For love of the craft…

As a work traveler, I look for opportunities to learn, to experience and to drink whiskey wherever I go. One week may offer a tour of a mega distillery, the next may bring a tasting at a small liquor store or drinking mass produced bourbon at a sporting event. However, locating the out of the way or largely unknown distillers is a true joy and thrill of the hunt. I have been driving by a craft distillery called Hotel Tango in Indianapolis for months…maybe, dare I say, years. The story of the distillery is unique. They are the first distillery owned and operated by a disabled combat veteran. On this slow work day, I stopped in and met Maggie, their master distiller for a tour of their distillery and a discussion of their products.

Maggie shared that Hotel Tango began with unfinished spirits. Vodka, rum, gin and moonshine formed the foundation of their hard liquor distillations with limoncello and orangecello other additions to their family of spirits. On this day, Maggie had a batch of moonshine heating on their 150 gallon still with the wonderful aroma of cooking mash filling their small distillery room. The moonshine is a true 100% corn whiskey bottled and sold unaged. Predictably, it has a very distinct moonshine nose to it and the bite of a corn whiskey.

While Hotel Tango will be moving to a larger facility soon with mash tuns and additional stills, their current location has offered the opportunity to experiment with one-off products that have, undoubtedly, helped to develop their loyal customer base. I learned that their distribution is currently limited to 5 or 6 states with Texas serving as their 2nd largest market. However, the new location will allow them to expand in size and volume and reach many new markets.

While we discussed their current whiskey which was released in November of 2016, Maggie shared that it is a blend of 3.5 year bourbon sourced from Ohio and their own 1 year aged whiskey. It is a 90 proof, smooth whiskey. It finished with a nice rye flavor profile on the back of the tongue. Impressed by its flavor profile, I brought home a bottle and look forward to pouring it this weekend! I inquired about bourbon and learned that their first batch of bourbon is aging in the warehouse and will be ready for distribution within the next few months. I look forward to the opportunity to my return visit and sampling this new addition.

Beyond discussing production and spirits, Maggie and I had visited about the state of the bourbon/whiskey boom. Maggie shared that she believes we may be at the tail of the peak of the boom but believes that there will be an additional peak beyond the valley that is surely in the future. Like many distillers, she was quick to add the need to project the marketplace many years, if not decades, into the future. Until then, Hotel Tango will continue producing craft runs of spirits, made by hand, enjoyed by spirits lovers and cultivating a following that will likely only grow as their production increases in the months and years to come.

For more information on whiskey tango and their founder/owner Travis Barnes, visit: Thank you for your service to our country, sir. To our shared love of whiskey, we say Cheers!

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