City Council gives Chattanooga Whiskey the green light for distillery expansion

M.L. King facility could produce 14 barrels a day

Matt Rogers and Tim Piersant, CEO and co-founder of Chattanooga Whiskey Stillhouse, talk Aug. 17, 2015, at Chattanooga Whiskey Stillhouse.

To vote for this is to vote for job creation.

photo Drink samples made with Dr. Thacher's syrup are included in the tour at Chattanooga Whiskey Stillhouse.
photo Caleb Warren mixes a drink at Chattanooga Whiskey Stillhouse on Market Street.

Chattanooga Whiskey Co. has received the City Council's blessing to build a larger downtown distillery facility.

Plans call for the company to re-purpose the former Newton Chevrolet dealership site on West M.L. King Boulevard, where a 10,000-square-foot production space will make up to 14 barrels a day, each holding 53 gallons. The site will also include 2,000 square feet of office space, which will serve as company headquarters, and 4,000 square feet of future event space.

The current building can house more than 4,000 barrels of aging bourbon, according to Chattanooga Whiskey Co.

"To vote for this is to vote for job creation," Councilman Chris Anderson said before a recent 8-1 vote granting a special exceptions permit required for the company operate a distillery at the locale.

According to city documents, the permit allows the distillery to produce up to 1,000 barrels a month on-site, with each barrel holding 55 gallons.

Councilman Chip Henderson, who cast the only "no" vote, said after the meeting that his opposition came down to personal convictions.

"I've just never seen alcohol do anything but destroy a life," Henderson said.

He said, to the best of his knowledge, he has never approved any kind of alcohol-related permits while serving on the council.

Company founder and CEO Tim Piersant could not be reached for comment Friday.

The company's public relations department could not be reached to confirm current staffing numbers and expected job creation figures related to the proposed production facility.

"This additional location will provide us with the capacity to expand beyond our current three markets, building Chattanooga Whiskey into a more nationally recognized premium bourbon producer from Tennessee," Piersant previously told the Times Free Press.

In 2015, the company opened the Chattanooga Whiskey Stillhouse, a micro-distillery, tasting room and retail shop on Market Street. The 5,000-square-foot space offers tours showing how they make whiskey. The company says it operates the first legal distillery in Chattanooga in 100 years.

Chattanooga Whiskey has developed its own style of whiskey at the micro-distillery one barrel at a time. The company markets 1816 Whiskey brands.

In 2013, company co-founders pushed to overturn local and state laws banning Chattanooga whiskey production. The resulting state legislative bill hangs on the tasting room wall.

"The beginning of our distillery construction marks yet another milestone in our company's history," Grant McCracken, head distiller for Chattanooga Whiskey, said previously.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or Follow on Twitter @pleach_tfp.