31 Mar Four Finger Distillery – So Many Changes That You Can’t Count Them on One of Their Hands
by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap
There’s a new distillery in Indy….. or at least there’s a name distillery name in Indy. 1205 Distillery has become Four Finger Distillery, and yes, there’s a story behind the name. I talked to co-owner Nolan Hudson about the change and the coming plans for Four Finger. He’s been holding back on everyone – they’ve got the rebrand, but they’ve also got more products, a new location, a bigger production house, a restaurant, and tons more marketing coming! Here’s what he and I talked about:
Indiana On Tap (IOT): What was the impetus for the name change and re-brand?
Nolan Hudson of Four Finger Distillery (FFD): We’ve been wanting to do this for a while and have been looking for the right opportunity. Sometimes a name change can portray struggling or necessity from the outside, but we figured it we timed it with the opening of our new location then that should wipe all those thoughts out. Throughout the last few years of doing events and tastings, we have had countless people come up to us and ask about our brand and then after hearing about us they’ll say something like “Oh you are that Four Finger place” so after hearing that a few hundred times, we knew it was the right move. Not only does that story hit close to home, but it’s a much more marketable name.
IOT: The main players at Four Finger are you and Brad Colver. Who else is involved (if any), what are your backgrounds, and who only has four fingers on one hand?
FFD: Brad Colver and myself are the main two. Brad is from Indiana and then moved to Colorado for college. While there he started working with some distilleries to learn about distillation. After a few years of that we convinced him to move back home and open up 1205 Distillery. Before 1205 I did some brewery sales and then after college moved to Dallas for work and then moved back home to open up 1205. And by the way, it’s Brad with the four fingers.
IOT: It’s a good story to tell (four fingers), so will you tell it to everyone – will it get old?
FFD: Telling the same story 10,000 times will always get old, but this story is so close to our hearts that we feel like it will always stay a little fresh and always have strong meaning. The 1205 name was great, but we discovered that too many times people got the numbers wrong and that story is also one that doesn’t have direct meaning to us. The Four Finger story has direct meaning with a life altering outcome.
IOT: So, just what is the story of Four Finger, just so you won’t have to tell the story quite so often?
FFD: While we were building our first location in Indianapolis, Brad was cutting a little piece of wood for a door and the wood slipped as he was lowering the saw. His hand shot into the saw and he cut his pinky off and cut through almost every bone and tendon in the back of his hand.
IOT: Is the name just a rename, or a total re-brand?
FFD: This is a total re-brand. It will take some time to get everything done, but eventually 1205 will be a thing of the past. Our signage, billboards, tents, bottles, stickers, and shirts will all be Four Finger in the near future.
IOT: Four Finger was a line of products, how do switch that now so that everything is Four Finger?
FFD: Having the Four Finger line was a strategic move that we started about a year ago. We knew we wanted to change the name and we already had Four Finger Rye Whiskey. So we decided to amp that up a bit and make all of our Whiskeys the Four Finger series. This was the start of getting customers to become comfortable and recognize the Four Finger name. All of our other spirits will employ the same label design, but with minor graphic tweaks.
IOT: Tell me about your products and what you’re really living right now – for me it’s definitely the peated bourbon.
FFD: We have our staple products of Artisan Vodka, New American Gin, Rhubarb Liqueur, Rye Whiskey, Wheat Whiskey, and Bourbon. In April our Coffee Liqueur and Bottled Old Fashioned will be hitting the shelves. I’m really excited for the Coffee and Old Fashioned. We’ve been tasting people on those for the last few months and I believe that they will quickly become our biggest sellers. The Coffee Liqueur is made with Calvin Fletcher’s decaf cold brew and then sweetened with local maple syrup.
IOT: Did you hire a company to help you (Pivot, CODO, Boldthink, The Flatland) with the rebrand? Although I’d think the name had to come from you.
FFD: We consulted with a few marketing companies to make sure that we were doing the right thing and to guide us on the process of the actual change. We reached out to a few local graphic designers and had them work up some mock up logos and then we picked the one we liked the best and ran with it.
IOT: What’s next with the re-brand and the growth of the company?
FFD: What’s next for Four Finger Distillery is a very exciting question for us. We have kind of held back on marketing for the last 3-6 months because we knew that name change was coming. So now that we are officially Four Finger Distillery you will see way more of us. We have billboards that will be popping up throughout Indiana.
IOT: Tell me about the coming Lebanon location of Four Finger Distillery?
FFD: We have our new 15,000 square foot distillery, tasting room, and restaurant opening up in Lebanon this Summer that will not only add to our tasting rooms, but will also increase production by about 500%. This will allow us to release new products and age our whiskey even longer.
We are shooting for a July opening in Lebanon. It will be family-friendly with a full kitchen. We haven’t signed the contract with who will be running our kitchen yet so I don’t want to prematurely release the name, but they will be serving delicious street tacos. We are cutting a hole in the floor that leads to the basement where our distilling equipment will be so that people can watch us distill and see our equipment. Our new still is tall enough that about five or six feet of it will be coming through the hole in the floor. The new still will allow us to increase our distilling capacity by about 500% and with that, we will be able to age our whiskey much longer. The future looks very bright for Four Finger Distillery and we are so excited to see where it takes us!