Chattanooga Founder’s 10th Anniversary Blend Scoresheet & Review

Chattanooga Whiskey have been making quite the name for themselves the past few years. Nowadays people are familiar with their impressive Cask 111, recurring bonded releases, and occasional wildcard finishes (often gift shop exclusives). However, the whiskey they got started with (though relatively pedestrian) was crucial to not only letting them produce whiskey, but change Chattanooga’s distilling laws. 1816 Reserve took bourbon sourced from Ross & Squibb (then MGP) and finished it in a solera-style barrel containing bourbon aged 2-10 years. Some variations were also released, but by the time the brand was bottling their own whiskey, it quickly fell by the wayside, effectively vanishing from the market. Fast-forward to summer 2022 and the team at Chattanooga released a bottle to commemorate their first 10 years in business while paying homage to 1816 Reserve: Founder’s 10th Anniversary Blend.

Knowing where to start with Founder’s feels like a project in and of itself. The short version? It’s a 60/40 blend of Chattanooga’s own distillate to the aforementioned sourced bourbon. Yet anyone who pays attention to this wild Tennessee distillery will tell you that it’s not so cut-and-paste. More specifically, the blend is comprised of three whiskey recipes, which are labeled with percentages on the bottle. Take this information to the brand’s website and you’ll realize just how experimental the team can get. Here’s the breakdown:

51% B002: “Smoked High Malt.” Corn, malted rye, caramel malted barley, hardwood smoked malted barley (cherrywood) in toasted and charred 53 and 25 gallon casks for at least 2 years, followed by 2 months in 1816 straight bourbon casks (53 gallon).

9% SB091: “EXP Single Barrel 91 recipe.” Yellow corn, malted rye, caramel malted barley, honey malted barley for at least 3 years in toasted and charred 53 gallon casks.

40% 1816RES: 1816 Reserve

Such detail and transparency are music to a whiskey enthusiast’s ears. The other great thing about Founder’s? It hit the market for an MSRP of $50, a remarkably agreeable price for an LE. I wasn’t able to track one down locally, but did come into a sample. If it tells you anything, shortly after I tried said sample, a bottle soon came into my possession, courtesy of a fellow Floridian.

Nose: Backbone of honey, blueberry pie, and red licorice. Hints of vanilla and birchwood. Tobacco, flamed orange peel, and eventually light brown sugar come in swinging, practically defining the experience. Smoked cherrywood on post-sip.

Palate: Enters with a bouquet of cooked fruits (blueberries, blackberries, cranberries), followed by sweet oak and dark brown sugar. Moderate mouthfeel and mildly drying barrel spice. Cocktail cherries seems to stand out on further sips, along with some clove.

Finish: Retains the fruit notes before transitioning to a dry, but warm and fulfilling finish. Honey, tobacco, and a nice development of citrus. Veers into tannic territory enough to through the experience off ever so slightly.

It almost goes without saying that I’m a fan of this. 1816 Reserve was a pleasant surprise from the moment I first poured it, and I was just as quickly won over by my sample of Founder’s. I was also interested to see how my thoughts on the whiskey would shift from Boston round to full bottle (if at all). Unsurprisingly, the changes were ultimately minute, with small shortcomings becoming easier to discern—namely the slightly tannic finish and light drinking strength. I’d even venture to say that 1816 Reserve and Founder’s don’t provide drastically different drinking experiences. That’s not to say they aren’t different in and of themselves (they are), just that the overall enjoyment of Founder’s isn’t so far off from that of its predecessor.

If that doesn’t sound like a glowing endorsement, let’s try this: Chattanooga Founder’s builds upon the strengths of its predecessor in a way that feels natural. It’s positioned to be a competent, reasonably priced expression for those with any interest in the brand, which is precisely what it delivers. Perhaps the biggest surprise with it is how mature it comes across despite its youth. But many folks familiar with their core lineup will tell you that that’s par for the course. This is a fun, satisfying dram with great balance that can fulfill a variety of roles thanks in no small part to its agreeable price point and LE status. Whether you’re on a budget and still want a special treat, want to try more elevated cocktails, or are simply a fan of what the brand is doing, Founder’s hits the mark with little to be malcontent with.

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