredients that we have here and also all the manufacturing components that we make in Indiana," said Wuslich. "Indiana is a tremendous place to do business and we have a lot of resources here."
Artisan distillery permissions are among a group of several state laws that went into effect July 1.