Wednesday, January 03, 2018 12:48 AM


William A. Lee, a Soddy-Daisy man who plans to open a microdistillery inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, knows a thing or two about making alcohol. Lee was general manager of the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co., a plant in Benson, Minn., that produced 50 million gallons of ethanol a year. The bulk of that wound up as a gasoline additive. But the plant, located a two-and-a-half hours' drive west of Minneapolis and cooperatively owned by 950 farmers, also produced Prairie brand organic vodka. "It was sure sexier when you talked to be people about it," Lee said of making the award-winning vodka versus the fuel additive. Lee hopes to get approval next week from the Chattanooga City Council to open a distillery inside the Choo Choo just past the dome lobby in what used to be the Gardens Restaurant dining room. Called Ridgecroft Refining for the time being, the distillery will make up to 5,000 gallons a month of high-end yet "reasonably priced" vodka, gin, rum and whiskey from locally-sourced grains, when available, in stills of Lee's own designing. "We're going to design and build [the stills] ourselves - that's unique," he said. "Our facility will offer tours and tastings ...

News source: Times Free Press

See also: ChooChoo