In his new role as president of Chattanooga Whiskey, Andrew Kean will head up business strategies for the company, and leaders are focusing first on opening the new downtown distillery and promoting existing products.
"My role is ... to provide leadership around financial, strategic and organizational priorities," he said.
Tim Piersant and Joe Ledbetter launched the startup in 2011 and then worked with state and local lawmakers to change the law that prevented them from making their product locally.
—He grew up and went to college in Virginia.
—He came to Chattanooga to work with his father-in-law as president of Rock City Inc., where he spent nearly six years.
—He has three children, boys who are ages 4, 2 and 1.
Chattanooga Whiskey is currently made in Lawrenceburg, Ind., but will soon be made locally at a new distillery called the Tennessee Stillhouse. Click here to read about the recent announcement of the downtown distillery.
The Tennessee Stillhouse is also the name of the umbrella organization under which Chattanooga Whiskey brands and the distillery operate.
With Kean coming onboard, Piersant will be vice president of Chattanooga Whiskey Company and will focus on increasing local and national sales.
Ledbetter will continue in his role as "whiskey enthusiast," developing ideas to boost the brand, officials said when they announced Kean's new role.
In addition to focusing on the new distillery and on the current products—the 1816 Cask and 1816 Reserve—Kean said he wants to head up a creative, innovative team whose ultimate mission is to "do good."
But even the best intentions sometimes create controversy.
On Tuesday, the Chattanooga Whiskey team announced they would cancel their New Year's Eve party after meeting with bar and restaurant owners who expressed concerns that the liquor producer was becoming a competitor. Click here to read about that.
And Kean's departure from his post as chief operating officer for the city of Chattanooga also raised eyebrows because he had only been in that position for about six months.
But Kean said that community connections are important to the company.
"Our goal is to build long-term value," he said. "The foundation of that is strong and solid relationships."
Currently, Chattanooga Whiskey is sold in Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, and Kean said that the team is going to focus on expanding more into markets in those states.
"We want to be—as we have been—unique and rare in the industry," Kean said. "It's a really robust industry right now. Many people are entering it."
The current Chattanooga Whiskey products have been aged for nearly six years in Indiana. The product is bottled by SPEAKeasy Spirits, which is based in Nashville.
They will also launch new products within the next 12 to 24 months, but Kean declined to elaborate on specifics.
The Chattanooga Whiskey team wants to work on creating an experience that will add to Chattanooga's tourism industry, Kean said.
"What's awesome is these guys never stop creating," Kean said of the Chattanooga Whiskey team. "Our goal is to channel that in a way that is focused and deliberate so we don't lose focus on our existing products."
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