Belle Meade Bourbon Review

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By Jake Emen

Rating: B

Belle Meade Bourbon

Belle Meade Bourbon from Nelson’s Green Brier company
(Credit: Nelson’s Green Brier)

In 1909 Charles Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery had its doors shuttered due to Prohibition being enacted in the state of Tennessee, beating the national movement by just over a decade. By that time Nelson’s wife Louisa had been in control of Green Brier for nearly two decades, following his passing in 1891. A century after its closure, a few later family members are grabbing the reins.

Enter descendants Andy and Charlie, Charles and Louisa’s great-great-great grandchildren, who are bringing the family name back into the whiskey business after first delving into the family’s background circa 2006. This is by no means the revival of a small-time mom-and-pop 19th Century distilling operation, either. In a time when names like Jack Daniel’s were but fledgling in comparison, Green Brier’s production peaked at nearly 380,000 gallons in 1885.

The new Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery opens this November in Nashville, and thereafter the brothers will be distilling their own stuff. In the meantime, they’ve been getting that historical story out and rebuilding some brand recognition with this sourced bourbon. While whiskey fans may be a bit wearisome of purported historical legends these days, it’s important to note that Green Brier checks out, so much so that the old distillery site in Robertson County is a National Historic Place.

The Bourbon
Belle Meade is a high-rye bourbon with an aggregate mash bill of 64% corn, 30% rye and 6% malted barley, and it’s openly-acknowledged as sourced from MGP, blended in tiny, four-barrel batches from three different source spirits which feature two mash bills and two yeast strains.

Belle Meade Bourbon, bottled at 90.4% ABV, is golden-amber in the glass. On the nose, there’s plenty of vanilla at the front, with some caramel. There’s a bit of sharp spiciness which reveals that high-rye mash bill. There’s also a touch of more complexity with light floral and citrus notes. On the palate, there’s oak, molasses, more vanilla, and more spice. There’s a modest burn on a quick finish.

Add an ice cube, and Belle Meade develops more robust sweetness, with caramel coming out front with charred molasses. The finish disappears entirely but spice still provides the final note.

All told, Belle Meade is an enjoyable bourbon entrant but needs a bit of refining to develop a more complete flavor profile. As for Green Brier Distillery, hopefully the family passion and legacy get the brothers moving in the right direction once they’re in charge from start to finish. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with.

The Price
Belle Meade Bourbon can be found at online retailers for about $40 for a 750 ml bottle. Right now, it has scattered distribution across the U.S., found locally in about a dozen states.

 

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6 comments

  1. Hi I visited belle Meade 3yrs ago from Northern Ireland beautiful place I was just wondering if there was anyway I could buy a bottle of your whiskey thanks

  2. I like this bourbon, is there something similar with a higher rating????

    • B is equivalent to 3 1/2 stars, so it’s pretty solid. To find examples of higher scoring bourbon, go to the Whiskey Review index and click the “A Grade” link in the guide at the top.

  3. I finished this bourbon recently and am working on the Sherrie Cask now. This bourbon is nice ($40 is the most I would pay for it) and from the perspective of my palette, it may be sourced from Willet. I tasted notes from the Pot Still Reserve for what it’s worth. I would buy it again.

  4. After reading about BM I went out to buy some, only to find in my state they cannot. So I invested in a phone call to them. There to I found they couldn’t because of the state I live in. By that time I gave and disappointed that I couldn’t buy some. That winter I went down to Florida with my wife for our one month stay. When going to a liquor store, I found that they sold it. I bought some and I was glad I did after this long awaited try. Their BM is a very good bourbon. What ever you have read about this bourbon is true and then some. This bourbon to me is a very good bourbon that will have you coming back for more and with other bourbons I’ve had that rarely happened. The only bad thing I find bad about this bourbon is that I can’t buy it in my state.

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