Nashville Lifestyles: Family Brand Brought Back to Life

Almost as soon as Nashville brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson discovered the site of the old Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, they started to enact a plan to bring their family’s legacy as distillers out of mothballs and into the modern age. Closed since Prohibition, Nelson’s Green Brier had fallen from memory, despite being one of the dominant producers of Tennessee whiskey during the late 1800s and early 20th century.

The Nelsons recognized that there would be several steps along the way to ramping up to full-time production. Because most people prefer their whiskey with a little age on it, the Nelsons began by purchasing barrels from another distiller and then blending multiple recipes into a signature Belle Meade Bourbon product. Belle Meade Bourbon earned fans across the country, and the Nelsons’ reputation as talented blenders and finishers of whiskey began to spread.

Next, they experimented with special cask finishes, moving their bourbon from its original new oak barrels to previously used European sherry, cognac, and madeira casks. The nuanced products won awards at a number of spirits competitions. From there, it was time to start producing their Tennessee whiskey in-house at the Marathon Village facility, which opened in 2014.

They release some of their distillate in small bottles as a “white” whiskey, unaged and clear as water, offering a taste of the same raw material that they had also started barreling to age. Bold and spicy, the unaged version is best suited as an ingredient in cocktails. But what’s been aging—the first batches went into smaller, 30-gallon barrels; the rest has been going into traditional 53-gallon casks—is finally ready to be released.  READ MORE