Boxcar Whiskey – A Fortuitous Gimmick

We didn’t plan to have a boxcar barrelhouse from the start. It wasn’t until we had actually built the distillery and started to plan for whiskey production that we realized – we just don’t have room to store barrels around here. Distiller and Gin Mistress Wanda suggested using a railcar but the ones on-site were all in use as Choo Choo hotel rooms .

Still, that idea had a certain resonance. After all, we are in a historic train station. And who ever heard of aging whiskey on a boxcar. What a differentiator!

A quick call to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and a bald-faced request for a free boxcar donation yielded a surprising – Yes. All we had to do is move it here by crane and truck. Once on-site, we added electricity, ventilation and a deck. Now its ready for the whiskey.

But is aging whiskey on a boxcar actually a good idea? That question had us quite concerned in the early going. We know that our boxcar heats up and cools down daily much more completely than most of the barrels in a large rick house would. It is basically a metal box sitting out exposed to the sun. Without ventilation, it can get as much as 15 degrees above ambient temperatures on a hot summer day. Does this dramatic temperature promote faster whiskey maturation or does it cross some threshold where something negative happens?

To answer these questions, we turned to our network of technical experts within the craft distilling industry and found out that our Boxcar Barrelhouse fits well within the category of Warm Weather Whiskey Maturation.  The most notable proponents of this approach are many of the Texas craft distilleries like Balcones, and Still Austin. There are even distilleries in Texas that paint their barrelhouses black to further accentuate this effect. Whiskey does in fact mature more rapidly in an environment where temperature swings more dramatically on a daily and a seasonal basis and this warm weather approach can create exceptional spirits.

As noted above, we have installed ventilation in our boxcar to keep temperatures on those very hot summer days within 5 to 7 degrees of ambient. Otherwise, we feel that we have a created a great barrelhouse with our boxcar and we look forward to seeing the results when we release our first batches on bourbon and rye next year. We are further encouraged to see that our very first whiskey release -Ross + McClatchey Single Malt – received a Bronze Medal this summer in the American Craft Spirits competition. That bodes well for our subsequent whiskey batches!

Gate 11 will be starting its 2022/2023 Boxcar Whiskey program starting in October. This unique program gives participants to ability to help us produce bourbon, rye and single malt whiskeys right here in our distillery. And you get a case of whiskey at the end of the process. Check out the Custom Spirits section of our website for details at 






Distillery and Cocktail  WINTER Bar Hours:

Mon – 1 pm to 11 pm

Tues – 1 pm to 5 pm

Wed – 1 pm to 5 pm

Thur: 1 pm to 10 pm

Fri – 11 am to 11 pm

Sat –  11am to 11pm

Sun – 12 noon to  7 pm

We are serving cocktails at our indoor and outdoor cocktail bars overlooking the Chattanooga Choo Choo engine and our spacious covered patio. You take your cocktails with you as wander around the Choo Choo gardens since the entire area is Open Container.