Review: Nelson’s “Green Brier” Tennessee Whiskey

DSR – TN – 011: Nelson’s “Green Brier” Tennessee Whiskey

Company/Distillery: Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Mash Bill: Corn, Wheat, Malted Barley

Age Statement: A Minimum of 2 Years

Proof/ABV: 91 Proof/45.5% ABV

Color & Viscosity: Nelson’s “Green Brier” Tennessee Whiskey is light tawny in color in the bottle. The whiskey presents chestnut to russet in color in the tasting vessel. This whiskey has a thin appearance sitting in the glass. The viscous line is sharp and slender. Legs develop as beads then slide effortlessly down to the bottom of the tasting vessel.

Purchase Price: About $30 at the Liquor Barn in Kentucky; 750 ml

Bottle Label Information:

Front Label

“Nelson’s ‘Green Brier’ Tennessee Whiskey”

“Hand Made Sour Mash”

“Chas. & W. A. Nelson”

“Tennessee Whiskey”

Back Label

“When our great-great-great-grandfather, Charles Nelson, introduced Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey to the public in 1860, he could never have imagined how popular his creation would become – or that his process would set the standard by which all future Tennessee Whiskeys were judged. With our revival of Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey, we’ve painstakingly recreated the family recipe: the finest ingredients, filtered through a mellowing bed of sugar maple charcoal, and aged a minimum of two years in new charred oak barrels. We believe it’s time the 21st century got to know the Original Tennessee Whiskey, and we hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait. Welcome Back! “

“For more of our history, visit:

“Produced and Bottled by Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Nashville, TN”

Distillery Background

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 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.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: November 19, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a splash of distilled water.


Christian: In the bottle, Nelson’s “Green Brier” Tennessee Whiskey emits copious amounts of sweet brown sugar and rich fresh tobacco. In my Glencairn glass, the whiskey is unbelievably sweet on the nose with hints of vanilla buttercream icing. I don’t know if this is possible, but the whiskey actually smells creamy to me. A gentle swirl in the glass and return to the nose unleashes a vanilla bomb. This is joined by a gentle touch of sweet cornbread and just a tinge of discernible baking spices. When I added a couple of drops of distilled water I was surprised to find a floral note added to the already sweet nose. The nose keeps a generous portion of the vanilla flavors while taking on touch of burnt brown sugar and simple syrup.

Mike: From the bottle, I get subtle notes of corn and green oak. There is a hint of grilled corn in the husk that pops out of the neck of the bottle. From the Glencarin glass, I get soft notes of sweet corn. A gentle swirl of the whiskey produces an indulgent vestige of sweet whipped cream and birthday cake batter. As the bourbon comes to rest, I observe a tinge of baked apples dusted with cinnamon. 


Christian: The mouth feel on this Tennessee whiskey is thin and delicate. On the tip of my tongue this whiskey is not nearly as sweet or creamy as expected, given the nose. Freshly made bread dough, vanilla bean, and roasted corn are all present in this pour. A second pass brings a flavor profile that reminds me a bit of Corn Flakes cereal. The distilled water really takes any body this whiskey had and waters it down. Vanilla and corn now win the day with little else sneaking through on the palate.

Mike: This Tennessee whiskey from Nelson’s “Green Brier” is thin with a delicate, creamy mouthfeel. Vanilla pudding and/or wafer cookies hit the front of the palate delicately. Apple and baking spices emerge mid-palate and move front to back as muted tones of leather and tobacco settle in late.  


Christian: Nelson’s “Green Brier” Tennessee Whiskey offers a short to medium finish that has a very soft hug. This is the first point I notice the sugar maple charcoal’s impact on the taste profile. Overall, I am still getting a significant amount of corn and vanilla. In the finish, well after the spirit is gone from my mouth, I begin to detect a touch of the baking spices, oak barrel bitterness, and just a smidgen of green peanuts, or perhaps even green hay. The addition of distilled water numbs the finish and significantly mutes any of the flavors present. Corn, oak, and baking spice are there but very light.

Mike: This whiskey offers a moderate and delicate finish that offers an appealing sweet curing tobacco flavor. Trivial and short but a pleasant overall offering with a gentle corn sweetness that lingers.  

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: I was looking forward to trying Nelson’s “Green Brier” Tennessee Whiskey for a myriad of reasons – one of which is the fantastic labeling, reminding me of early whiskey marketing. We also thoroughly enjoyed the Belle Meade line produced by this distillery as well. Nelson’s “Green Brier” is distilled in-house by the distillery and is a solid start for the company! Right off the bat, this whiskey begins with an attractive nose that is inviting and practically begs you to take a sip. The mouth is young, which is not unexpected. This sippable whiskey offers a smooth finish and light flavors that would be appreciated by new whiskey drinkers, trying to get into the spirit. For me, I think that is the knock. This whiskey is unbelievably smooth and a bit light, which leaves me wanting more. I want more robust flavors and a little more heat, which I believe more time in the barrel would bring to the party. The best news is that priced at $30 or just below, I don’t mind buying a bottle occasionally to enjoy neat for an easy sip!

Rating: 2.85 Rickhouses

Mike: There are a few things I like about this whiskey but nothing particular stands out and wows me. The minimal range of flavors from nose, to mouth, to finish are all muted. I think this has potential to be a solid whiskey, it just needs additional aging. 

Rating: 2.875 Rickhouses


2 thoughts on “Review: Nelson’s “Green Brier” Tennessee Whiskey

  1. My tasting notes…looks, smells and tastes like whiskey. I like it. Better than Jack you ask ? Yes because everything is better than Jack. Better that George Dickel ? Hell no. Dickel # 12 is the Gold Standard by which all others are judged.

    1. I am in south Mississippi and I am no longer able to get Belle Meade, which to me is ethereal. I bought some of the Nelson Sour Mash which is not in comparison. Hot, harsh, not very complex taste and a poor finish. This is my opinion and generally my comment is a hopeful cry for Belle Meade’s return. I will try the other Nelson Whisky’s as I find them, hoping one is similar to my stellar favorite. I think Nelson can make great stuff, to me Sour Mash a big miss

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