‘Chattanooga Whiskey’ Stirs Wet, Dry Spirits in Hamilton County

Hamilton County was left out of a 2009 law passed by the legislature to allow liquor distilleries in some counties, leaving the company that makes “Chattanooga Whiskey” to make it in Indiana. The Times-Free Press reports that efforts to change the situation have stirred a controversy among legislators and local officials.
That means that for now, Chattanooga residents can drink whiskey but they can’t manufacture it until the legislature reverses itself.
Two Democratic members of the local legislative delegation — Rep. Tommie Brown and Rep. JoAnne Favors — supported the initial plan that would have allowed the distillation of liquor in Hamilton. Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, also supported allowing Hamilton County to produce liquor.
But the bill was later changed by a House and Senate conference committee to exclude various counties, including Hamilton.
Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, was vehement in his opposition to having a whiskey distillery in Chattanooga, and remains adamant about it three years later.
“I tell you alcohol kills more people every year than all illegal drugs put together,” Floyd said, noting he has a friend whose only son was recently killed by a drunken driver. “People who make it [alcohol], people who sell it and people who buy it, they have a share of responsibility [in such deaths.]”
“By my faith, I vote against every alcohol bill. I’d vote twice if I could,” he said.
Sen. Andy Berke said he voted against the bill when it originally passed as well as the conference committee report because it was “confusing.”
“It seemed to set up a number of different routes and overall didn’t seem like it was going to help the entire state,” Berke said, adding his “no” vote came in “part because I thought it was confusing as to how Hamilton County was treated.”

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