Nashville Business Journal: Brothers Revive Family Whiskey Business

Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, which opens this weekend in Marathon Village, is nine years in the making, but over 100 years in the waiting.

The original Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, located in Greenbrier, Tenn., dates back to the late 1860s. Opened by Charles Nelson, a German immigrant, the distillery was one of the largest makers of Tennessee Whiskey when it shut down in 1909 due to Tennessee's prohibition law.

It's taken Nelson's longer than whiskey giants Jack Daniel's and George Dickel to re-open, but more than a century later, the great-great-great grandsons of Charles Nelson are reviving the family whiskey business.

Brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson are set to open the doors to the Nelson's Green Brier Distillery this weekend. The 30,000-square-foot production, bottling and tasting facility will be open for tours Tuesday through Sunday. Due to state liquor laws, the bar and tasting room will only be open to people who are on a distillery tour, but an on-site gift shop will be open to the public, where bottled Nelson's Green Brier liquor can be bought (even on Sunday's, thanks to a manufacturing law).

Although the production facility is new, the Nelson's Green Brier brand isn't entirely new to the market. The brothers began producing and packaging their first product, "Belle Meade Bourbon," at out-of-state location a few years back to help build cash flow as they looked to open their own distillery. It also helped them have a market presence, knowing the Tennessee Whiskey recipe they wanted to revive would take several years to age.

The first batch of Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey, which the brothers envision will eventually become their flagship product, was distilled on-site earlier this fall. It's now stored in barrels in the warehouse, where the multi-year aging process will take place. They are ardent supporters, by the way, of keeping the strict definition of Tennessee Whiskey, which requires that the spirit be filtered through maple charcoal prior to aging and then aged in new, charred oak barrels in Tennessee.  READ MORE

Dara CarsonComment