INSPIRED BY GOLF’S “FIELD OF DREAMS” IN TENNESSEE, A TROOP OF LEGENDARY SPORTS ICONS INCLUDING PEYTON MANNING TEAMED WITH ONE OF WHISKEY’S FASTEST RISING STARS FOR A SMALL-BATCH PREMIUM BOURBON THAT NEEDS NO CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT
BY AMANDA MCCOY
About 30 miles west of Chattanooga in a remote stretch of the Tennessee Mountains lies Sweetens Cove, a rustic nine-hole golf course that, even with the lack of indoor plumbing, became a cult favorite and bucket list destination for enthusiasts around the world. Among its surfeit of devoted fans are a few of the most recognizable faces in sports, including tennis luminary Andy Roddick, legendary sportscaster Jim Nantz, former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and his brother, the Sheri himself, Peyton. A longstanding tradition lives on these hallowed greens: before teeing off, the players toast with a shot of bourbon. When this quartet, joined by former English soccer star Mark Rivers and country singer Drew Holcomb, purchased Sweetens Cove in 2019, they wanted to offer visitors a bourbon that would be just as special as the mountain-sheathed course, and the idea for Sweetens Cove Tennessee Straight Bourbon took shape.
The team found their master blender in Marianne Eaves, a Tennessee native who boasts as much star power in the spirits industry as the Manning name in sports, making history as Kentucky’s first female bourbon master distiller since Prohibition when she took the reins at Castle & Key in Frankfort. Sweetens Cove’s inaugural release in 2020 comprised just 13,500 bottles and quickly sold out. In an industry swarming with celebrities, it became apparent this was the real deal: artisanal, complex, blended by a true master of her craft. The 2021 release swelled to 40,000 bottles, offering tipplers this time around a blend of four, six, and 16-year-old barrels, described as primarily a six-year sipper with an even split between 16 and four. Each barrel brings its own set of flavors to the table: dark spice and prominent oak from the six-year, red wine qualities like clove and red fruit from the 16. The four-year barrel lifts the bourbon up, offering bright flavors of honey, citrus fruit, and apple peel. Sip it neat and enjoy the complexity.