Peyton Manning has never encountered a problem he hasn’t embraced. Football, sure, but even back when he was playing he was opening pizza chains and peddling DirecTV with shocking efficiency. Now he’s embarking on his latest adventure: whiskey.
Well, not just whiskey. Bourbon. Specifically, bourbon for rich dads.
Here is, Sweetens Cove, the $ 200 bottle with the name janky Muppet-ly. Manning saw a path paved by celebrities like George Clooney and Jay-Z and, uh, Fuzzy Zoeller and decided this was the perfect company to add to his already packed portfolio. And so he decided, with Andy Roddick, to make his own whiskey based on a nine-hole golf course whose unspoken rule is a shot of bourbon before the first tee.
OK, fine. I get the fuss. I even ask Manning to make arrangements to cold-call the liquor stores in Indiana to force them to stock his signature liquor. Who in Hoosier State is going to say no to Peyton Manning?
There is wisdom in getting involved in the mind game. Conor McGregor’s stake in Proper Twelve Irish Whiskey assured the lawyer money to save him from various legal scuffs long after he was done losing fights in the Octagon. The rising valuation of sought after bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle has created a sell-and-resale market similar to the bubble of sports cards, only with a product you can drink when you lose thousands of dollars as the market goes down. Damn, I can’t find Blanton’s anywhere in the state of Wisconsin, because membership has effectively tripled the MSRP of each bottle.
But man, I’m skeptical as hell about this bourbon. He screams to bow to a demographic willing to pay whatever it takes to get a Vineyard Vines whale monogram on his golf bag. Manning says the 13-year-old blended malt, which experts say comes from the George Dickel Distillery in Tennessee, is pretty good. Of course, in the same Indy Star post where he talks about his new liquor, he also admits to being heavily involved with Michelob Ultra.
For the most part, however, Manning calls himself a “genuine beer drinker.” He went from heavy beer to light beer and now, at 45, Michelob Ultra is a dear friend to him, he said.
Michelob Ultra is actively marketed to marathon runners, fitness enthusiasts and anyone else who thinks a bottle of High Life is “too heavy”. Holding a can is a warning that you are going to uninvitedly tell a stranger about that killer WOD you had this morning. Then follow up with “oh, I’m sorry, WOD is the workout of the day.” It’s a CrossFit thing. The drink itself is as satisfying as someone describing a beer on a hectic Zoom call.
Then there is the cost; the man with the fridge full of Michelob – the guy who went to school where they proudly drink their corn from a jar – would love you to buy a mixed bourbon for $ 200. For the same price as a fifth, I could buy four bottles of Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style whiskey or, if you’re more into peaty scotches, three bottles of Lagavulin 16 (that’s Wisconsin. Alcohol is cheap. There are more bars than churches). Esquire says it’s overpriced but also better than Scottie Pippen’s bourbon or Nick Jonas’ tequila, so… take it your way.
In the end, it’s probably a really good malt – it’s aged like a premium spirit and blended by master distiller Marianne Eaves, whose rules most connoisseurs agree – which sells for twice as much. than it’s worth because a Hall of Famer called your local liquor store, worked “Omaha” and “laser rocket arm” into a three-minute conversation, and found a spot on the shelf from the top where the Stagg and Black Maple Hill were. Each pour comes with a story about how it is “Peyton Manning’s Whiskey” and how it works just as well on a golf course as it does in a hunting lodge in front of a roaring fire. It is a whiskey designed to impress your boss or stepfather. It’s weight in the bottle.
Damn, maybe it’s worth it for you.