On the back label for their newest release, Sweetens Cove asks: “Did we just become best friends?” That question seems intended for any number of recipients including, most obviously, consumers, but also the rival whiskey-producing states from which these bourbons are sourced and perhaps even to Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly fans (Google it). What’s clearer is that, after back-to-back super premium releases with hefty price tags (see here and here), this celebrity-fueled brand is hoping to entice new fans with a more wallet friendly edition to its portfolio.
Once again, the blend is the product of former Castle & Key Master Distiller Marianne Eaves, but unlike previous releases, which were all blends of Tennessee sourced bourbons, Kennessee is a non-age-stated mix of whiskeys from both Kentucky and Tennessee, hence Kennessee. Adorable, right? A blend of sourced bourbons isn’t all that original, but more noteworthy is the label’s fine print: “Finished with Toasted Sugar Maple Wood.” To achieve this finish, what Marianne has called “a Kentucky expression of the Lincoln County process,” toasted sugar maple spirals were added to the barrels for an undisclosed amount of time.
Let’s check it out.
The aroma is brighter than the first, older Sweetens Cove releases, showing lots of wood-driven sweetness amid more classic bourbon components that favor Tennessee whiskey a bit more than Kentucky bourbon. Notes of well-seasoned oak, peanut brittle, butterscotch, and maple candies make for an engaging first impression. On the palate, things are light but lively with a silky structure that’s still wood heavy but walks a tightrope between burly and balanced with enough success to keep it in the latter category for most of the experience. A bit of dusty baking spice at the outset turns to a hugging heat that lingers across the palate, warming notes of roasted nuts, torched sugar, vanilla custard, and orange marmalade on toast. The finish lingers with tobacco, maple sweetness, and a bit of sandalwood. Cringingly cute name aside, this is standout stuff.
A / $60