Kennessee, Michiana, Michihio, Califoregon… OK, maybe I made that last one up.
Mashing up bordering states names to describe the areas between them is common for the people who live in the areas that border other states. What isn’t common? Blending two whiskies from two states that identify so much with a particular style of American spirit, and then finishing them with toasted sugar maple wood. Marianne Eaves has always been bold, but truly this was a bold move.
Kentucky Bourbon vs. Tennessee Whiskey.
Bourbon vs Bourbon with the Lincoln County Process. (I really poked the bear with that last one).
Sweetens Cove is brand that was born out of – and named after – a 9 hole golf course in Tennessee. Two of the more prominent owners of the whiskey brand are NFL hall-of-famer Peyton Manning and Tennis legend Andy Roddick, both of whom were childhood heroes of mine. The skeptics and keepers of whiskies past scoffed at another new entrant into the whiskey world.
The skepticism is not unlike the current crisis facing the PGA Tour. The PGA has seen star players and big names leave their tour in favor of a well-funded competitor known as LIV golf. There are plenty of articles and discussions about the two tours that you can read which will give you more backstory, but I wanted to present one facet of this story that I think applies here: people are always skeptical of those that try to buy their way into an industry.
It is especially common in whiskey for people to raise an eyebrow when a brand enters the market at a premium, which Sweetens Cove did. Their initial offerings did not come at a price that the common man would deem reasonable.
Yet, I keep my eyes on these brands when they start up. I read reviews like you do. I listen to those that have tried it. I try to read between the lines… but I still I find it rare that I would ever pay that amount of money for a bottle of whiskey.
At a cost of around $60 in my neck of the woods, it comes in at a very reasonable price. The brand has a good story and noteworthy owners. It has a blender that has made a name for herself in the whiskey world. My interest is at an all-time high.
So, what are my expectations for this whiskey before I dive in? Many of you know that I have a love for finished whiskey, although his one took a different route than we are accustomed to seeing. The whiskies were blended and put into a vat before having spirals added to them. The spirals were of the sugar maple wood, which rounds out this intriguing bottle.
Now before I go into Malt scoring mode there was another competition that I had to see to first: would this whiskey make it to my second flask? The second flask designation is a big one. In my golf bag I carry two flasks. The first remains filled with the same blend I have been making for years. The second one rotates with more current offerings, ones that have unique tastes and incredible stories.
Currently that second flask is carrying around the Jack Daniels Triple Mash which I have already reviewed for Malt. I have also admitted to being a “golfer.” Indeed, golf is just another hobby that I have picked up in my lifetime that I know I will never be good at, but somehow brings me a lot of joy… like tasting whiskey.
Now I’ll spiral into a paragraph of self-reflection that you can choose to read, or you skip ahead to see the score. For those of you that stayed, here we go:
None of us will be experts at whiskey, nor masters of the golf game. Heck, very few of us will ever be in full control of our lives. Still, we can steal away moments in time where we can reflect on ourselves, enjoy the company of others, or ponder the things bigger than us.
That is the feeling of standing in a fairway on an early morning. It’s the melted ice on the arm of your chair on a late summer’s evening. There are moments where we feel like we should be advancing ourselves or getting better at something. Sometimes, the answer is just enjoying.
It’s that feeling of a well struck chip shot to ease the pain of a missed green in regulation. That perfect ratio of ice to whiskey where the vapors sneak into your senses as you tip the glass back and a rush of slick flavor-filled enjoyment rushes past while giving you a pleasant finish as the sun sets in your back yard.
Sometimes the stories don’t matter. It doesn’t matter how you got there. All that matters is that moment in time. That one chip. That one sip. No one cares whether you’re playing Bethpage Black or your local municipal course. No one cares if you are drinking Stitzel-Weller wheated bourbon or the store brand that is most likely from Indiana; all that matters is if you enjoy it.
With that said: while ignoring the naysayers about celebrity bourbon, I’ll take an honest look at the whiskey before us.
Sweetens Cove Kennessee – Review
110.7 proof (55.35% ABV)
Color: Light brown.
On the nose: A cinnamon toast crunch bomb hits you. Someone put the milk in the microwave for way too long and poured in the cereal. The warm sweet and spicy notes are rich and hit you like a warm towel.
In the mouth: A rush of flavors hit you like burnt sugar, orange, black pepper, coriander. It’s a hot Christmas cookie where everyone decided to add in their own “secret ingredient.” It’s bold, and coats the mouth well. The finish mellows like a rollercoaster that has one last medium loop to throw you around. It’s there that a soothing vanilla and cough drop combo coats the tongue. Is it a cherry Luden this time? An herbal Ricola cough drop? Even a black licorice rope? The burnt sugar/crème brûlée flavor is heavy and sits on top of it before you can guess what it might be.
A fun experiment, like someone attempting to flop it from just off the green when a simple chip would’ve sufficed. Tons of style points for the flair with which this whiskey was created. It’s going in the second flask.