Latest and Greatest

Chattanooga Whiskey, Whiskey to the People

Our good friend George McDaniel stops by for a visit with a bottle of 1925 Prohibition era Gooderham and Worts Whiskey which he himself, diver extraordinaire, pulled out of the Niagara River in the mid eighties. Get a little history on one of the biggest distilleries in the world at that time.  How people made fortunes “rumrunning” across the great lakes.  How George happened to find it and recounts his whiskey run story.  Thank you George for this once in a lifetime experiences!

For the news this month we figure that we’d give you the low down on Chatt Whiskey. First off, they are the first distillery in Chattanooga in over 100 years!  So what we are dealing with here is Tennessee High Malt, 75% yellow corn, the rest is Malted Rye, Caramel Malted Barley, and Honey Malted Barley then aged for 2 years.  Same mash bill for the 91 and 111, single fermentation with 4 barrels at #3 char and toast and 4 barrels with a #4 char and then mix them together.  The big difference, is that the 91 goes into a 4000 gallon solera barrel that has a #1 char to it.  They are a whiskey from Tennessee but not a “Tennessee Whiskey”  the difference is no charcoal filtering.

Plus they have an experimental distillery(the only one in the states to our knowledge) where other distilleries play with 20-30 malts or barleys a year, not Chattanooga.  They play with over 100!  With this experimental distillery they can try things out and make small runs and see how they turn out.  For instance they came out with a maple bourbon and a mead flavored bourbon(no, we didn’t get to try those).  The drawback, these can only be found at their distillery.  If you make drive, take their distillery tour.  I did and it was awesome!  Lots of great information, see their aging cellar and at the end enjoy a flight of what they got and maybe a bourbon forward drink to.  Thanks again to Chris Helmly the Florida State Sales Manager from Chatt Whiskey for taking the time to talk whiskey!  Check out all three videos below.

check them out here: chattanoogawhiskey.com

Prohibition 1925 Gooderham and Worts Whiskey

Our good friend George McDaniel stops by for a visit with a bottle of 1925 Prohibition era Gooderham and Worts Whiskey which he himself, diver extraordinaire, pulled out of the Niagara River in the mid eighties. Get a little history on one of the biggest distilleries in the world at that time.  How people made fortunes “rumrunning” across the great lakes.  How George happened to find it and recounts his whiskey run story.  Thank you George for this once in a lifetime experiences!

What is Straight Whiskey

Ever wonder why it says Straight Whiskey on your bottle? We did so we did some searching. It started with the passing of the 1906 Food and Drug Act

The rules: 1. Has to be a distillation of fermented cereal grains(ex: wheat,millet, rice, corn, barley, oats, and rye). Grains and not molasses because molasses is the base for rum. 2. Once distilled in cannot be above 80% abv(alcohol by volume) and must be 62.5% or lower before barreling. 3. Only water may be added to dilute it any further. 4. Has to aged in charred oak barrels. 5. Aged a minimum of 2 years to be considered Straight, preferably 4 years and if blended with 2 and 4 year the youngest has to be on the label.

The only modification before bottling that is allowed is batching whiskey from different barrels(sometimes different distilleries but they have to be from the same state). Chill filtering and adding water to reduce the proof but not below 40% ABV(alcohol by volume).

The horrible unsanitary conditions in manufacturing plants is the reason it came about. Also because of inferior products, fraudulent labels and imitation whiskeys.

In December of 1909, President Howard Taft announced the results of his hearings with the “Taft Decision” that formally defined the types of whiskey still present today. Taft said that for a whiskey to be called “straight,” water was the only thing that could be added. If anything other than water was added to the whiskey, it had to be called a “Blended” whiskey.

What made this interesting is that people called rectifiers (not all were bad) would purchase whiskey in bulk and then dilute it, mix it with other spirits like vodka and gin or for flavoring and coloring iodine, tobacco, caramelized sugar, prune juice and licorice were used. Whatever it took to make people believe it was whiskey.

They didn’t make the mistake like they did with bottle in bond where it wasn’t well publicised and when it came out people didn’t know what it meant. This time, when the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed they got busy marketing Straight Whiskey. It was a badge of honor and you knew you were getting a quality product.

