Sun King plans to open $5M distillery in Carmel in 2017

September 7, 2016
The 15,000-square-foot facility will be built between the proposed headquarters for Allied Solutions LLC and the Monon Trail. (Image courtesy DELV Design)

Sun King Brewing Co. is branching out into distilling and opening its first location in Carmel by the end of 2017.

The Indianapolis-based brewery on Wednesday announced plans for a $5 million craft distillery and tap room in Carmel’s Midtown development, which is between City Center and the Arts & Design District.

The 15,000-square-foot facility will be built between the proposed headquarters for Allied Solutions LLC and the Monon Trail, near where Third Street SW exists today.

Allied, a Carmel-based company that sells insurance, lending, and marketing products to financial institutions across the country, announced plans for its five-story, 137,000-square-foot building in January and broke ground on the nearly $33 million project in July.

The two-story distillery and tap room will have production capacity of up to 10,000 proof gallons and seating for 300 people, including space on the rooftop deck that will overlook the Monon Trail.

Justin Moffett, principal of Carmel-based Old Town Development LLC, said he started talking to Sun King about two years ago about opening a location in Midtown, but initially thought it would be a taproom, similar to the existing location on 96th Street in Fishers.

“We were surprised when they came back and said, ‘We want to do it, but we want to do a craft distillery,’” Moffett said. “It was exciting to hear that they thought that would be the best location to launch that business.”

Old Town Development is the primary developer for Midtown and is partnering with Sun King on the distillery project.

No public incentives are tied to the project. Revenue from the Midtown tax increment financing district is expected to fund the four-story parking garage that will be to the south of Allied Solutions and Sun King. Leftover funds will be allocated to a plaza that will be surrounded by the two buildings, the Monon Trail and the parking garage, Moffett said.

Sun King co-founder and head brewer Dave Colt, who completed his distiller’s education at the Distilled Spirits Epicenter in Louisville, will oversee the distillery operations. Sun King expects to produce flagship spirits, along with traditional products like whiskey, gin and rum. Seasonal spirits will also be offered at limited times of the year. 

Spirits and beer will be available for on-site consumption and take-home purchases.

Moffett said there is also a “significant food element” to the project, but declined to release further details.

“As we get into it, some of the food announcements might be as exciting to the market as this is,” Moffett said.

Sun King has considered tapping into distilling for years, but has recently been focused on ramping up beer production after successfully lobbying the state to triple the amount of beer small brewers can sell annually to 90,000 barrels.

In December, Sun King co-founder Clay Robinson told IBJ that distilling was still on their radar, “but it’s a few years out.”

“Since our first keg of beer rolled out, we’ve been experimenting with new flavors and ingredients and testing new techniques and technology,” Robinson said in a prepared statement. “Distilling handcrafted spirits is a natural evolution from the creativity and methods that go into craft brewing, and we are excited to begin producing small batch, uniquely Indiana spirits with the same attention and quality that we give to our beer.”

In July 2013, a new state law allowed already-licensed breweries, wineries and distilleries to obtain permits to produce and sell spirits by the glass, bottle and case. Previously, state law required distillers to sell only to distributors.

The craft distilling market has been growing nationally — increasing from 234 craft distilleries in the U.S. at the end of 2011 to 580 in 2014 — and gaining momentum in the state. As of December, Indiana had issued 13 artisan distiller licenses and several were in process.

Construction on the distillery is expected to start in the winter, and it could open in fall 2017.

If the timeline holds, the Carmel distillery will open before Sun King’s proposed destination brewery and tasting room opens in Fishers.

The Fishers project initially was scheduled to open his year but the project was officially delayed in May 2015 when the city of Fishers extended the incentives package until 2018. The amended deal requires construction to start in 2017 and be completed by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, Sun King has been operating a 6,000-square-foot tap room and small-batch brewery in the North by Northeast Shopping Center at 7848 E. 96th St.

“We are still committed to develop the 14 acres of land that we purchased in Fishers, and we need to make sure the timing is right given all of the development in that area,” Sun King spokeswoman Beth Belange said in an email.


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