published Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Hamilton County commissioners approve giving whiskey support letter to legislators

Chattanooga Whiskey Co. supporters wear buttons that say "Vote Whiskey" as they show up in support as company owners appeared before the Hamilton County Commission in this file photo.
Chattanooga Whiskey Co. supporters wear buttons that say "Vote Whiskey" as they show up in support as company owners appeared before the Hamilton County Commission in this file photo.
Photo by John Rawlston.
Poll
Should whiskey be manufactured in Hamilton County?

Seven Hamilton County commissioners’ signatures on a formal letter show enough support to pass the issue of liquor distillation along to a local delegation of state lawmakers.

While the formal letter changes no laws, it requests that legislators act to change state law to allow bringing distilleries inside county borders.

Several commissioners warned in the meeting that the road to legal liquor-making could remain long and somewhat complicated, and that there is disagreement of how to locally apply a 2009 state law that paved the way for distilleries in Tennessee.

But the leaders of Chattanooga Whiskey Company, which long has lobbied local leaders for a change in Prohibition-era laws in order to manufacture whiskey, marked the vote as a victory.

“We can’t express the appreciation we have for those who’ve stood by us,” the company posted on Twitter. “We didn’t get 7 votes from the commission today, you did.”

Commissioners Jim Fields and Fred Skillern were reluctant to sign the letter until language was changed to limit distilleries to Hamilton County cities that already allow liquor retail sales and liquor-by-the-drink.

Commissioners Tim Boyd and Chester Banks abstained from signing.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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