Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey
On a Summer day in 2006, Andy and Charlie Nelson were visiting a butcher shop in Greenbrier, TN with their dad Bill. One thing led to another, and soon the three found themselves in the office of the local historical society gazing upon two perfectly preserved bottles of their great-great-great grandfather’s whiskey. After the Civil War, their triple great-grandfather opened a distillery north of Nashville in Greenbrier, TN and went on to produce over 2 million bottles of Tennessee Whiskey each year.
This was the moment the brothers realized their futures lie in making whiskey – specifically to bring back the Tennessee Whiskey that was once the number one selling Tennessee Whiskey in the world. After three years of planning and research, they opened Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in 2009, the one-hundredth anniversary of the closing of their family’s original distillery due to prohibition.
Their first product was Belle Meade Bourbon, which their triple great-grandfather had also produced in the late 1800’s under an agreement with two other families. Belle Meade Bourbon has been very successful for the brothers Nelson, winning numerous awards and accolades, but their goal was always to recreate the original Tennessee Whiskey produced by their triple great-grandfather. After years of research, aided by published accounts written by member of the press, as well as bills-of-lading from orders placed by their triple great-grandfather, they arrived at the recipe for The Original Tennessee Whiskey.
Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey was released to the public in the fall of 2019, one hundred ten years after their family distillery was shuttered by prohibition. It uses a wheated mash bill recipe and is filtered through a bed of sugar maple charcoal after aging in new charred oak barrels. For those of you wondering what separates Tennessee Whiskey from Bourbon, it’s the charcoal filtering process. In order to be Tennessee Whiskey, you must adhere to this filtering process. Otherwise, you just have whiskey.
Soon after the release of Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey, I purchased a bottle. After learning about their fantastic story from multiple sources, how could I not? I simply had to try this Tennessee Whiskey. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I must tell you I am not a big fan of Tennessee Whiskey. At the risk of committing blasphemy – especially for a native Tennessean – I don’t even like the Tennessee Whiskey made by that Gentleman from Lynchburg. I lean more toward Bourbon, and I’ve recently been building a small collection of same. I say small, because my predilection for consuming the items in my collection limits the size of said collection. Well, that and my limited budget.
I am happy to report, however, the Tennessee Whiskey produced by Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is fantastic. In order to be as thorough as possible, I sampled the whiskey both neat and on the rocks (two small cubes). For my incredibly scientific tasting, I used a Glencairn whiskey glass for both tastings.
Here are my tasting notes:
Nose: Warm and sweet with caramel and vanilla
Palate: Sweet and mellow with brown sugar and a touch of vanilla
Finish: Warm at the back of the throat with more brown sugar and perhaps a touch of cherry
The main difference between my neat sample and the rocks sample – other than the heat, of course – was the sweetness. To me, it seemed sweeter on the rocks.
For some reason, I had the urge to try this whiskey with chocolate. After some searching through the pantry, the only chocolate I could find was semi-sweet chocolate chips. My poor chocolate supply notwithstanding, I can report that Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey pairs very well with chocolate. I’m also sure it pairs well with a great many other foods, and I’m looking forward to finding out just which ones. I’m not sure one bottle will do it, though, so I may need to pick up another.
Congratulations to the brothers Nelson. You’ve done an honorable thing and produced a very fine Tennessee Whiskey.
If you would like to read all about Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey and the distillery that makes it, click here.