Some things simply slip through the cracks. When preparing one of my upcoming reviews, I realized that I hadn’t talked about a certain bottle that I bought on a whim during my vacation last year. That bottle is 1816 Reserve from Chattanooga Whiskey. Although the folks at Chattanooga Whiskey were quick to release their own distillate (to much deserved fanfare), 1816 Reserve was how they got started. The process starts with 2-10-year bourbon (sourced from Ross & Squibb) “aged in cooler, more humid parts of the rickhouse” before entering a solera-style barrel, which acts a bit like an infinity bottle. In this sense the bottles of 1816 are always changing in profile.
Distribution on 1816 Reserve seems to be hit or miss, as I’ve yet to see it anywhere outside of Tennessee. Perusing online retails has also proved to be an uphill battle with next to no avail. The MSRP seems to be around $30 or so, but the distillery had a deal last year when I visited: Purchase almost any bottle and get 1816 Reserve for just $20. I opted for a 375 of both the Chattanooga 91 and 111, which was eligible for the deal on 1816 Reserve. Let’s take a gander.
Nose: Moderate oak presence. Medium dark fruit with orange spice and red grapes. Light, floral tobacco and hint of fruity tea. Soft nuttiness and a brushing of cocoa powder.
Palate: Almond and wood. Fruity vanilla cream. Bit of oak spice warms the back palate. Nice transition from sweet to dry, same goes for the orange and dried red fruit notes. Roasted pecans and almond cake.
Finish: Decent length. Well balanced oak lingers with a dry pecan note holding out, along with an air of salted toffee.
Surprise bottles seem to be a dwindling breed these days. This goes doubly so when sticking to a more aggressive budget. Becoming more engaged with whiskey as a hobby often results in increased spending, so some part of it is clearly self-inflicted. For some it reaches the point that the latest premium releases become the only bottles worth eyeballing. Even the comparatively casual among us will consider something more allocated before trying an everyday shelfer simply because the former is less replaceable. Yet there’s something to be said for unsuspecting bottles, particularly those that come in at a budget-friendly price. Chattanooga 1816 Reserve is a perfect example of this.
Of all the bottles I returned home with last year, 1816 Reserve was easily the biggest surprise from a price-to-quality standpoint. What impressed me the most was how deep and weighty it came across for such an inexpensive product. Normally experiences like that come from bottles commanding far higher prices. The flavor profile was also on-point; the more aged components from the solera cask undoubtedly play a beneficial role here. I sincerely hope Chattanooga Whiskey continue to produce 1816 Reserve and work to increase its distribution. It would become a mainstay (likely Daily Drinker) if so.