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Chattanooga Fall 2019 Bottled in Bond Bourbon: A Collaborative Review with Author Jes Smyth

Chattanooga Bottled in Bond Bourbon Fall 2019 Vintage

Chattanooga, a name synonymous with craft, has been curating interesting whiskies since 2011 when Tim Piersant decided it was time to bring "Whiskey to the People". Fellow long-winded whiskey writer Jes Smyth seems to share in that mission, as she has continued to share really interesting craft distilleries with the broader whiskey community. It is into her bottle of Chattanooga bottled in bond, the fall 2019 vintage, which we will be diving into today. Jes will also be joining me for another installment of a collaboration review - one in which the notes of both writers are sprinkled in throughout. I'd like to thank her for sharing a sample for the purpose of today's review as well as for her exceptional photography skills on display here.

Chattanooga Bottled in Bond Bourbon Fall 2019 Vintage

Exploring the depth of a brand which values experimentation can be extremely rewarding. Where the big players can lean in on a recipe handed down for hundreds of years, new distillers often have something to prove. It's for this reason the Chattanooga brand has so much depth. Two distillery locations and just about all the custom distilling equipment the world has to offer means head distiller Tiana Saul has a lot of levers to pull. With 15 distillery employees on her team, it is no surprise that the brand has continued to innovate in the whiskey world. From the standard—which is anything but standard—to the spectacular, you can find unique grains, solera blending, infusions, barrel finishes, and malt experiments that have defined a category of their own. This kind of profundity only happens when distillers are willing to take risks for the sake of quality over quantity. While this might mean that some releases aren't meant for everyone, I for one am glad to see some waver as compared to the consistent column still throughput that has become all too common.

To be considered a bottled in bond bourbon, all the barrels that went into the blend have to have been filled in a single distilling season. The fall 2019 vintage calls out the season during which the barrels were filled with new-make distillate. For bottled in bond designation purposes, there are only two distilling seasons: spring runs from January through June, and fall is comprised of July through December. The Chattanooga team blended a wide selection of bourbon mash bills, each comprised of at least 25% specialty malted grains, a nod to their Tennessee high malt style we mentioned before. Chattanooga calls this result "an innovative approach to one of our industry’s most time-honored quality standards - showcasing depth and complexity that is greater than the sum of its parts." We hope the same is true of this collaborative review!

Jes Smyth, self-published author of several books including the recently released Dream for a Second
Jes Smyth: well-caffeinated and ready to write

Jes, well known in the whiskey community as @gigglesnsips, is also the self-published author of two books, including the recently released Dream for a Second. Her writing skills clearly carry over well to the whiskey world for those patient enough to explore her carefully crafted captions she posts on Instagram. Jes' notes will be interspersed throughout this review in the color of her sweater above. In an effort to better serve the colorblind, I've also decided to italicize her words throughout. Now let's dive in and explore another craft whiskey to see if this is a release you want on your shelf!


Company on Label: Chattanooga Whiskey

Whiskey Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 46% SB091 + toast, 18% SB091, 9% B005 + toast, 9% B005, 9% SB055 + toast, 9% SB055; (it's complicated...)

Proof: 100°

Age: 4 years

Further identification: This is the Fall 2019 Vintage which was released in September 2023 from a batch size of 10-12 barrels; it has since sold out, but was available for a time at an MSRP of $52.99


Nose: On first lifting the glass, I find elderflower, lemon snickerdoodle, and an earthy musk, like sun-warmed bark left out to decay. I'm reminded of the candy you find at the bottom of a forgotten Halloween pail. There's a smooshed tootsie roll, a partially opened box of strawberry nerds, and a few stray milk duds, all hanging out, wondering where you've been. It's bright, proofy, and bold, which leads to a little nose blindness. It takes a few turns of air to get deeper into the nose; there's a sharpness. As that comes to pass, I find unbelievably sweet candied tones, like sweet tarts and tart cherry gummies. It reminds me distinctly of some of the older bottlings of Michter's 10 year bourbon. Delicate rye spice swirls in the depths. The slightest hint of an over ripened banana drifts in, followed by whipped lemon custard pie with a buttery graham cracker crust. The earthiness continues late in the glass as wet clay tones sneak in. Oh my, the chocolate tones that just erupted due to a soft breeze coming across my glass—that's some wonderful, oily depth. Time for a taste!

Returning my nose and pulling out deep inhales shows off linen and crème brûlée. Creaminess resumes in a welcome wave. Absent is any sense of wariness. After my first sip, the nose is a buffet of chocolate desserts overflowing with chocolate pastry cream. As the glass nears its departure time, my minds eye conjures the sweet treat of an orange creamsicle being handed out of the ice cream truck window. This whole medley is lovely. The empty glass smells like a multitude of potpourri thrift shop finds; vintage clothing rack aromas, confectioners sugar, nutmeg, and pizza dough all dance in the nose.

Palate: Mmm! Strawberries and cream blast across the tip of the tongue before a sweet vanilla granola bar settles into perfect comfort. For Jes: silky strawberry sweetness and bursts of lemon. Another sip is a touch tingly and cool, like a bite of sugar-free orange sherbet off a wooden spoon. Creamy chocolate skirts across my tongue, like the chocolate frosting sometimes found on vanilla pound cake. This is a "don't spoil your dinner," but you're likely to anyway, kind of treat. My last sip is a sweet treat like non-synthetic, old-school nerds candy. The finish is short but sweet, with nothing to complain about as an unchewed vanilla tootsie roll mulls about the mouth. The finish is warm, with hints of spice and the slightest whiff of tobacco. A light breadiness and distinct chocolate note fills the rest of the space between the comfortable sweets. The combination offers a clear nod to Pirouline wafers. Overall, I found this to be quite enjoyable, like drifting away into a comfortable conversation with someone you cherish.

TL;DR: A sweet, approachable, welcoming whiskey from Chattanooga


Rating: 4/5

Altogether, this is an easy-going glass well suited for a warm day with a subtle breeze and swirling ladybugs plinking against cabin screens. Jes calls this "a pour I want to nestle in between summer and fall, or perhaps winter and spring, the in-between that returns as often as the change in seasons." Craft whiskey has been on a roll lately. Comparing this to my previous sip of Cedar Ridge bottled-in-bond rye, I'd give the nod to the Iowa distillery. While both pours are certainly in the same league, I am looking for a little more gumption to really be enamored with this dram. Nitpicking aside, this is a whiskey well worthy of praise for its sweet sipping craft character. Nicely done, Chatt.


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