Founder of Chattanooga Whiskey explains resignation, plans for the future

Authored By chloe.morrison

Founder of Chattanooga Whiskey Joe Ledbetter-who had been the face of the company since its 2011 launch-is offering explanation for his recent resignation from Chattanooga Whiskey and Tennessee Stillhouse

After his recent arrest, leaders with Chattanooga Whiskey Company said that Ledbetter was an inactive employee acting as owner and board member. 

Now, Ledbetter is officially announcing his resignation but said it has nothing to do with the arrest. 

“In light of recent, shall we say ‘legal issues,’ I’d be the first one to ask, ‘Did you get fired after you were thrown in jail?'” he wrote in a prepared statement. “The answer is no. But I believe in transparency, even when it’s tough, so allow me to tell you what the real reason is-I’m resigning because, well, I’m really tough to work with.”

He also wrote: 

Over the past several years, being the co-founder of Chattanooga Whiskey has taken its toll on me, my family, my business partner, our employees and certainly the amazing investors that have taken a huge risk on our dream. Having never started a company, let alone one that grew so quickly, I think it would be fair to say that I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Specifically, the biggest mistake I’ve made is that I put my personal vision for Chattanooga Whiskey above valued personal and professional relationships. I could probably go on for days on other mistakes I’ve made over the past few years, but at this point, I realize it’s time to move on.

Ledbetter still has equity in the company he founded, he also said. 

And, in a phone call, he elaborated and said that he has realized he thrives in a fast-paced startup world where innovation is the main focus. When he can’t create, he becomes hard to work with, he said. 

So he’s working on new projects. 

Contacting Joe 

Ledbetter’s new contact information is [email protected] and 423-580-5610. 

He’s created The Barrelhouse Lab. The idea is that without barrels, a barrelhouse is just a barn. So each of his new projects under the The Barrelhouse Lab will represent a different barrel. 

“A barrelhouse with many barrels is a viable thing,” he said.

Ledbetter said he’s passionate about the spirits industry, so one of the projects he’s working on is the Tennessee Whiskey Festival, which is scheduled for Nov. 14-15.

He said the public can expect more information on that festival soon. 

“The project I’m most excited about is, believe it or not, a book that I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time now,” he said in a prepared statement.

The working title is “The Gospel of Whiskey,” and Ledbetter said he hopes to share his experiences from the past three years in social media, marketing and building a community of people who care about Chattanooga Whiskey.

“Ultimately, I believe consumers in all industries deserve better than to be called ‘consumers,'” he said. “The core idea is if you build a community around a company, that company stands to have a greater financial and social value over the long term.”

He said he feels good about the leadership of Chattanooga Whiskey and the Tennessee Stillhouse and that the past few years brought both mistakes and successes. 

He’s proud of everything he was a part of and said he’s honored to have helped change a 100-year-old pre-Prohibition law, which had prevented Chattanooga Whiskey from being produced here. 

“At the end of the day, my true gratitude goes out to the city of Chattanooga and the people who have stood with me and the company that I love so dearly,” he said. 

Disclaimer:‘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.