Chattanooga Whiskey has finally come to Central Louisiana and I was able to pick up a bottle at Hokus Pokus last Saturday. I have been wanting to try this bourbon, given the high malt recipe which includes malted rye, malted caramel barley, and malted honey barley. This distillery had to fight its way into existence; after prohibition ended, whiskey production in Tennessee was only allowed in three counties, and Hamilton county wasn’t one of them. The owners of the distillery had to get their state legislature, in cooperation with local government officials, to pass laws to even allow the distillery to get off the ground. Originally they were sourcing bourbon from MGP but now they are bottling their own whiskey – a bourbon and a rye. I bought the cask strength 111 bourbon to try.
With a mashbill of 25% malt, including malted rye, this will be an interesting bourbon. Sugarfield Spirit’s high malted barley mashbill sourced from MGP is probably the only bourbon I have had that has more malt. The high malt content will contribute some nice flavors, and, more importantly, when they pitched the yeast into this mashbill the enzymes from the malted (germinated) grains will allow the yeast to have one serious alcohol making party with the sugars released from the grains. All that is to say is that the beer before distillation likely had a higher alcohol content than most American whiskies.
This whiskey is two years old and bottled at 111 proof. For being only two years old or so, the color is a nice solid amber; you would never confuse this with scotch like some younger bourbons. The swirl has a thin film with mostly thin legs, although there are occasionally some thicker ones. On the nose is wonderful caramel and toffee goodness; along with some dark fruits. The first time I nosed this my mouth started watering. On the palate, there is a medium full (like a medium rare steak) mouthfeel, with rich flavors of raisins and other dark fruits, dark caramel, Heath bar toffee, and roasted hazelnuts, and the fruits meet up with cinnamon and nutmeg on the finish, which is pretty long. No craft bitterness whatsoever.
I am blown away with a bourbon of this quality and flavor after only two years of aging. It’s amazing. They must know what they are doing at Chattanooga Whiskey Company, or else they are really lucky. Maybe their unique mashbill has a way of interacting with the barrel at some sort of accelerated rate without craft bitterness. Maybe the slightly warmer but mountainous climate of East Tennessee does something really special to bourbon. Maybe it is both. But this is labelled as straight bourbon, so they didn’t do anything funky to achieve this great result.
At $45, this bourbon for me is a no brainer as far as whether I will buy another bottle. I just hope Hokus Pokus can keep it in stock.