By Richard Thomas
Five months ago, Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery in Nashville gave American whiskey enthusiasts a novelty that checked two special boxes, by coming out with a pair of releases dubbed Nelson’s 108. For starters, this was the first in-house release from the Tennessee micro-distillery, which is noteworthy in and of itself.
Nelson’s 108 is also a revival of the historic distillery’s traditional mashbill, unique in modern American whiskey for making a wheated Tennesse Whiskey. During the summer of 2015, the distillery put its initial production runs into 108 30 gallon barrels. The use of midsized barrels is quite typical among small distillers today, although future releases from Nelson’s Greenbrier will come out of normal American Standard Barrels (53 gallons). What came out was released as two separate labels: a 90 proof Green Label and a single barrel, cask strength Gold Label.
The sample I tried came from barrel number three, and my sample did not indicate what the ABV was. So, it’s a cask strength for sure, but I can’t imagine that the alcohol content dramatically high for reasons that should become clear below.
In the glass, the liquid has a dark amber appearance, while a coat of the glass yields thin legs.
The nose was rich with caramel and aromatically seasoned with cedar, dill and mint, with a nice note of candied palms.
The flavor was seasoned with anise, cinnamon and wood, the latter a mix of cedar and oak, atop a foundation of rich plum wine. From there, the finish departs from an aftertaste of wine and wood.
The Nelson’s 108 Gold Label is a flavorful, promising start for the distillery’s in-house whiskey. The most interesting feature here is that this version is the cask strength one, but it is noticeably less hot than the Green Label. I can really only conceive of two explanations for that: either the samples got mixed up or some barrels in the 108 run were dramatically better than the others.
The single barrel, cask strength version of Nelson’s 108 is priced at $60 for a half -sized bottle. The last time I checked, was still available at the distillery and with some select Tennessee retailers.