Review: Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon 13 Years Old (2020)

Review: Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon 13 Years Old (2020)

On the heels of the Bobby Jones-inspired The Clover Whiskey comes yet another golf-themed bourbon: Sweetens Cove. Admittedly, this one has a little more star power behind it (apologies to Bobby). For starters, this Tennessee bourbon whiskey gets its name from a golf course outside of Chattanooga so magical that a group of well-heeled friends, including Payton Manning and Andy Roddick, bought the place in 2019. Members of that same group decided to launch a whiskey of the same name, so they enlisted the blending expertise of master distiller Marianne Eaves, formerly of Castle & Key.

There was quite a bit of breathless anticipation among Kentucky bourbon fans for the first Castle & Key whiskey release, which is still TBD since Marianne’s departure, so Sweetens Cove is finally giving the world a bit of a peak behind that curtain. She reportedly took 100 barrels of Tennessee whiskey, at least 13-years old, and blended them into five distinct batches at a cask strength proof between 50% and 52% abv. Why is this a Tennessee bourbon whiskey and not just the more common Tennessee whiskey? That’s most likely just marketing since it appears all of the stock went through the Lincoln County Process (although some of it may have been aged in Kentucky).

Let’s check it out!

I said The Clover Whiskey 10 Year was one of the better noses on a Tennessee whiskey I’d encountered lately. Well, this may be the best I’ve ever come across. It’s thick and rich with intense aromas of worn saddle leather, orange oil, hazelnuts, and Belgian dark chocolate. There are few bourbons, let alone one from Tennessee, that have merited this much nose bobbing in my Glencairn. The palate doesn’t disappoint, either, although it’s surprisingly brighter than the nose suggests with lots of fruit: cocktail cherry, juicy orange, and a bit of lemon peel. It’s syrupy but not heavy on the tongue with a consistent, almost too gentle, heat. The mid-palate reveals Werther’s Originals candies, Almond Joy, pie spice, a bit of barrel char, and soft-edged barrel notes that let you know you’re drinking a well-aged and well-built whiskey. Well done, Marianne. And I guess Payton Manning, too.

The whiskey world has already taken notice of the price tag here, some comparing it unfavorably to the insane value that is George Dickel’s Bottled in Bond 13 Years Old. That whiskey is probably undervalued, but, more importantly, it tastes almost nothing like Sweetens Cove which deserves, in my opinion, to sit a shelf or two above the Dickel. Just sayin’.

101.4 proof.

A / $200 / 

Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon 13 Years Old (2020)




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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