Nothing says Tennessee quite like dark liquor. The common man's Scots-Irish brew of distilled spirits from corn, a crop that grows even in the most barren, hillbilly backcountry, has been a staple in this country since the beginning. The cult status golf course, Sweetens Cove, has a new bourbon, a product which takes its parent's name.
The course has long been legendary in golf circles. Sweetens has the aura of a holy city for a certain type of sports fanatic or real golf head. The course sits on the banks of Battle Creek, a tributary of the Tennessee River. It isn't far from Chattanooga, in the southeastern part of that southeastern state.
The place could be described as a kind of hole in the wall; it never had a clubhouse, or, at least, not one with air conditioning. Some people have likened Sweetens to a gentleman's "Field of Dreams," after the classic baseball movie starring Kevin Costner. The idiom describes a makeshift or impromptu spot that, nevertheless, all the best people want to visit.
A group of private investors, who describe themselves as friends, purchased the place in 2019. They say they want to preserve the spirit of the course, to protect it for future generations of golfers. The owners include hometown New Orleans hero Peyton Manning who, of course, famously quarterbacked for the University of Tennessee Knoxville.
Traditionally, visitors to Sweetens take a shot of whiskey at the first tee to commemorate the experience. In a play on that time-honored rite of passage to the course, the new Sweetens ownership has developed the new product, Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon.
For now, at least, the release looks rather limited in scale. The company says they are distributing 14,000 bottles. The Sweetens Cove bourbon is very much a top-shelf type of liquor. This limited release signals the beginning of a new artisan brand that prioritizes quality over quantity. Sweetens says people can expect more alcohol in the future.
For more information, visit sweetenscovespirits.com.