“Catch Single Barrel” Distillery Exclusive Release
When Chattanooga’s first release of their own distillate dropped, I was hooked. I’m a big fan of single and straight malt whiskies and their high malt content bottles just felt right at home for my tastes. Their 111 is a bottle I keep on the shelf now and have shared with many friends, converting them into fans themselves.
This experimental single barrel release caught my eye and thankfully I was fortunate enough to grab a bottle. I loved their previous straight malt releases and this one was another I wanted to try and share with others. A tad leery of the “infinity barrel” description but I went into this with an optimistic mind.
Additional details of barrel #204 from Chattanooga’s Website:
This unique single barrel – known to our distillers as a “catch single barrel” – contains malt whiskey from multiple recipes and distillation runs. Over the course of 10 months, each recipe’s distillate topped up the barrel and reset the age. Once completely full, the whiskey was aged for over 4 years in a heavily toasted and charred barrel, before bottling.
Distillery: Chattanooga Whiskey.
Region: Chattanooga, Tennessee, US.
Age: 4 Years.
Cask type: New charred oak. (3 char, + toast profile “47″)
Color: 1.7, Burnt Umber. Natural Color. Minimal filtration.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn glass with 10+ minutes of rest. A small amount of dilution was added with an additional rest of about half an hour.
Nose: On the first pour, you get youthful cereals and ethanol. Like a honey nut cheerio infused single grain. Odd sorts of aromas present poorly and after rest, the whiskey starts to open up. Almonds, pecans, pie crust. Tinned fundraiser popcorn like an artificially sweet caramel corn. Moving past the harsher alcohol notes, you’ll find a nice spiced mulled wine aroma. Clove, cinnamon, and dried ginger. Estery and fermented. There’s a deeper richness hiding behind and water slightly coaxes out some earthy tobacco and barrel char. With even a bit more time after diluting I get an orange zest note like a flamed expressed oil in an old fashioned.
Palate: The profile on the palate is a hodgepodge of flavors. Spiced rye notes and sweet barrel character. Dry tannic malt whiskey with some light pear and wine fruits. Quirky and honestly, not the best I’ve had from Chattanooga. Cereal grains and distinct molasses cookies. Depending on where this whiskey lands on your palate you can get everything from sweet honey-glazed southern-style biscuits to cinnamon challenge heat and spice.
Finish: A finish reminiscent of a dry white wine or mead. The toasted oak comes through on the finish with some grilled peaches and white tea flavors. Light-bodied. Dried tobacco notes linger around for a while with a sprinkle of brown sugar or raw demerara. You get that musty molasses character a bit on the back end. The finish also feels a bit chaotic with a rye character dominating one sip and a more malted cereals flavor on a subsequent sip. The back and forth is more jarring than it is interesting.
Flashes of brilliance but ultimately just an eccentric single-barrel experiment. Every sip is really unique but being interesting doesn’t mean it’s a great whiskey. I’m having fun and by no means do I feel like the bottle wasn’t worth the price, it’s just not an experiment that’ll graduate to a core range product like 91 or the 99 rye.
I was wishing for more of their excellent straight malts but felt this was just an average infinity barrel project. I truly believe that their experimental straight malts were their best product to date. I’m certain they will find a profile that fits their brand and I’m all set for when that happens.
Final Score: 84