Alchemy Spirit House Is Coming to Zionsville
Anyone who says that Zionsville doesn’t have a night life clearly has not patronized the heart of the village recently. The word is getting out beyond Boone County that there are some incredible existing establishments that cater to the “after-hours” and 21-and-over crowd, and I am thrilled to share the news about a brand-new face who’s coming to Zionsville.
Straight Out of Maui
Mark Nigbur, founder and owner of Alchemy Spirit House, is Zionsville’s newest business owner and resident. Nigbur, his wife, Laurie, and their infant son have relocated from the Maui to Zionsville and are working fervently toward the grand opening of Nigbur’s distillery that is located where the former Endurance House was in the South Village—a Kite Harris property.
If you’re a fan of Kettle One vodka, Nigbur says, “Wait until you get some of the Alchemy Spirit vodka in the next couple of months!’”
Nigbur got his start in the distillery industry in the early 2000s while living in Colorado Springs. He had the second distillery in Colorado.
“I was a Kettle One drinker and have a chemistry, physics and math mind,” Nigbur said. “I used to own a company that made hockey equipment for the NHL and traveled selling products to NHL teams. I was flying back from a trade show—drinking Kettle One—reading a United Airlines magazine on how to brew beer—I don’t drink beer—so I thought to myself that I bet I could make a better vodka. So, I took my Sharpie out and drew the still that I actually built and is one of the most efficient and pure stills in the world used for making ethanol.”
A Distiller’s Dream
Fast forward, Nigbur knew he was on to something revolutionary and sold his hockey company to start a distilling company called Pure Distilling. He produced a vodka called ALTIUS.
“I started distilling out of grain that was from the Midwest,” Nigbur shared. “It was a very pure vodka, and everyone loved it. It was right at the beginning of the craft vodka craze. Tito was just getting started, Grey Goose was just getting revved up and martini bars were just on the cusp of starting to open in cities and small towns all over, so it was a perfect time for [distilling] vodka.”
Word got out about Nigbur’s brand of vodka, and he received stellar reviews.
“I’ve been [distilling] for 14 years and have built [Pure] into a huge brand, and when you do that, you become well known in this industry, and you sometimes attract certain people,” Nigbur shared. “One day, a gentleman called and said, ‘I know you guys don’t do tours, but can I come up and see what you’re doing? I’m in the industry, and I want to see what you’re doing.’ So, this gray-haired gentleman came over, and I showed him around, and he kept looking at me. I had a goatee at that time, and my hair has been peroxided since I was 12.”
Nigbur continued, “I asked him where he was from and was he staying on Maui, and he said he was staying at ‘Sammy’s’ house. I said, ‘Sammy Hagar? I didn’t know he lived here. I’m a big fan of his.’ And this gentleman is just staring at me like I’m out of my mind. I find out that [Hagar] lives five minutes from where I lived on Maui.”
The story goes that this man left and went to the store to buy a bottle of Nigbur’s vodka and took it to Hagar’s house.
“I found out later that the gentleman called Sammy and said, ‘You’ve got to see this guy. He makes unbelievable vodka and looks like you!’ So, I have done a lot of businesses since then with Sammy Hagar, and I’ve never had the heart to tell him that I’ve been peroxiding my hair since I was 12 because I was a Rod Stewart fan.”
Sometime after the visit from the “gentleman” whose identity had not yet been revealed at this point in the story, Nigbur received a phone call.
“I get a phone call, and I hear this guy say, ‘Hey, this is Sammy Hagar.’ And I hung up. He called back and said, ‘I’m serious—this is Sammy Hagar! I’ve got to talk to you about your vodka,’ and he started rambling, and I’m like, ‘OK.’ He said he was coming to Maui and wanted to meet me. Lo and behold, he came to the distillery with his family and takes one long look at me, and then he put his arms around me and said, ‘Oh, man!’ I looked at him and said, ‘Oh, man!’”
Hagar had just sold his tequila brand, Cabo Wabo, and wanted to go into the rum business.
“I told Sammy that I’d work on a rum for him, but it was going to taste the way I wanted it to taste—down and dirty. I made a couple of samples, and he picked one and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ He got with my partners and struck a deal, and Sammy’s Beach Bar rum was created.”
When asked who the “gentleman” was who created the fateful chain of events that one day at his distillery, Nigbur answered, “He was the president of Cabo Wabo Tequila. You just never know who’s going to come into your life.”
Why Zionsville? Why Now?
Nigbur’s wife is from the northwestern region of Indiana and was already familiar with Zionsville. He and his wife visited the town, fell in love, and now they have moved from their island paradise to their Midwestern dream, where they are eager to raise their young son and become entrenched in the community’s activities and goings-on.
In my follow-up story, I will share with you what exactly Nigbur plans on doing with the former Endurance House space, what it will look like and what people can expect from this new spirit house. I will also share with you what makes Nigbur’s distilling techniques unique compared to anyone else’s in the world. Meanwhile, Nigbur is fast at work, making connections about town and getting his place prepared for a grand opening that he is hopeful will be in winter 2019.
“We [Nigbur and his wife] are so excited to come to Zionsville,” Nigbur shared. “We are so excited to just do everything that Zionsville has to offer. We bought a house, and we got a local bank, and we are just so grateful to everybody in Zionsville—our Zionsville crew—who’ve been helping us along this journey. I have a beautiful family, and we’re in a beautiful place, so now we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and have some fun!”
Zionsville Welcomes Alchemy
Mayor Tim Haak is excited for Nigbur’s new business and welcomes him and his family to Zionsville.
“Locals don’t have to go to Carmel, Westfield or Indianapolis to have options for dinner,” Haak said. “They can stay right here in Zionsville where they get to know the business owners, and the business owners, in turn, get to know their patrons by name. Having businesses like Alchemy come to Zionsville helps add to the digest of ‘things to do’ that attracts people to our town. The positive things about our community that we’ve always known are now being exposed to others from around the state, the region and the nation. We are a destination that people are willing to drive an hour plus away from—just ask Shari Jenkins with Noah Grant’s.”
Alchemy will be located in a Kite Harris property, and Zionsville resident and developer/principle at Kite Harris Bob Harris shared why he feels Alchemy is a good fit for the town.
“We can rent space in this town that’s ‘office’ space all day long, but we’ve always been about bringing the desired businesses to town, like Rosie’s and Bub’s Burgers,” Harris stated. “We’ve always looked for that niche that’s not filled in this town, and we go chasing after it instead of putting up the ‘for lease’ sign and letting people call us.”
Stay tuned for my upcoming piece on the grand opening of Alchemy and the science behind the spirits!