Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask
I was first turned onto this Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask by a fellow blogger and friend, Mr. David Jones of TikiBar Online. He lives down in Chattanooga, TN and he first mentioned this whiskey. I went looking for it, but it wasn’t available anywhere in Nashville yet. So after a little bit of time I gave up on my journey and moved on to something else. Then a few weeks ago on one of my late night journeys around town to try and track down some Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace Antique Collection I stopped in at my neighborhood store Iroquois Wine & Spirits and talked to Art one of the sales staff there. He had me sample this Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask and I was blown away by it. So I immediately bought a bottle and I’ve been itching to find time to review it. Finally that time has come!
I did a little bit of digging around trying to find some info about this Chattanooga whiskey. Turns out, distilling in the county Chattanooga calls home is still illegal thanks to age old prohibition laws. So the boys at Chattanooga whiskey have been working diligently to get the law updated so that they can begin distilling in their home town. So that begs the question, where is this whiskey coming from right now? Well according to the TN Whiskey Trail, the guys have been very transparent with the whole process and they acknowledge that currently they are sourcing the whiskey from MPG/LDI right now. Their have to do this until they get the laws changed and move the distilling in house down in Chattanooga. This is typically the case for most whiskey start ups it seems. They have to source the whiskey until they are able to distill and age it themselves. I know Belle Meade bourbon is going through those same growing pains right now. None the less after sampling it at Iroquois I couldn’t wait to get my own bottle to bring home and try. So let’s hop into it!
First glance at the bottle and I’m immediately pulled in by the extra large 1816 on the label. The label has a nice matte black finish to it with a bit of shine in the background. Arched across the top of the label is the brand name Chattanooga Whiskey Co. Below that is the big and bold 1816. Below that in a dark red ribbon with the word “Cask”.
I’m a big fan of the bottle it’s a simple clean look that grabs your attention. I like the cork that encloses the whiskey from the outside world as well. The only problem is that I had to use a corkscrew to get it out. I feel that when drinking a whiskey I should be able to leave the corkscrew in the drawer. Just a minor inconvenience really, but figured it was worth mentioning to you fine folks.
The Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask has a deep rich red color to it. They describe it as golden to light amber on their website. Honestly it looks like a red rye to me more than anything. But the beauty is in the eye of the whiskey drinker I suppose. So we’ll call a spade a spade, or some other old saying that goes well here. However, if you see it person I think you’ll side with me and call it a deep reddish hue.
On the back of the bottle you’ll notice a nice little logo they have thrown in there, it’s CWC which stands for Chattanooga Whiskey Co. I really like it and I hope it starts to come to the forefront of their marketing materials and possibly their packaging. I think it’s unique and can really help set off their product from their competitors.
Well that’s probably more detail than you wanted to know about how this bottle looks. So let’s get to drankin’.
This Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask is coming out of the bottle at 113.6 proof. So it’s coming out pretty hot. I didn’t want to cut it though. After doing a preliminary tasting at the store I was comfortable drinking it neat so that’s how I wanted to review it. I even had the wife try it neat and she preferred it to her glass which she cut with ice. So there ya go. Drink it neat!
The first wave that I pick up is a dominant alcohol note. That strength just hits you in the face. Using my Glencairn glass I swirl it around and get my nose deep into the glass and I begin to pick up some interesting notes. I got a nice butterscotch and vanilla note. It was very pleasant once I pushed through that initial alcohol burn. Then on the backend of the notes I was able to pick up a more herbal note. Something akin to mint, possibly anise. Overall, it has a very strong sweetness to it with a bit of that rye spice that I’ve grown to like. Very pleasant overall.
According to the owners this has a mashbill of 21% rye, 75% corn, 4% barley. I’m glad they shared that with our friends over at Whiskey Nose because I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else online. This Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask is very palatable. In fact that’s the main reason I picked it up at the store. I was a little worried the cask strength might come off too strong, especially considering pairing it with a cigar. But after a couple of sips you realize that it’s incredibly easy to drink.
Personally, I like to see how the distiller describes the flavors that they pick up in their product and then compare to what I actually pick out. Unfortunately, the guys over at Chattanooga Whiskey Co didn’t go into too much detail on their site about the flavors this is what they have to say: Distinct rye spiciness with vanilla undertones of strong aged wood. So yeah, a few notes that they’ve picked out, but nothing that really sold me on it. So I’m gonna try and sell you on trying this whiskey.
First off, once this Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask hits your tongue you immediately pick up the vanilla notes. That classic whiskey / bourbon tone I’ve come to love and almost expect in all American whiskey. Secondly, yes you get the woody / oaky notes from being aged in a barrel. Again, both are the traditional notes that you would expect. However, the magic in this whiskey is how the spice and sweetness work and play so well with each other. Sometimes you expect them to be combative and one take over. The sweetness of the corn flows perfectly with the spiciness of the rye and they work in harmony with each other. Allowing each other to have their moment in the spot light. Initially you’re hit with that spice and then it slowly fades and in swoops the sweetness to make your mouth smile and salivate wanting more. There aren’t a ton of exotic flavors like dried mango or dehydrated bananas, just good ole fashioned whiskey. Have I sold you on it yet? Good, I thought I would.
Now to the finish! This Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask is great on the nose, great on the palate, but how does it finish? Well, I thought it finished pretty darn well. I go back and forth on whether I like a big long lingering finish or just a light crisp finish. It all depends on how the rest of the spirit reacts to my senses. I think this whiskey hits a nice sweet spot. It has a medium finish. Not too long, but full enough to make you remember it. Yet light enough to stay crisp and refreshing. It has a great mouth coating as well, and it will linger on the inner lining and then fade. Overall, I’m a huge fan.
Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Cask: 9/10
I’m giving this a 9 because it’s a damn fine whiskey overall. Something that I have really enjoyed and would gladly recommend to anyone else out there wanting to try something new. I’m hoping the boys at Chattanooga Whiskey Co. get their shop up and running soon so that we can see what else they’re capable of producing. But for now I’ll be more than contempt drinking their Cask strength. At less than $35 a bottle I would call it a steal!