More To The Story: Choo Choo Distillery
Dave finds a great cocktail being distilled at Gate 11
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Bill Lee spent his younger years in the field of chemical engineering. And biofuels.
His wife, Wanda, was a school teacher.
Then they moved full-time into the world of distilling spirits. Boy howdy, has that worked out well.
They founded Gate Eleven. It’s a small distillery in the Choo Choo complex. One of only two distilleries here in Chattanooga.
Important people are noticing!
BILL LEE, OWNER / CO-FOUNDER;
“Our intent is to make a wide range of spirits. And offer both at our cocktail bar AND for the folks at home to buy. We want high quality, world class Chattanooga craft spirits.”
Bill and Wanda are doing just that alrighty! Less than a month ago in San Francisco, a group of 70 international judges tasted some 5,000 spirits from all over the world.
Gate 11’s vodka and gin were both named double gold winners. The highest honor. The gin was double gold for the second year in a row. Only one other distillery in the USA repeated as a double gold winner.
Bill said he was surprised. Wanda was not.
“I wasn’t surprised at all. It’s an excellent product. I should be more humble, but it’s a great product. It’s consistent. And that’s what makes it wonderful!”
This small distillery, one of only two distilleries in Chattanooga, operates five stills. In a pretty small space.
It takes the Lee’s about a week to distill a spirit such as gin.
All in all, Gate Eleven is very unique. Bill says he likes it like that way.
“We don’t go for a lot of hype. We try and let the spirits speak for themselves. Winning the award is validation. It cuts through the marketing chatter you see in other places.”
The awards give this “little engine that could” a lot of credibility. Especially the back to back win for the gin. And especially coming from the most prestigious tasting event in the world.
The Lee’s say it’s all due to hard work. And lots of tender loving care.
From the Choo Choo, Dave Staley, News 12 Now