Three Rivers Distilling unveils expansion

June 16th, 2017

By Megan Knowles | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Three Rivers Distilling Co. is expanding, thanks in part to the help of the Indiana Legislature.

On June 13, co-owner Aaron Pence and co-founder Stephen Blevins unveiled the company’s tasting room and bar area, which they hope to have open in August.

The area will be complete with an indoor and outdoor bar, a tasting area, a private lounge for personal events and outdoor games, Pence said. Food offerings and a covered outdoor dining area will also be available.

The expansion is expected to cost about $500,000, Pence said, while Blevins told the gathered audience it would almost double Three Rivers Distilling’s workforce.

“We can share our passion and craft with the public,” Blevins said. “This will give the public access to our entire process.”

Both Pence and Blevins were excited to add the offering to the distillery they founded in 2016 on the southeastern part of Fort Wayne.

“We hope this will be a cool new venue in a portion of Fort Wayne that doesn’t have a lot to offer right now,” Pence said.

Though construction is moving along at the distillery’s location at 224 E. Wallace St., the owners took a gamble in getting it started, Pence said.

Until recently, craft distilleries had to wait three years to add tasting rooms to their offerings, according to a Three Rivers Distilling statement.

“Last summer we decided to really focus our efforts on the structure of the artisan distiller’s permit and the effect it had on our business and the other startup distilleries in Indiana,” Pence said. “We had a great opportunity to present our case to Rep. [Matt] Lehman, who was the interim House Public Policy [Committee] chairman, who took the time to understand our issue and supported our efforts for small business growth.”

The company also contacted its representative, Phillip GiaQuinta.

“Rep. GiaQuinta did an amazing job of supporting our efforts all the way through the session,” Pence said. “I will always remember a three-way phone call with myself, my partner Steve and Rep. GiaQuinta on Easter weekend. We will look back on that as a life-changing moment in the history of our business.”

Pence and Blevins also spoke to Rep. Ben Smaltz, who took over as the chair of the House public policy committee.

Smaltz later authored House Bill 1496, which reduced the wait time for craft distilleries from three years to 18 months, according to the press release.

“Today we get to announce a major expansion and thank those legislators who helped us make this dream a reality,” Pence said.

Three Rivers Distilling Co. distills a variety of spirits including vodka, bourbon, gin, rum and whisky.