Tennessee Whiskey Trail – Part 2

We recently began the “arduous” task of completing the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. We are in the early stages of our journey, but as someone once said, “getting there is considerably more than half the fun.” That is especially the case with this journey.

Part 2 of the TWT wasn’t nearly as involved as Part 1. No out-of-town travel was involved. We visited Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery right here in Nashville. It was so much fun, Michelle and I went back recently – on a whim – just to have a drink. Regular readers of this page may remember that name, as I previously did a review of their excellent Tennessee Whiskey. You can read that post by clicking here.

Until recently, many of us had likely never heard of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, but it actually began back in the 1860s. I won’t go into the details here, because that is not the purpose of this post, but suffice it to say, it was once one of the – if not THE – best selling whiskies in America. In fact, in 1885, Mr. Nelson sold over 380,000 gallons of whiskey. That’s more than 10x the maximum production of other well-known brands.

Statewide prohibition in 1909 caused the closure of the distillery, and closed it stayed until 2009 (100 years!), when Charlie and Andy Nelson, the great-great-great grandsons of founder Charles Nelson, formed a company to reopen the family distillery. It’s a fascinating story, and you can read about it by clicking here.

Due to continuing Covid restrictions, a tour of the production facility was not available. We did, however, enjoy an excellent tasting of four of their whiskies. We were also able to visit the gift shop and pick up some merch, as well as some bourbon. Along with the tasting, we were treated to a history lesson on the origins of the distillery, some of which I referenced above, and all of which you can read on their website. There’s nothing like immersive history lessons, however, so please go to the distillery and immerse yourself in their story – and whiskey (remember to drink responsibly!).

Our tasting began with their original whiskey, Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Hand Made Sour Mash Whiskey. This is the Original Tennessee Whiskey. The mash bill includes corn, wheat, and malted barley. It is filtered through sugar maple charcoal, as almost every Tennessee Whiskey is required to do, then aged in new charred oak barrels. When tasting, you’ll feel the warmth, but it’s not hot. It has a full body with hints of caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple. The flavor lingers, and you’ll find your second and third sips even more enjoyable.

Next up was their Belle Meade Bourbon. This bourbon was one of many products made by Mr. Nelson in the late 1800s. It was originally made for a third party, and like all their other spirits, production came to a screeching halt with the advent of prohibition in 1909. When working to get their “new” distillery up and running, Andy and Charlie needed a product to create revenue and act as proof to their potential investors that they could make it in the whiskey business. Thus, the decision was made to bring back a version of Belle Meade Bourbon. It was a huge success and helped the distillery get its restart.

The mash bill is corn, rye, and malted barley. It too is aged in new charred oak barrels. You should notice caramel, maple syrup, cinnamon, and some zestiness from the rye. It’s excellent bourbon worthy of anyone’s collection.

Our third tasting was Belle Meade Bourbon Reserve. The Reserve is a high-proof bourbon, the barrels for which are selected from the Belle Meade inventory after being identified as superior. They are then combined into small batches to create a richer, more robust flavor. The mash bill is corn, rye, and malted barley. The tasting notes include vanilla, caramel, rye, cinnamon, and stone fruits. It was my favorite whiskey of our tasting. I liked it so much, I bought a bottle.

Nelson’s offers a Single Barrel Bourbon, but I have yet to taste it. Sounds like a good goal and a reason for a return visit!

Our final tasting of the evening (as part of our official “tasting”, anyway) was a dessert liqueur called Louisa’s Liqueur. It’s both vegan and gluten free, and it is flavored with natural extracts of coffee, caramel, and pecan. It is absolutely fantastic – and the perfect finale for a whiskey tasting. A bottle now rests in my liquor cabinet. You should have one in yours, too.

On our recent return visit, Michelle ordered a frozen whiskey apple cider drink (sorry, I don’t recall the official name of the drink), which is made with apple, cinnamon, Allspice, lemon bitters, and whiskey. Yes, they have a bar at which you can order tasting flights and limited cocktails (made with their whiskey, of course). She let me taste her drink, and it is really special. I’m not a big apple cider guy, but this drink was 100% awesome. It’s only available for a limited time, so I suggest you visit soon.

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is located in Marathon Village at 1414 Clinton Street, Nashville, TN 37203.

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