Alchemy Spirit House: Zionsville Welcomes Its First Micro Distillery
The long- awaited grand opening of Alchemy Spirit House in Zionsville, Indiana, has arrived! The addition of a quality and unique distillery puts the town on the map in a different tourism category and will draw in spirits enthusiasts from all over the region, and the nation for that matter.
Not His First Rodeo
Mark Nigbur, founder and owner of Alchemy Spirit House, is a bit of a “rock star” in the distilling industry and has built a solid reputation—nationwide—for his brands over the years. In my story that was featured in Zionsville Monthly last fall, I introduced Nigbur, his wife, Laurie, and their young son Harrison. The Nigburs relocated to Zionsville from Maui to open Alchemy Spirit House in the space that previously housed Endurance House in South Village—a Kite Harris property.
Known for his innovative, modernist, unique and minimalist style of distilling, Nigbur brings a wealth of experience as a Master Distiller and as a pioneer in the micro/craft distilling movement. He began distilling in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2004, creating Altius Vodka from grain. In 2007, his distilling path led him to Maui, Hawaii, where he distilled vodka from Maui pineapples. He also created Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum for rock star Sammy Hagar. After distilling in Maui for 12 years, Nigbur was ready for something new.
After numerous visits to Indiana, where his wife is originally from, Nigbur found inspiration in Zionsville. It was there that his creativity and desire led him to create a one-of-a-kind distillery and tasting room experience.
A Long Time Coming
The plan was to begin the remodel when Nigbur took possession of the space in 2019 and have a grand opening in the first part of 2020 once the proper licensing and remodel was completed. Of course, Nigbur did not factor in a global pandemic into his plan and the grand opening of Alchemy Spirit House was slightly delayed and officially opened this month. A grand opening celebration will be held
at the end of August.
“During the ‘shutdown,’ we’ve been busy testing our equipment to make sure it all works,” Nigbur said. “The good news is it works. While everything was closed, we kept our staff on full pay, and our mixologist, Michael, has been here every day as we plugged away, getting all the pieces of the distillery and tasting room put together. Now, we’re just shining everything up a little bit and doing some dry runs to see how the flow is. We planned soft openings and trial runs on or around the 17th [of July].”
Nigbur continued, “We took the paper off the windows, and people have been stopping by, and they’ve been very positive, telling us they can’t wait to come in and check it out.”
The Nigburs Are All In
As previously reported, Nigbur’s wife, Laurie, is a native Hoosier. When I asked Nigbur, who’s originally from Colorado, if he’s settling in well as a Hoosier, he replied, “We bought a house here in Zionsville, and we are all in. We have great neighbors in a great community. The people here have been absolutely amazing. I like the vibe, and when we first arrived, we were hanging out in a lot of places in Zionsville, Carmel and Indy. Then COVID-19 happened, but we’re looking forward to getting into the Indy scene and hitting some of the gastropubs and cool restaurants that we want to go to. We just went to The Friendly [Tavern] for the very first time last month, and I was blown away—they were the best wings I’ve ever had in my life! We absolutely love Noah Grant’s, and The Salty Cowboy is one of our favorites. We’ve been to Auberge, and it’s great too. I am looking forward to everything reopening soon.”
Not Your Typical Tasting Room
The Nigburs could have returned to her stomping grounds in northwest Indiana, and he could have looked in or around Chicago to open his distillery, but they chose Zionsville. When I asked what the attraction will be for Zionsville to be home to a micro distillery/tasting room—aside from being the first—he explained, “Alchemy Spirit House is a little more unique because it is a true tasting room. What I mean by that is, it is a tasting room that only serves what is produced there. You cannot get beer or wine. I equate it to going to Golden, Colorado, to Coors Brewery. At the end of the tour, you’ll get a Coors. If you want a Jack [Daniel’s] and Coke, it ain’t gonna happen. We’re going to do the same thing here. [Alchemy] is an industrial speakeasy, and it has some really cool nuances.”
In addition to a minimalist decor that is both sexy and cool, featuring blue velvet sofas and no TVs, Alchemy’s centerpiece is the “laboratory,” where the still and fermenting equipment are displayed behind glass walls in the heart of the building for all its guests to watch and experience as they enjoy their craft cocktails.
“What makes our distillery/tasting room a true tasting room and not a bar is that we are distilling in the same room that you’re drinking in,” Nigbur emphasized. “There’s no off-site distillery, and the fermentation tanks and stills are all right in front of you behind a solid glass wall that you have full access to see. For me, transparency is No. 1.”
What’s On Deck?
“We will have a set list of what we will be pouring every night,” Nigbur shared. “It’s going to rotate, as will our small plates offerings. We are going to do a lot of prohibition throwback [cocktails] like sidecars, lemon drops and a cosmo that will blow your mind. I want to build these cocktails where you can see them being made, and they’re not so over the top that you need $3,000 worth of equipment to produce them. I want people to enjoy their cocktails here, buy a bottle [of spirits], go home and replicate it. It’s going to be easy, and if they have additional questions, I can help them with those.”
Patrons of Alchemy will see barrels installed along the north wall that are aging rum and agave spirits over the course of a year. Once tapped, the aged spirits will promptly hit Alchemy’s nightly set list and distribution.
Upon its grand opening, Alchemy will proudly be serving its patrons its No. 1 Industry Straight Vodka—a perfectly balanced straight vodka that is exceptionally crisp and smooth—and the No. 2 Citron Vodka, infused with lemons and a hint of saffron that boasts a citrus aftertaste that gently lingers and is followed with a soft finish.
Making Alchemy Spirit House a Zionsville Brand
While establishing his roots within the community as resident, Nigbur wants to establish and build his brand as a representative of Zionsville’s business community as well.
“We are building a small brand here, and I want it to be Zionsville’s brand,” Nigbur said. “I want it to be the community’s brand. We just got picked up by what I feel is best distributor in the state—a boutique distributor, Crossroad Vintners. I absolutely love Bill Kennedy [founder of Crossroad Vintners], and I love the way he does business. To sum it up, I really want to teach [distilling] to our guests and bring back sexy, minimalist cool. I’m not here for the money, but for the experiences. Being here in Zionsville makes me happy—this place has a lot of soul.”
For more information and to book a tour of Alchemy Spirit House, visit alchemymicrodistillery.com. Be sure to follow Alchemy Spirit House on Facebook and Instagram for current happenings.