Announcing Sweetens Cove Bourbon
May 20, 2020
Announcing Sweetens Cove Bourbon
Marianne Eaves offered some insights and details from her recent project as Master Blender of
Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon. No stranger to the spirits industry or creating and growing one-of-a-
kind premium spirits, Marianne will forever hold a place in history as Kentucky’s First Female Bourbon
Master Distiller since Prohibition. She was recognized by Whiskey Advocate Magazine as “the Next
Generation” of the bourbon industry; honored by Forbes in their 30 under 30 list in 2015; named as one of
America’s Top 40 under 40 Tastemakers by Wine Enthusiast Magazine; and, was identified as one of the
top “Southern Women” by Garden & Gun Magazine in 2019.
It is no wonder that she was recruited to serve as Master Blender of the first Sweetens Cove release.
Here is a brief discussion with Marianne in early March, 2020.
How did you get started with the Sweetens Cove Bourbon project?
I received a message about a new Tennessee focused brand with a very premium, yet stealth and
mysterious approach. It was the first time I had heard of Sweetens Cove, and the amazing cult following
they have built with the golf course near Chattanooga because of their passion for restoring and
preserving that very special place really spoke to me. When I heard more about their vision, their story
and their crew, I got really excited. We spent some time together on ideas and approach and, it all came
together quickly. The Sweetens people want to create an ultra-premium, best-in-class bourbon that
elevates Tennessee-made offerings. Our passions and interests really aligned.
Is it true that you have some Tennessee roots, just like the Sweetens Cove brand?
I was born in Chattanooga, but didn’t spend much time there. I grew up in Kentucky and attended the
University of Louisville. Nashville has always had a special place in my heart, too. I have so many great
friends and memories there as I have grown in the spirits industry and the city also keeps blooming and
blossoming. With Sweetens, I love the Tennessee part of the story and it was really serendipitous that we
share that legacy together.
Tell us about how you got your arms around the juice and the blending process?
The Sweetens team was able to get their hands on 100 exclusive barrels of 13-year aged Tennessee
product that was being housed in a warehouse in Kentucky. They brought it back to Tennessee, its
rightful place and I began the meticulous process to blend. I spent several days tasting and charting out
every individual barrel. They were all unique and I had a ton of fun imagining ways they could be
mingled together to create beautiful flavors. I found that there were four of those 100 barrels that I think
are worthy of a single-barrel release.
And as you got going, what was the story that unfolded?
It became a strategy of creating five different batches, aligning different flavor profiles along the way.
We will only have about 14,000 bottles – not cases – in total. So, this will be a hyper-limited,
handcrafted release. One of the batches really jumped out because it had a strong caramel and vanilla
aroma and lingering sweetness. Another had the warm cooperage of oak with sweet and spicy and lasting
smoke finish. In the end, there are five different personalities and characteristics. I love them each, for a
different reason and appeal.
And so, how would the Sweetens Cove first release stack up, as launch gets underway?
This bourbon is really exquisite. We hope it will become a cult product that bourbon aficionados and the
best bars will all want. There aren’t many bottles altogether and each batch within the first release is
distinctive. The batch isn’t going to be specifically marked, so you will have to be “in the know” to locate
them with subtle identifiers. I love that this is top-notch Tennessee made product and believe like the
Sweetens team, that there is a huge opportunity for higher-end Tennessee offerings in the market. No
reason why a bar in Nashville or Knoxville or Chatt can’t have a local product that absolutely stacks up
with the best whiskeys in the world and be proud to call it Tennessee-made and crafted.
Do you have a plan for the single-barrel release?
There were four barrels that I felt were too special to combine in the first batches, so yes! There will be
single barrels to share and we’re working on a plan now for release later in 2020, with its own unique
offering, packaging and story.
Obviously, there are a lot of new artisan brands emerging – not just in Tennessee but, throughout
the spirits space. Has the nature of the business changed, even in the last few years?
Since I started in the industry in 2009 there has been a tremendous change, and it continues now. Since
starting my own business in the past year and having the freedom to travel the country I’m discovering
more and more excellent locally made spirits. Part of this growth can be attributed to laws in the various
states changing, due to passionate champions of the industry, who have encouraged craft products and
entrepreneurship. Some of these new distilleries and brands are entering with the hopes of capitalizing on
the growth, but they just don’t have passion for the product. I only want to work with brands who insist
on continually raising the bar, for themselves and the industry as a whole. Sweetens is definitely in the
What do you see next with the Sweetens Cove brand?
We’ve been talking about that a bit in the last couple of weeks. We see some new and special
opportunities out there that we will definitely kick the tires on. The Sweetens vision is so fresh and fun –
they are treasure hunters, both with the golf and now the spirits, and are always looking for the
undiscovered and special. I am excited to be a part of that journey with them, as we move ahead. Stay
And there is some exciting personal news for you. Can you share?
Yes! I’m a new mother! This is my first child, a baby girl and, I am thrilled. She doesn’t know it yet,
but she will spend a lot of her formative years in distilleries and tasting labs and road trips. Can’t wait to
have my little wing-woman at my side.