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Chattanooga Founder's 12th Anniversary Blend Review—The Ever-Evolving Impact of Solera Barrel Blending


Chattanooga Whiskey 12th Anniversary Founder's Blend

I don't know about you, but I love the idea of starting as you intend to go. It's a powerful way to approach change in all aspects of life, and in my humble opinion, one important aspect of life is whiskey. I can think of one particular craft distillery where this mindset has been adopted almost seamlessly. By doing things in a different way in order to make a positive change, Chattanooga Whiskey pushed boundaries by challenging the laws in 2011, winning the right to distill whiskey in Chattanooga for the first time in over 100 years. With over 40,000 visitors per year to their Experimental Distillery, the only stand-alone experimental distillery to exist in the country since 2015, Chattanooga whiskey is making a strong case as the beating heart of spirits innovation as they continue to push boundaries in the craft whiskey category.


Chattanooga released its first Founder's Blend in 2022 to commemorate their 10th anniversary. Featuring a solera-style expression blended from three one-of-a-kind charred oak solera barrels, the blend showcases their 1816 MGP barrel (the past), their 91 signature barrel (the present), and their INFINITY barrel (the future). Founder Tim Piersant and the talented distillery team evaluate the whiskey in each solera barrel and trial "each blend to highlight the best of each recipe." According to chattanoogawhiskey.com,

After each year's blend is complete, the distilling team refills each tank with newly mature barrels, where they will quietly marry until the following year.

It's an innovative example of different styles and whiskey sources from Chattanooga and Lawrenceburg, IN, coming together in a boundary-pushing way only Chattanooga is known best for, and we whiskey enthusiasts have the opportunity to taste this fun. What a privilege we hold to explore such dynamic creativity. And the very reason craft whiskey producers deserve all the accolades and attention (when done right, of course), which is why I'm here, dear reader, typing this review. With only ten barrels of this blend, this one may be more difficult to find than previous releases.


Chattanooga Whiskey Founder's Blend

By the way! I have also bought and tasted the 10th and 11th anniversary (more on that below), but for now, let's dive into the latest Founder's Anniversary Blend.


 

Company on Label: Chattanooga Whiskey

Whiskey Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 12% 1816RES, 60% SB091, 28% INFINITY

Proof: 100°

Age: greater than 2 years

Further identification: The batch size was between 9 and 11 barrels and finished in three separate charred oak solera barrels; MSRP is around $60


 

Nose: Hello, chocolate! The malt on this nose is impossible to miss, like messy fingers from melted chocolate sauce dripping over a blackberry and cherry tart with one of those dense, thick crusts. Clove and cinnamon tingle my nose before that classic Chattanooga barrel funk comes waltzing in, a mustiness that reminds me of an old movie theater with worn carpeting and popcorn memories. Upon deeper inhales, I get a whisper of mint and the slightest hint of sweet, buttered mushrooms sautéing in a cast iron skillet. On that note, it's time for a sip!


Returning to the glass after a sip brings in graham crackers and an abundance of muddled cherry and blackberry. A subtle creaminess is present now, reminding me of a slightly warmed can of cream soda I would pack for a picnic lunch in a wavy field of summer grasses. Nearing the end of the glass, there is a slight astringency with a deep inhale, but nothing overtly off-putting. The empty glass smells of sourdough bread and damp barn hay.


Palate: Bursts of juicy cherry and blackberry, wow! A lovely velvet mouthfeel that regrettably falls off rather quickly and transforms into powdered chocolate, like Ovaltine being scooped into a glass, where puffs of chocolate swirl inside like a dust storm. A swish around my tongue brings in mint with a spicy ginger and subtle oak conclusion. The linger is reminiscent of an empty pie tin dotted with pastry crumbs and sticky blackberry compote. Subsequent sips offer lukewarm hot chocolate and a forgotten dish of vanilla ice cream with hints of orange zest. The mint and spicy finish remain consistent throughout, but I desire to experience the first sip again. The burst of flavors that danced across my tongue seemed to have lost their energy rather quickly. As I take my last sip, I wonder how this one would rank amongst the other two releases as I adjust the socks that were not blown off my feet.


TL;DR: A chatty sip full of flavor that falls quiet rather quickly


 

Rating: 3/5


Chattanooga Whiskey continues to weave its funky thread into the craft whiskey market with precision and care. The Founder's Blend releases exemplify their commitment to pushing boundaries. While this sip started with flavor bursts, I wished they had stuck around for a longer visit. What did stick around was my curiosity about how the other two releases would stack up against this one. The ranking, for those who are equally as curious, is below:


  1. 10th Anniversary Blend—a coalesced nose & palate filled with chocolate-covered caramels.

  2. 12th Anniversary Blend—a spicy fruit forward nose and palate with a short finish.

  3. 11th Anniversary Blend—similar to the 12th blend, softer nose with more mint & cinnamon. Perhaps it's simply a matter of personal preference, as my palate prefers rich dessert notes to brighter, fruity ones, but the 10th anniversary was a distinct standout. I also should note that the 10th blend has over a year of oxidation under its cork, so perhaps time works in favor of these funky, malted expressions. Like most everything in life, I suppose time will tell.


 
Jes Smyth - Pu
With what started as a genuine curiosity for the “water of life,” fiction writer and published author Jes Smyth has nurtured her enthusiasm for whiskey ever since. From learning the vast history of whiskey making to celebrating the passion of the industry, she tastes each sip with intention and purpose while expressing the intricacies of whiskey in a relatable and heartfelt way. She is thrilled to be a contributing writer for AmongstTheWhiskey.com and hopes her words will resonate with those ready to explore the beautiful world of whiskey.
 

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