Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Straight Malts

Beer recipe twists on American Malt

Chattanooga has quickly become one of my favorite distilleries. I love the high malt mash bill they use to bring an unusual flavor profile to their whiskey. Their 91 and 111 is now a staple on my shelf that I love to share with others.

In addition to their standard bottles, Chatt has created hundreds of different mash bill experiments they distill and age in their downtown Chattanooga location. Over 100 different barrels are aging with various different types of whiskey be it rye, bourbon or in this case straight malt whiskey. These 4 malt whiskies are made from 4 unique mash bills and inspired by 4 classic beer styles: German Rauchbier, Belgian style Abbey Ale, Oatmeal Stout, and Strong Scotch Ale.

All 4 were tasted independently from one another with slight resting prior to tasting. All were aged a minimum of 4 years in 53 gallon barrels with #4 char level plus toasting.

Barrel #157 – 60.4% – English Oatmeal Stout

Mash Bill: English Pale Malted Barley, Naked Malted Oats, Light Caramel Malted Barley, Amber Malted Barley, Double Roasted Caramel Malted Barley, Pale Chocolate Malted.

Immediately on the nose you get this yeasty bready note with a ton of malt behind it. There’s a toasty marshmallow fluff flavor with some cinnamon and nutmeg spice. As I let this sit a bit longer in the glass you really start to smell the beer influence. It’s almost like a cask aged ale with some of those oak notes coming out.

On the palate, the malt is a bit more distant than the nose lead you to believe. It’s not the same malt punch from a 8-12 year old scotch and shows it’s youthful flavors. It has this nice sweetness and the barrel char brings out some tobacco and a hint of chocolate. This tastes younger than 111 and shows more craft grainy vibes.

A nice dark chocolate bitterness hits so well on the finish. Slightly dry with some lingering sweet barley notes. Leather and buttery grits.

This will probably rank last out of these 4 malts. It’s unique and fun but certainly a worse expression than the others showcase. The longer you taste the more you realize it’s rather mediocre. Great to try and sip along with the other but not something I would buy again.

Barrel #155 – 60.8% – Belgian Style Abbey Ale

Mash Bill: Pale Malted Barley, Pale Malted Wheat, Pilsner Malted Barley, Light Munich Malted Barley, Extra Dark Caramel Malt

Notably different malt on the nose. A bit of fruit and honey. Grilled peaches with brown sugar and walnuts. Distinct wood ash note. Slightly chemical alcohols. Demerara and molasses cookies. Sourdough and a bit of citrus oils.

A nice bitter aperitif flavor on the palate. Can really tell the beer influence with this bottle. A nice sweetness bounces across your palate followed by the bitter herbal notes. Grass and tobacco with rich malty flavors of toasted and burnt bread. The bitterness is fighting the sweet notes a bit too much.

This is coffee and cream on the finish. Really well balanced with some sweet yeasty rolls. Tobacco follows through on the finish here as well. You’re left with a final long and low bitter taste like you would get from a beer.

This one really appeals to me as a whisky and amaro hybrid. Lots of bitter flavors that push the line of enjoyment to the brink. Delicate balance of age and mash on this one but I’d like to see this one get some more age and see how those flavors mature in a used cask.

Barrel #153 – 61.45% – German Rauchbier

Mash Bill: Beechwood Smoked Malted Barley, Pale Malted Barley, Munich Malted Barley, Caramel Munich Malted Barley, Chocolate Malted Spelt

A dark and roasty malt note fills your nose with earthy, coffee stout scents. Sweet and spice dram. Lots of bread and yeast but the alcohols seem very foreign. Figs, caramel, nutmeg, musty humidor. Almost lactic toffee pudding sweetness.

Very odd and unique flavor. So many similar stout flavors on the palate. Earthy and malty with a lot more proof showing through. Coffee, leather, and toasted malts. Young tasting but not immature. Cereal grains and very mild fruits – prunes/raisins like in a yeast roll. Some clove and cardamom reminds me Christmas bread flavors.

Crazy toasted malts on the finish. Graham crackers and marshmallows. An absolutely amazing finish. Bit of old tobacco and dark chocolate. A malted milkshake. Lots of sweet malted barley that dissipates into a more bitter finish, encouraging another sip. The best aspect of this bottle is undoubtedly the finish.

Not getting anything remotely reminiscent of craft distillery in this bottle. It’s fun, it’s incredibly unique and the flavors are just killer. The best of the lot and Chattanooga should be proud to put this out permanently. If you find a bottle, buy it!

Barrel #164 – 60.75% – Wee Heavy/Strong Scotch Ale

Mash Bill: Pale Malted Barley, Speyside Malted Barley, Peat Smoked Malted Barley, Maris Otter Caramel Malted Barley

The nose gives me an iodine and medicinal heavy peat scent. Really tricked me it was an Islay scotch initially if it didn’t have these more classic bourbon sweet notes. It’s honestly a bit off-putting with the sweet, almost buttery peat. Very odd to get accused to the smell. Walnuts, earth/dirt, leather, clove, artificial peach flavor and finally this unmistakable crayon scent. Weird.

I cannot describe this better than peated chocolate! Much more sweet than the majority of peated scotch I consume. A decent representation of peated whisky (Sorry New Riff that Backsetter bottle was not good). Proof here is much more noticeable and astringent. Odd sugars that I cannot quite place but artificial sweetener. Lactic, milk chocolate. Grasses and herbs round out the flavors on the palate with a mild cola flavor.

A rather bitter peat on the finish. Almost Laphroaig medicinal earthy note. Far, far more bitter on the finish than the flavors lead me on the palate. Campfire and chocolate. Not really a s’more but definitely milk chocolate.

This one is equally as enjoyable as #153. It’s incredibly different to other whiskies I’ve had and another I would buy a full bottle of if available. Overall it’s a great end cap to this tasting flight.

Chattanooga did not disappoint with these experimental barrels at all. They were incredibly fun to taste through and two showed promise enough that I feel Chatt should consider pursuing them further. It’s very nice to taste a peated American malt that doesn’t try to mimic an Ardbeg but stand out on it’s own entirely. Certainly the cask and mash bill help that but I can’t wait for the next straight malt to come out of Chattanooga.