Charles Florance: Inspirational Spirits

By Christine Cox | Fall 2014

Printer Friendly

It seems someone who enjoys jumping from helicopters and kicking down doors as an infantry captain would enjoy whiskey straight after its second distillation—when the alcohol content is 80 percent and strong enough to anesthetize the tongue.

Charles Florance (MBA ’13) calls it “absolutely divine.” And when his Indiana Whiskey Company dilutes this high-potency whiskey, the smooth, approachable spirit is equally divine.

The flavor is as unexpected as Florance’s story.

Yes, he was an infantryman for 12 years and expected a full army career. But in 2009, as he prepared to deploy to Iraq, Florance was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a nervous system disease. After 18 months recovering, he was medically retired. “I retained my strength, but I still experience persistent nerve pain in my legs and feet,” he says. 

During recovery, he joined the American Legion. “It was cathartic to share stories,” Florance says. “One night we said, ‘Why doesn’t Indiana have good small-batch whiskey?’”

The MBA pushed his idea forward. “Everyone here was supportive—the librarians, the professors, my classmates, the folks in the Gigot Center, my coaches for the McCloskey Business Plan Competition,” he says. “This company would not have happened without Notre Dame. I can’t emphasize that enough.”

Indiana Whiskey began production in February 2013 in South Bend. Many parts of the process have an Indiana source: the copper still, fermentation tanks, bottle labels and corn, wheat and barley. Barreled whiskey is on track for 2016, and unaged whiskey is distributed to 120 retailers.

It’s a sweet life. “Whiskey builds community,” Florance says. “Sharing drinks with friends means you’ve got friends around. We want to share that with our state.”


Related Items


  • Salt and Light10
    Salt & Light 1411
    Salt & Light: Passionate About Human Dignity 1461
    Salt & Light: There's Always Room in the Inn 1462
    Karen Hildebrandt: Quiet Hero 2612
    John Weber: The Importance of Being Turtles 2613
    Mike Mannor: New Hope for Down Syndrome 2614
    Maggie Neenan-Michel: Born to Run 2615
    Kristin Collett-Schmitt: To Honor Mackenzie 2616
    Jamie O'Brien: Cultivating Children 2626
    Karen Slaggert: Suffer the Little Children 2627
    More Salt & Light 2628
    Patti Reinhardt: Survivor's Tale 2629
  • Taking Stock - Personal Essays1
    Everyday Grace: On Stories 1444
  • Class Notes3
    Class Notes 1435
    Future Domers 2641
    In Memoriam 2642
  • Ask More of Business1
    Ask More: Grounds & Hounds 2636
  • Web Exclusive1
    Salt & Light: Passionate About Human Dignity 1461
    Salt & Light: There's Always Room in the Inn 1462
    "Shark Tank" Judge Visits Mendoza 1464
  • In Memoriam1
    In Memoriam 2642
  • Future Domers1
    Future Domers 2641
  • Mendoza News5
    A Meeting of Minds to Help the Poor 1340
    New Faculty Profile: Meet Charlice Hurst 1341
    A Matter of Trust 1352
    College News Briefs 1449
    Faculty News Briefs 2630
  • Mendoza Profiles2
    On and Off the Fence 1355
    A Poignant Journey 1373
  • Alumni Community4
    Class Notes 1435
    The Hessert Brothers: And They're Off 2547
    Kenn Ricci: Like Father, Like Son 2545
    Charles Florance: Inspirational Spirits 2546
  • First Person1
    Back to School 1443