published Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Chattanooga's New Year’s “Barrel Drop” canceled

Did Chattanooga Whiskey make the right choice to cancel it?

Chattanooga Whiskey has canceled its New Year’s Eve “Barrel Drop,” which would have been the city’s first-ever celebration in the vein of New York’s Ball Drop or Atlanta’s Peach Drop.

The event was initially delayed when the Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker board deferred its approval of the celebration, which was to have been held at Center Park, until nearby residents could be notified by letter about the New Year’s Eve party.

The giant event featured its own website at, a handful of live bands, food trucks, and, of course, plenty of beverages. It received such an overwhelming initial response that organizers moved it to the larger space at the 700 block of Market Street from its original venue at the High Point climbing wall. Organizers even courted a dozen corporate sponsors, including nearby hotels which offered room deals to attendees.

But before the beer board could reconvene, Chattanooga Whiskey sent an email to supporters saying the party did not fit in with the company’s core mission.

“We got to a place where our team started to realize our focus was not solely on our core mission: to bring whiskey back to Chattanooga. Furthermore, to bring whiskey to the people,” the email said.

Chattanooga Whiskey, which has thrown a number of successful parties in the run-up to building its distillery downtown, will no longer throw any such parties while it works on its new headquarters, an official said later. Proceeds from the event, like its other events, were to benefit the Stillhouse Foundation.

The email was signed by six members of the Chattanooga Whiskey team, including recently arrived Andrew Kean, who joined after leaving the top staff position under Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

A spokesman said the group “absolutely” didn’t cancel the event because of the beer board’s actions, and noted that Chattanooga Whiskey would still participate in The Tennessee Whiskey festival.

“We’re not going to focus on events, we’re going to focus on building this building,” said Joe Ledbetter, a company co-founder. “Because that’s the greatest event we can have.”

Read more in tomorrows’ Times Free Press.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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