In 1933 when prohibition was repealed. Distilling started up once again and in Kentucky they had learned a valuable lesson with prohibition. Hoping to keep the government from making even tougher regulations, the industry created rules and regulations that were self-monitoring. These rules included the regulations from the Taft Decision defining whiskey, but went further, limiting the way whiskey could be packaged and sold. Barrels were no longer a legal package for the open market, replaced by bottles as the only legal package for distilled spirits sold to the public. The use of bottles meant that brand names and labels became a very important part of the industry.

Whiskey Barrel Shortage

A surge in the demand for bourbon has led to a shortage in whiskey barrels. Exports of bourbon were in excess of 1 billion, that’s right with a “B” billion in 2014. Bourbon production has increased more than 50% from 2010 to 2013. In three years the craft-distilling companies have doubled to about 600 distillers.

The housing market crash of 2007 led to a number of lumber mills closing, they rebounded in 2014 but the supply of white oak has not caught up with the demand for barrel makers (Coopers). High timber prices, the lack of loggers have added to the problem. There is no quick fix for the bourbon industry’s supply problem. Since the bourbon has to be aged, the available supply is whatever was put in oak barrels 10 years ago when demand was lower. Distillers want to put more into barrels now but the barrels remain hard to get.

At a craft spirit conference where there was a presentation on staves(the wooden strips that make up the side of the barrels) and bungs(the plug for the bung hole) and the room was overflowing. Not for the lecture but the hopes of where to find barrels. The shortage is currently getting better and with the current tariffs could help close that gap.

Remembering Dave Pickerell

He was nicknamed the “Johnny Appleseed of whiskey” from all his consulting work, direction in experimentation not only in the industry but also in his own work.  He explored the concept of terroir in American whiskey and barrel finishing.  Terroir is the set of all environmental factors that can affect a crop’s traits.  Also creating the first solera-aged whiskey which is process of aging liquids by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over time.  He has literally been all over the US from his 14 stint at Maker’s Mark where he was the vice president of operations and master distiller to be called upon to start a little whiskey company called Whistle Pig.  In Ancram, New York directed operations and production plus master distiller of Hillrock Estate Distillery. 

Not to mention being one of the master distillers to re-create George Washington’s recently found recipe for rye whiskey.  Unfortunately Dave Pickerell passed last year on November 1st in San Francisco at 62 years young.  It all started when he graduated from the University of Louisville as as a chemical engineer then on to working for a firm building distilleries, then working at one and becoming a master distiller. 

His last major project was for a little know band called Metallica to produce their blended straight whiskey Blackened.  To set this one apart, not only did he let it age in brandy barrels but also use sound waves to agitate and anger the spirit harnessed in those barrels.  Each barrel was blasted with each members very own playlist giving each one it’s own signature. The best thing besides the label on the bottle is says “remastered by Dave Pickerell”.  He has done so much and taught so many that is indelible mark will be missed.

Events/Festivals

Chili Cook Off and Whiskey Tasting

The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride

The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride combines classic and vintage style motorcycle riders all over the world to not only come together for a great cause but also look good doing it. This event was inspired by Don Draper from the TV show Mad Men and Mark Hawwa from Sydney, Australia decided it would be a great way to get bike enthusiasts together and ride. It then turned into something more as it was decided to focus on men’s health and raise money in support. It started in 2012 with 3 thousand riders in 64 cities, the next year 11 thousand riders in 145 cities raising 277,000 dollars. Last year it has now grown into 114 thousand riders in 648 cities in 102 countries raising 6.2 million dollars! In support of men’s health ride with me and register www.gentlemansride.com if you can’t ride and would still like to donate click here: https://www.gentlemansride.com/fundraiser/WhiskeyKaptain

Whiskey Wine and Wildlife

Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife artfully combines renowned beverage tastings and inspired cuisine from some of the South’s best chefs and local culinary superstars, with a chance to experience coastal wildlife up-close, all in one weekend! The weekend’s events will raise funds and awareness for programs of the Jekyll Island Foundation, with the island’s research and education experts on-hand Friday and Saturday, showcasing some fun, interactive programs with coastal wildlife, from sea turtles to alligators!