DSR – TN – 002: Belle Meade Bourbon
Company/Distillery: Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery/MGP Distillery
Location: Nashville, Tennessee/Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Mash Bill: 64% Corn, 30% Rye, 6% Malted Barley
Age Statement: Blend of barrels between 6 to 8 years old
Proof/ABV: 90.4 Proof/45.2% ABV
Color: Honey Gold/Hay or Straw
Purchase Price: $49.95 for 750 ml. NC ABC store in Mocksville
Bottle Label Information:
Neck Label: “Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery”
“Chas. & W.A. Nelson – Proprietors”
Front Label: “Belle Meade Sour Mash Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“Small Batch – Handcrafted”
Back Label: “Belle Meade Plantation – http://www.bellemeadeplantation.com“
“Since 1853 “
“Belle Meade Bourbon is a pre-Prohibition brand originally produced by Charles Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, which shut down due to Prohibition. Charles Nelson’s descendants have proudly resurrected the family business with the reintroduction of this venerable brand. Our classic Belle Meade Bourbon is high rye proprietary blend of four barrels per batch ranging from 6-8 years. It’s never chill-filtered and at 90.4 proof, this bourbon reaches a “sweet spot” that balances the rich, spicy flavor and delivers a depth of character unlike any other you’ve tasted. Charles Nelson built his reputation on quality and craftsmanship, a tradition the Nelson family carries on today.”
“Bottled by Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Nashville, TN”
“Distilled in Lawrenceburg, IN for Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery.”
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery
The Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery was started around the 1860’s by German immigrant Charles Nelson in Greenbrier, Tennessee. In just 25 years, the distillery would produce almost 380,000 gallons, or 2 million bottles, of Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey. Nelson was able to sell his bottle of whiskey from San Francisco, California all the way to Moscow, Russia. Mr. Nelson died on December 13, 1891, bequeathing his distillery to his wife. Mrs. Nelson was able to successfully run the distillery up until Prohibition in 1909, at which point the distillery was closed.
The 2006 revival of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery was actually a coincidence. While visiting a butcher in Greenbrier, Tennessee, brothers Andy and Charles Nelson noticed a historical marker about a distillery bearing their name. A quick trip to the local historical society revealed two original bottles of Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey. In 2009, the family was able to successfully relaunch the Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery.
Today, the Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is home to Nelson’s Green Brier Sour Mash Tennessee Whiskey, Belle Meade Bourbon, and Louisa’s Coffee Caramel Pecan Liqueur.
Explore more of the Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery history on their website.
Belle Meade Bourbon
The story of Belle Meade Bourbon begins in the late 1870’s when Sperry Wade & Company, owners of the famous Belle Meade Plantation horse farm, contracted Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery to produce whiskies for them. As a nod to this rich racing history, the Belle Meade Bourbon labels boast two of the most prized studs that Belle Meade Plantation horse farm has produced. On the right hand side, Bonnie Scotland is showcased. Horses in Bonnie Scotland’s bloodline include champions such as Seabiscuit, Man O’ War, Secretariat, and American Pharaoh. Gracing the left side of the bottle is the horse Brown Dick, also from the Belle Meade Plantation horse farm. Brown Dick himself was never a champion racer, however, he was well versed in other extra curricular activities on the farm.
Belle Meade Sour Mash Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a proprietary blend, sourced from MGP of Indiana, of high rye bourbons aged between 6 and 8 years. The bourbon is made in very small batches of no more than 4 barrels per a batch. In addition to the Belle Meade Straight Bourbon Whiskey of this review, other offerings include Belle Meade Single Barrel, Belle Meade Reserve, Belle Meade XO Cognac Cask Finish, Belle Meade Madeira Cask Finish, and Belle Meade Sherry Cask Finish.
Tasting Date/Vessel: May 4, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass
Christian: The nose begins with a hint of oak and rye spice. This quickly transitioned to an aroma much like freshly brewed sweat tea and raisins. A very attractive nose. Adding water to the pour ramps up the sweetness. Honey and caramel become present with subtle hints of brown sugar.
Mike: Immediately picking up notes of oatmeal and raisins with a subtle hint of fresh sliced apples. As I nose in deeper, I pick up ethanol that is subdued by traces of brown sugar and cinnamon covered apples. A very satisfying and fruity nose. The addition of water enhances the apple aromas.
Christian: Mouth feel is very light and slightly oily. Detected tastes of citrus fruits and allspice – a very refreshing glass. As the bourbon moved back toward mid-palate, the taste of leather became more apparent. Addition of water softens the mouth feel a bit. Really added sweetness as a flavor profile of oatmeal raisin cookies developed.
Mike: This is very light and thin on the tongue. There is a floral sweetness with just a whisper of honey that lingers softly before a warm cidery-like tingle takes over. The addition of water softens and sweetens the overall flavors.
Christian: Long finish, however extremely smooth. No burn was present on this one. Hint of sweetness comes through at the end. Also present is a light taste of melon, like honeydew or cantaloupe, in the finish. Again, unbelievable refreshing for a bourbon. Adding water did not change the long smooth finish or flavor profile of this bourbon.
Mike: The finish is long and smooth with a fresh white pepper kick in the throat. Cinnamon, cloves, and allspice linger in the back of my mouth. The addition of water shortens and smooths the finish slightly.
Christian: This is a very good bourbon. Smooth in the mouth and finish with pleasant enjoyable flavors. I really enjoyed the hint of melon I detected in the pour. Today was one of the hottest we have had so far in 2020 and perhaps that influenced what I was tasting. However, this bourbon somehow came off as refreshing, even on a hot day. The price point of $50 seems reasonable for the quality. I will have no problem purchasing and keeping a supply of this offering from Belle Meade. Fantastic!
Rating: 3.5 Rickhouses
Mike: This Belle Meade is very smooth and satisfying. The mouth and finish evokes a gratifying essence of holiday baking; the aroma of pies and cookies at Thanksgiving or Christmas that fills your grandmother’s kitchen. This is holiday nostalgia in a bottle and with an MSRP of $50, it is a fair price point. This sips a little hot, which I like, but comes in only at 90.4 Proof. This is definitely a bottle I will keep stocked in my bar.
Rating: 3.5 Rickhouses
Conclusion: Both Mike and I really enjoyed this bourbon. In fact, we absolutely crushed this bottle during the tasting then again a few days later. You just want to keep going back for more. Price is not a barrier for either of us because the flavors are absolutely unparalleled. We know that the idea of a sourced product sends shivers up the spine of some connoisseurs, but this is a damn good product. We would recommend you get over your misgivings and give this stellar bourbon a try.