Ironclad Distillery in Newport News attracts money through new investing platform

Ironclad Distillery in downtown Newport News successfully raised its maximum goal of $450,008 from 599 investors in an online equity crowdfunding campaign that ended Monday.

“It’s awesome,” Ironclad creative director Kara King said. “We have a lot of thank you notes to write.”

The raised capital will go toward building out the craft distillery’s tasting room and lounge by the end of the year in addition to adding equipment to expand its production capacity eight-fold, King said. Ironclad is in the 104-year-old building at 124 23rd St.

Ironclad is opening an on-site distillery store soon where folks can buy bottles of bourbon, including limited releases, in addition to sampling the product, King said. She said folks can look for updates and store hours on its website or Facebook page in early September, which is also National Bourbon Heritage Month and Virginia Spirits Month.

Ironclad Distillery, which was founded by the King family in 2014, announced launching the equity crowdfunding campaign in July using a registered funding portal called First Democracy VC, which is a partnership between Indiegogo and MicroVentures. While President Stephen King, Kara King and head distiller Owen King will retain majority ownership and control, the new investors will get a small stake in the company in addition to various perks based on the level of investment.

The Ironclad deal is one of the platform’s first 20 deals and one of a handful so far that reached a maximum goal, said Michael Hughes, senior director of equity crowdfunding at Indiegogo. First Democracy VC has seen success with distilleries and is excited to continue in that space, he said.

“They have these really passionate communities of people who love their brand, their product, etc., and really want to be a part of it,” Hughes said. “Equity crowdfunding is a way to get them truly involved.”

Newport News-born-and-raised Mark Bunn, who lives in Huntington Heights, said he has been a fan of Ironclad since it started bourbon production two years ago.

“I just thought it was a great thing for the downtown area revitalization, great for the city of Newport News and just great for that neighborhood,” Bunn said.

He shares Ironclad’s social media updates and believes he is one of the first customers to buy the Ironclad bourbon from the Virginia ABC store last year. He laminated his receipt and is preserving his bottle from the first handcrafted, small batch.

When the equity crowdfunding campaign launched, Bunn said he made sure to be one of the investors and hopes to visit the tasting room regularly.

“I thought it was ingenious,” Bunn said.

The funding gives Ironclad the tools to move toward its vision of being a nationally distributed brand, said Owen King.

Ironclad is releasing its straight bourbon, aged at least two years, in 2018 and is planning a bourbon cocktail product in the future, Kara King said. There’s plenty of room to grow in the 30,000-square-foot building and the Kings plan on getting feedback from investors, she added.

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Bozick can be reached by phone at 757-247-4741. Sign up for a free weekday business news email at or follow @TidewaterBiz.

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