New micro-distillery shows increase in local business growth

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — A new micro-distillery, Gate 11, opens its doors to Chattanooga. This is just one of many spirit-filled establishments starting business in the Scenic City.

“Chattanooga is a great tourism town, it’s a great active young persons town, and I thought there’s room for more distilleries in Chattanooga. Got lots of breweries, but not that many distilleries,” proprietor William Lee said.

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Lee’s family has lived in the Chattanooga area for generations. Now he brings a taste of that to the Chattanooga Choo Choo, distilling local vodka, rum, gin and whiskey.

“I love it,” Peter Marinello said. “I think it’s neat because you know you’re so used to the chains and Chattanooga just offers a lot of unique places and gives you a lot of variety. So I think it’s great.”

Gate 11 becomes just the third local distillery in Chattanooga.


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“Being unique and special, it definitely has appeal. It follows the farm to table, the locally grown, organic, that whole movement in the food level is also happening at the distilled spirits and the brewery level,” Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Barry White said. “It’s something that’s true to us as a community.”

Lee says the recent liquor law changes have contributed to Chattanooga’s growth in the local spirit business.

“I think there’s an interest in locally produced products, first of all,” Lee said. “I think there’s also been a relaxation of some of the regulations that control how some of these things are done. The combination of those things I think is what’s driven the craft beverage explosion, if you will.”

“I don’t know how many times I hear people, they walk up and they say, ‘What do you have local? What’s on tap local?’ And it’s just something that people seek out now, so it’s just nice to have additional options for them,” White said.

Lee says Gate 11’s focus is on the cocktail bar, which has both inside and outside access. You can also create your own whiskey and age it directly in Gate 11’s box car at the Choo Choo.