Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey
Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey is a relatively new introduction to the American Whiskey space. While the bottles may be new, the label hearkens to days of yesteryear and chances are, you've already seen some great bourbon from this brand - the Belle Meade lineup.
Whiskey Runs in the Family
This newly released whiskey has recently hit store shelves ... though, it's been here before. Charles Nelson - the great-great-great grandfather of current owners and brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson - founded a distillery in the early 1860's. By 1885, with hundreds of distilleries in Tennessee, Nelson's distillery was selling 2 million bottles each year. While others were still selling bulk whiskey in barrels, Nelson was one of the early sellers of bottled whiskey.
Prohibition came early to Tennessee in 1909, followed in 1920 for the country as a whole. The distillery ceased operations, the equipment was dismantled, and the property sold off. Today, the grain house and a barrel house still stand and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The resurrection of the Nelson brand began in 2006 when father Bill, and brothers Andy and Charlie, visited the historic site in Greenbrier, Tennessee. As they explored the area that was once the largest producer of Tennessee Whiskey in the country, a vision was born. Within 3 years, they began to rebuild the brand that was "in their blood".
Belle Meade products were one of their first introductions. Originally sourcing these from MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, by 2015 they were distilling their own product at their Nashville, Tennessee distillery.
Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey is made from a blend of corn, wheat (instead of the more typical rye) and malted barley (note that other Tennessee whiskey brands - Jack Daniels and Dickel - use rye). Details of the exact proportions are not disclosed. While the mash bill is similar to a traditional wheated bourbon, as a Tennessee whiskey, it is filtered through a mellowing bed of sugar maple charcoal before it's placed in new, charred oak barrels. As a result of the pre-barreling filtration and the flavors added from the charcoal, it cannot be labeled as a bourbon.
It is bottled with a vintage label that looks similar to it's original 1909 label (you can check out the original bottles here on their website). There is no age statement, thought the label does say it has been aged a minimum of 2 years. Rumor has it that the current whiskey is about 4 years old, and was contract distilled and mixed with some 5-6 year-old whiskey from the Nashville location. It is bottled at 91 proof.
Eye: Sunlit amber.
Nose: Vanilla, maple brown sugar oatmeal. Slight pastry-dough-like notes.
Palate: Vanilla and dried fruit, along with some grassy, earthier notes - not like a peated scotch or the very grassy notes from an Irish whiskey. Just some slight hay-grass notes along with a whiff of smoke from the malted barley and charcoal filtering.
Finish: Medium in length, with dry oak, raisin, and spice.
Overall: At $30, this was an interesting find. Hats off to Andy and Charlie for bringing back one of the biggest brands in Tennessee whiskey. It's not the most complicated, but it is different from other Tennessee whiskey brands. This is a great one for slow sipping as you enjoy the outdoors.