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November 1, 2012

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I recently read where our very own Chattanooga Whiskey Company is leading attempts to reverse state legislation that currently prohibits the production of drinkable spirits in Hamilton County. If so, “Chattanooga” whiskey, currently distilled in Indiana, can rightfully claim its desired local connection.

With the Jack Daniel’s distillery located in Moore County, George Dickel in Coffee County, Prichard’s in Lincoln County and Collier & McKeel in Davidson County, you can’t spell Tennessee without a shot of whiskey. The barrel brown firewater has been in our state’s DNA for more than a century. George Jones even had a hit with a song titled “Tennessee Whiskey.”

But even our state’s penchant for producing whiskey isn’t without its contradictive oddities. Just the fact that Jack Daniel’s has been made for more than 130 years in what is now a dry county will clue one in on the fact that our Red State is driven by staunch morals, even though times do seem to be a’ changing.  

In 2009, the Tennessee General Assembly added 41 counties to the statute that previously limited the distillation of drinkable spirits to just 3 counties. This change was expected to lead to even more producers of worldwide-popular Tennessee whiskey. However, for some reason the home of one of Tennessee’s four largest metropolitan areas, Hamilton County, was left off of that list.

The current hold up in amending this legislation to include our home county is seated it seems with the upstanding intentions of Republican State Representative Richard Floyd – of Chattanooga! He was quoted as saying that since drinking and driving kills, his faith will not allow him to vote for any such amendment.

What!?! Excuse me, but I thought his political party, currently trying to reclaim the White House for Pete’s sake, is all about JOB CREATION. And since he’s a representative of our city’s best interests – as well as being up for re-election as a Republican – wouldn’t he want to create more jobs right in his own back yard? What does drinking and driving have to do with that? Good thing Romney isn’t paying attention.

Thankfully Floyd’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming election, Frank Eaton, has the foresight to see that moving production of Chattanooga Whiskey to its namesake city not only creates jobs and produces tax revenue that stimulates the local economy, but just makes sense.

Fact is, Chattanooga has been a brewer of beer for more than a century. Before prohibition, we were home to many, many local breweries. Since then, we brew and serve fine frothy alcoholic beverages by Big River, Chattanooga Brewing Company, Moccasin Bend Brewing Company and the Terminal Brewhouse, among others. What’s the difference between locally produced beer and locally produced spirits? Politics.

State laws – especially in Tennessee – are vastly different regarding anything having to do with beer, on the one hand, and liquor and wine on the other. You can’t sell everything in one store. You can’t even serve everything by the drink unless you jump through a few different sets of hoops. So the same is true with the production of alcoholic beverages I guess.

The bottom line is that if we truly are “one of the most progressive, livable cities in America,” then we need to put our money (or at least a taste of Tennessee whiskey) where our mouths are. I don’t know about you, but I believe that Frank Eaton (and Chattanooga Whiskey Company) may actually have our district’s best interests in mind when it comes to growing Chattanooga further beyond the dark ages.

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November 1, 2012

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