While Indiana may have been the first state in the Midwest to capitalize on riverboat gaming, it will be the last to the party when it comes to micro-distilling, one of the fastest growing industries in the US. In 2010 there were 92 craft distillers in the U.S. and today there are over 750. Unfortunately, none have that growth has come from Indiana.
Over the past few years, the Indiana Brewers Guild has successfully chiseled away several regulations for craft brewers. Ironically, in 2013, they worked to add requirements for micro-distillers. To apply for an artisan distilling permit, one must already possess an artisan beer or wine permit for three years with no violations. This poses a large barrier to entry for new-comers and protects the established order.
Michigan, the only state to lose population during the 2010 census, quickly removed laws for beer, wine and spirits in order to diversify away from the auto-industry. Because of Indiana’s laws, Bill Welter, a Valparaiso native, started Journeyman Distillery in the sleepy town of Three Oaks, MI. Since, it has become a mecca for high dollar tourists from Chicago while generating big tax revenues for the state. In addition, his commitment to source local organic ingredients has supported many other small business owners.