In 2013, the Indiana Legislature created a path for artisan distillers to produce and sell spirits to the public by the glass, bottle or case. The hope was to start a micro-distilling industry in Indiana, and one of the first businesses to take the leap was called Hotel Tango Distillery. It was co-founded by husband-and-wife attorneys Travis and Hilary Barnes. With the help of a handful of investors, they opened a production facility and tasting room in an early 20th century carriage house in the Fletcher Place neighborhood.
In eight years, it has grown to three tasting rooms in Indiana and retail sales in 25 states and on 120 military bases around the world. For 2022, Travis Barnes expects total sales of about $6 million.
Travis is a former Marine who served in the elite special operations Reconnaissance force. He enlisted right after 9/11, and it turned out to be a life-changing experience, going well beyond the serious injuries he suffered in Iraq. A lot of what he learned in the military is encoded in the values and processes of Hotel Tango. In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, he discusses Hotel Tango’s creation, its rocketing sales and how one of the state’s first micro-distilleries could establish such a big footprint in less than a decade.
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Looking for another podcast to try? Check out IBJ’s The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman, a monthly discussion about diversity and inclusion in central Indiana’s business community.