After a long career in the alcohol industry, a southside man is ready to start making his own spirits and brewing beer, and has picked Greenwood for his venture.
Dragon Rock Distillery is planned for the city’s east side, off of Main Street east of Interstate 65. The $7 million project will include a brewery, distillery, warehouse for storing the aging spirits and a small-plates restaurant.
Franklin Township resident Dave Hunter has been envisioning the project for years and said the business will become a destination. He is finalizing his financial plan, which includes his personal investment, private investors, a bank loan and help from the city.
The 12-acre location at Commerce Park East Drive and Main Street was picked because of its proximity to the interstate, which will draw customers, he said. Hunter wants to use as many locally-grown products as possible, even growing small batches of corn, rye and barley on the property to show consumers the process.
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He’ll open his business for tours so that the public can see how rum, brandy, moonshine, vodka and gin are made, and build barns as needed to store the barrels for aging.
“At the end, it is really about making whiskey and putting it away to age it, then you can call it bourbon,” Hunter said.
He’ll also brew about five flavors of beer and serve 24 beers, including lots of other local flavors.
The restaurant will feature a small-plates concept, where diners share orders of food so as not to take away from sampling the different drinks.
Dragon Rock could have been built in Brown County, but Hunter wanted year-round exposure to customers so he picked the Greenwood site minutes from his home. He expects about 1,500 customers a week during the first two years.
He said he hopes to start construction later this year and wants the city to provide about $300,000 in roadwork at the site through the redevelopment commission.
Hunter plans to hire about 45 people eventually to work in the beer and spirit productions, warehouse, logistics, office and restaurant, he said. The facility will be about 35,000 square feet.
Dragon Rock will be on the front end of the craft spirits movement, just as the interest in craft beer and wine have grown. About 3 percent of spirits sold are considered craft, but that market share should grow to 15 percent in the coming years, Hunter said.
He expects a number of those craft distilleries to open in Indiana.
Hunter, who has made a career as an alcohol wholesaler, broker and importer, started in the craft distillery business about four years ago when he started having Michael Godard gin and vodka made in Holland and shipped to the United States. Godard is a global artist whose work appears on the bottles.
The price per bottle was about $30, which was comparable to other brands. Competitors’ prices have dropped, however, so now is the time for Hunter to make his own, he said.
The property is in a tax increment finance district and already has the proper zoning needed.
Dragon Rock Distillery
What: A 35,000-square-foot distillery, craft brewery and small-plates restaurant that could eventually open for tours and become a destination venue
Where: East side of Greenwood, at Main Street and Commerce Parkway East Drive at the Precedent South Business Center
Who: Dave Hunter, a southside Indianapolis resident, and two private investors
When: Construction could start later this year if the financing plan is finalized