By Richard Thomas
These days in America, micro-distilleries with a nostalgic story of a family reviving their whiskey-laden legacy are a dime a dozen. Some of these tales are mere marketing buzz, but some are authentic both in the people and the legacy, and one of the latter is Nelson’s Greenbrier in Tennessee. The historic Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery was real, and a major contender in Tennessee’s pre-Prohibition (The Volunteer State went dry in 1909) whiskey industry. The modern Nelsons are indeed descendants of the whiskey-making Nelsons of old.
While not lacking in an authentic yarn to tell, what the Nelsons do not have at present is their own aged whiskey to sell. Following a well-trodden path among micro-distilleries, their aged products are currently sourced, and their in-house product is a white whiskey.
Made with a wheated bourbon mashbill and bottled at 91 proof, Nelson’s Greenbrier White Whiskey is quite viscous in the glass, with slow, heavy legs.
As one often expects from bourbon new make, the nose is grainy and grassy, but also fruitcake sweet, the latter point showing the wheated side of the spirit. I also found the nosing surprisingly soft and mellow. Usually the grainy side of new makes come off as scratchy to my nose, but that wasn’t the case here.
The flavor is sweet on the top, with a current of hot cinnamon spice running through it and a layer of that grainy grassiness underneath. The finish rolls out on a corn husk note, and develops a surprisingly, if slightly, ashy aftertaste before leaving a tingly coat. It’s clear, smooth, and makes for very pleasant summertime drinking in my book.
This whiskey is usually listed for about $20 to $25, and comes in a 375 ml bottle.