Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Chattanooga Whiskey Co.
Distillery: Chattanooga Riverfront Distillery
Release Date: June 2021
Mashbill: Blend of four bourbon mashbills all distilled during Spring 2017, and each comprised of at least 25% specialty malted grains
-17% B001: Yellow Corn, Rye Malt, Caramel Rye Malt, Honey Malt
-17% B004: Yellow Corn, Peated Malted Barley, Naked Malted Oats, Honey Malted Barley
-33% B005: Yellow Corn, Malted Wheat, Caramel Malted Wheat, Oak Smoked Malted Wheat
-33% SB055: Yellow Corn, Malted Rye, Double Roasted Caramel Malted Barley, Pale Chocolate Malted Barley
Color: Deep Copper
Price: $50 (2021)
This is the first release in a new permanent addition to the Chattanooga Whiskey Family of Brands. A collaborative effort between all of the company’s distillers, the inaugural edition was crafted from a blend of four different bourbon mashbills all barreled from January - June of 2017, which is what is referred to as the spring distilling season (the fall distilling season running from July - December). Each of the four bourbon mashbills was first created as one of their Experimental recipes, and then chosen by Chattanooga’s distilling team and scaled up at their Riverfront Distillery in order to become part of an official release.
To be labeled Bottled in Bond, the whiskey must be the product of one distillation season and one distiller at a single distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years, and it must be bottled at exactly 100 proof. Additionally, the Bottled in Bond label must clearly identify the distillery where it was distilled and where it was bottled, if different.
The bottle in review is from Batch Number 21F17R5.
A waft of malted grains is highlighted by dark cherry and raisins. Aromas of butterscotch and toffee mingle in, providing some additional depth. The initial malted grain note remains present throughout, ultimately forming a base for the other scents and stands out as the more prominent and unique attribute. A bit unfamiliar in an enjoyable kind of way, the nose is complex and inviting.
Honey, butterscotch, and raisins are delivered with a warming spice note that is punctuated with a dash of chocolate. Medium-bodied yet still rich, the flavors meld together overtop a light malty note that carries over from the nose. While none of the individual components is particularly unusual, combined they form an overall combination that's layered, thought provoking, and characteristically Chattanooga Whiskey, through and through.
A swell of allspice pulls forward, overtaking the sweeter notes from the palate and giving a reminder of the proof. As it dissipates, more traditional caramel and seasoned oak come forward, transitioning to a dry mouthfeel. The malty characteristic remains present but fleeting, as the medium-length and enjoyable finish draws to a close.
With hundreds or even thousands of distilleries and whiskey producers vying for consumers’ attention, every brand is trying to stand out. Some succeed for the right reasons, and others just get lucky. And despite the craft distilling movement in the United States, craft whiskey has not won over the hearts of consumers like craft beer has. As more craft whiskey is coming of age, Bottled in Bond releases from craft distilleries have also become increasingly popular, a trend I fully support but one that makes standing out that much more challenging.
Chattanooga Whiskey is a craft whiskey distillery that stands out, and for the right reasons. Their products all resonate both quality and uniqueness, from unique mashbills to experimental finishes, Chattanooga Whiskey has become a distillery to take note of.
Just like other Chattanooga Whiskey products, Bottled in Bond offers a unique flavor profile that is definitively “Chattanooga,” but still offers a unique twist on the bourbons released before it. Compared to Chattanooga Whiskey 111 Cask, Bottled in Bond is more refined but less punchy. And compared to Chattanooga Whiskey 91, Bottled in Bond is more complex and developed.
In fact, Bottled in Bond takes a unique spin on the concept of blending, combining four unique bourbon mashbills into one in an effort to create an expression not possible from any one of the component bourbons. Tasting each of the component bourbons separately, each one offers a wildly different flavor profile. This is especially true of B004 which includes peated malted barley and naked malted oats in its mashbill as well as SB055 which serves up a chocolate note. And despite the wildly different flavors of component bourbons, the end result brings everything back together finding balance and complexity.
Well thought out bottle designs suggest a high quality product might be lurking underneath, though all too often this leads to disappointment. Chattanooga Whiskey offers one of the more well-done bottle designs in the industry, and it feels that way when you really study it from the raised glass “MADE IN CHATTANOOGA TENNESSEE” to the slight glimmer of the label, exposed natural cork, and plenty of technical details.
Thankfully, the bourbon within the bottle backs it up.
Priced at $50, Chattanooga Bottled in Bond would have been considered premium territory not so long ago. However, as bourbon prices continue to rise, especially new entrants into the marketplace, $50 might as well be the new norm for what's considered reasonably affordable. It’s also priced in the range of many other craft whiskeys, of which many are not aged for nearly as long and still require a bit of “support for the brand” to justify a purchase. Chattanooga Bottled in Bond requires no such sacrifice, instead competing with large Kentucky distilleries not in age per se, but in overall quality at a similar price point. Factor in the more careful curation of this product by head distiller Grant McCracken and the team of distillers at Chattanooga Whiskey Co., and what you get in return is more than worth it for the price.
Chattanooga Whiskey Co. impresses again with the introduction of a Bottled in Bond bourbon that combines a wide range of recipes into a well-balanced end result.
Chattanooga Whiskey Co. has proven time and time again that they are a distillery capable of producing quality whiskey that is uniquely their own. As the company starts to enter a higher age band, it’s exciting to see complex blends like this inaugural release of Bottled in Bond come together. More time aging may certainly bring some heavier oak or caramel notes, and different mashbills or blend percentages could certainly add more of a wow factor, but that’s not to say this product doesn’t feel complete exactly as it is right now. In fact, it's head and shoulders above most craft whiskeys, competing in quality with the Kentucky majors. As the distillery continues to experiment with different mashbills, blends, barrel finishes, and countless other variables, I’m now even more excited to see what Chattanooga does next.