Chattanooga Whiskey 111 (Tennessee High Malt)
The Craft Corner here at The Bourbon Finder is a fun, interesting, and (at times) downright weird segment. This is where some of the most unique and brilliant offerings show up and, if I’m honest, this particular quadrant of my website is where a lot of peaks and valleys exist–so when I hear about a small craft distillery in Chattanooga wheeling off true small batches (we’re talking 6-10 barrels in the entire batch) I get a little curious. When I see that they’re putting all of the information about the whiskey on the label and not hiding anything from the buyer I get a lot curious. I was lucky enough to have a friend send a bottle my way (cheers, Chad!) so it only seems right to give this thing a full review. Let’s go!
Chattanooga Whiskey is made in–you guessed it–Chattanooga, Tennessee. What you most likely wouldn’t guess, though, is that they were the first distillery to open their doors in Chattanooga in over a century. A hundred bloody years! These guys launched a “Vote Whiskey” campaign to pass legislation allowing distilling in more counties of Tennessee, and the community feedback was resounding. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is and getting it done!
Inspired by our city’s rich distilling history, Chattanooga Whiskey was founded in 2011 with a mission to bring back “Whiskey to the People.” Following the success of our community-powered Vote Whiskey campaign, we eventually became the first distillery in Chattanooga in over a century. In 2015, we began the patient process of crafting our malt-forward style of straight bourbon whiskey we call Tennessee High Malt. After 8 years in the making, our Tennessee High Malt was released in August 2019, marking a new era in our company history with a whiskey that celebrates the future as much as the history that got us here today.
Naturally Chattanooga Whiskey didn’t launch on day one with a pile of whiskey to sell, so they did the obvious (and usually wise) thing in sourcing some whiskey to create a product to generate revenue while their own distillate was aging. In August 2017 they launched the first of their own products, and two short years later they released what I’ll be reviewing today: Chattanooga 111, a cask strength unfiltered high malt bourbon. Let’s dig in!
Nose – Malty (obviously) but rich and dark. Cocoa and zesty citrus mixing with apple peel.
Taste – It’s a fruit whack-a-mole in a glass. Fruit blending together in a really interesting and fun way–each time I think it’s orange, some apple pops up, then back to orange. Plenty of rich caramel. Some oak structure backing it up too, and a handful of cocoa rounding things out.
Finish – I think it’s interesting how easily this sips. At cask strength I’d expect this to bring a pile of heat along with it, but there’s almost none. This is a rich and malty expression that carries notes of dark caramel chocolate and fruit right to the end.
Craft Corner Evaluation: Ready
I’m tempted to grade this outside of the Craft Corner simply because this product is so ready to sit on the shelf next to the macro producers that I wouldn’t feel bad running it through that grading system. I wont, because both the age and size of the distillery totally warrant a place in the Craft Corner, but I want to note that this should be on everyone’s radar.
This rates up there as high as any other craft product I’ve had this year, and I went so far as to mention it in the Weekly Whiskey “Best Whiskeys of 2020” episode. This is great whiskey and shows nothing but promise and potential from Chattanooga Whiskey.
Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!