What’s in a name? Does it matter – if you enjoy sipping a brown liquor drink – whether it’s a “whiskey” or a “bourbon?” Before our friends in Kentucky fill our inbox with anger, let it be known: we love a lot of whiskeys and we also appreciate what makes a bourbon, a “Bourbon.”


Plus, with National Bourbon Day coming up on June 14, it’s the perfect time to talk about the great variety of whiskeys and bourbons available in Hamilton County – and a unique Peyton Manning connection to one of Hamilton County’s great taverns.  


To be a bourbon, the brown liquor must follow a strict set of guidelines in terms of grain content, it must be aged at least two years in new, charred white oak barrels, and there are a host of alcohol content rules for each stage of the process. Lastly, nothing can be added to change or enhance the flavor. And it must be made in America.


It's true that all bourbons are whiskeys and not every whiskey can be a bourbon; however … and again, with total respect to our friends south of the Ohio River … a whiskey doesn’t have to be a bourbon to rank among the finest brown liquors.


As spirits have surged in popularity the last five years, Hamilton County’s local craft distillers have grown from a handful to almost double-digits, and new players are about to change the way we define “local.”


Set up your own “Hamilton County Bourbon & Whiskey Trail” with our guide to local distillers.


You’ll find a variety of original spirits at The Broken Barrel lounge, with three locations: Carmel, on Fishers on Geist Reservoir  and Noblesville on Morse Reservoir.


Indy institution St. Elmo Steakhouse serves up St. Elmo Whiskey and others at its 1933 Lounge in the Fishers District, and if you’d like to savor a cocktail at the location Indianapolis Colts legend Peyton Manning launched his Sweetens Cove bourbon, head to The HC Tavern + Kitchen.


West Fork Whiskey in Westfield is the newest distillery. The distiller will grow corn and other ingredients on-property – as local as it gets! Dine at The Mash House and sip craft cocktails in the Stave Lounge.

So, sip, savor and raise a toast to a bright future for Hamilton County’s distillers!