Pressure from area restaurant and bar owners may have prompted the cancellation of Chattanooga Whiskey's New Year's Eve celebration.
Officials with the local whiskey company announced midday Wednesday that they wouldn't move forward with the party.
"There were a lot of factors that played into our decision, and it was certainly not made lightly," Chattanooga Whiskey Company spokeswoman Ashley Danford said in an email. "In the end, we thought canceling the Barrel Drop was the best decision for our company. Though we are most certainly saddened by the cancellation, we are viewing this as a way to dedicate ourselves 100 percent to bringing whiskey back to Chattanooga and building the Tennessee Stillhouse."
That move came after discussions between local restaurant and bar owners and Chattanooga Whiskey leaders.
Bar and restaurant owners expressed concerns that the liquor producer was becoming more of a competitor.
"This is the first time I have seen a liquor/wine/beer producer knowingly compete with their customers and primary sales force," restaurateur with Public House Nathan Lindley said via email.
Although Public House doesn't rely much on New Year's Eve business, some bars and restaurants do count on holidays for business, he said.
Chattanooga Whiskey has hosted a couple of parties, including a Halloween party. The parties are advertised as free events and attract large crowds.
Other local business owners echoed Lindley's sentiment, adding that many restaurant and bar owners have promoted Chattanooga Whiskey, even though it isn't technically made here.
So it aggravated some businesspeople when the whiskey maker appeared to be becoming competition for bars and restaurants.
Some boiled it down to one question: Is Chattanooga Whiskey an event company or a whiskey maker?
New President of Chattanooga Whiskey Company Andrew Kean said Wednesday morning that the team's primary goals are to focus on opening the Tennessee Stillhouse and to support their two primary products—the reserve and cask whiskey products.
Kean acknowledged discussions between Chattanooga Whiskey leaders and local restaurant and bar owners.
He said it was never the intention to create tension and that, on the contrary, the idea was to do something positive for the community.
"Our focus is to build and support great brands, to open up a local distillery in accordance with that and to provide a great product," Kean said. "That's our commitment and that's our focus."
Before officials made the decision to cancel the party, they went before the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board to get the needed permits, and officials delayed the permit request to get feedback from residents who live in close proximity to the party location, which was in the 700 block of Market Street.
Authorities wanted to see whether nearby residents would be bothered by the party.
"They wanted to send out letters to those that are in close proximity to the event in an attempt to see what type of feedback they would receive," Sgt. Jeffrey T. Gaines said via email.
Disclaimer: Nooga.com's parent company is Lamp Post Group, which has a business relationship with Chattanooga Whiskey Company. Editorial decisions for this publication are made independently of Lamp Post and Chattanooga Whiskey.
Updated @ 1:49 p.m. on 12/11/13 to add more information as it became available.
Updated @ 2:41 p.m. on 12/11/13 to add more information as it became available.
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