Alan Bishop, “The Alchemist of Indiana,” is on the move in the spirits world. The news was previously announced by Alan in a video on his Instagram page (on April Fool’s Day, no less). The Indiana distillery has formally announced the departure and his successor on their Facebook page. The full text of the announcement is below:

It is with a heavy heart that Spirits of French Lick announces the departure of Head Distiller Alan Bishop. After building a successful winery for 21 years, the Dotys decided to branch out into distilled spirits in 2015. Alan Bishop has been an integral part of the team from day one. His enthusiasm for the craft, dedication to expanding his knowledge, and commitment to preserving the legacy of distillers from the Black Forest of Southern Indiana have helped him build a legacy of his own.

We are proud to have been part of his professional journey. We were new to owning a distillery. Alan was new to professional distilling and everything that comes with being a head distiller. We learned and grew together, and were excited to see what cool new stuff he does next.

Nicholas Doty, Owner and Head Winemaker of French Lick Winery and Spirits of French lick.
Alan’s back to basics approach to traditional double pot still distillation, coupled with his preference for alternative grains, as well as his story telling skills and irreverent attitude toward the industry helped shine a major spotlight on craft distilling and helped place Spirits of French Lick and the wider Southern Indiana distilling tradition on the radar of skeptics and spirits lovers alike. This includes several prestigious awards for the company’s bottled in bond and small batch whiskies and brandies.

Alan Bishop says: “Spirits of French Lick and the Doty family provided me an ample platform with which to bring the skills developed over a lifetime of distilling experience to the wider world and to tell the first part of a continuing story about the history and future of distilling in the Hoosier state. I was given the metaphorical wheel of the ship and allowed to sail it in the direction of authenticity and quality in regard to multiple spirit categories. Not just any ship mind you, but the largest pot still distillery in modern day Indiana. To say I am proud of my time there and the creative license I was given freely is an understatement and stands as a momentous pillar of my professional career. I always approached the opportunity from the position of the underdog and unlikely hero, the little distillery that could if you will and we tackled some pretty hefty and heady projects that in time caught favor with the right crowd. I am thankful to the many Hoosier distillers that came before, the Doty family, and all of the fantastic friends have worked with and met over those years.”

Spirits of French Lick and the Dotys wish Alan success on his new adventure, and look forward to future collaborations with him.

Justin Whaley, Assistant Distiller and Mentee, will take over as Head Distiller
Alan is a distiller by trade, a historian by nature, and an alchemist at heart, he brings to life processes and people that may have been forgotten. He brought something to life in me. Turning my interest into passion. Taking someone that knew the basics of distilling and teaching him the things he needed to not only be successful, but to carve his own path. I’m glad to call Alan my brother and truly wish him the best in his future endeavors, as I know he does in mine.

Taking over as head distiller means more than what I can put into words, but I’ll do my best: It means that I can continue making high quality spirits in the same place they’ve been made over the years, telling stories of people or places that may have been long forgotten. It means I can pay homage to distillers who came before me, and those before them. I am honored that faith has been placed in me to not only continue operations at Spirits of French Lick, but to also begin telling my stories. There will be no changes made to the products our supporters have come to love. But I do have a few surprises up my sleeve utilizing spirits that are already in the maturation process and ideas for new spirits and stories.

Justin Whaley

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