Review: Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey

Review: Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey

It is no small thing for a craft whiskey distillery to release its own, house-made whiskey, and because whiskey takes valuable time to produce, often years of barrel aging, it’s a stressful waiting game. Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery has been waiting since 2014 for that moment. In the meantime, they’ve released a successful line of sourced bourbons under the Belle Meade label that have included several unique finishes and blends showcasing plenty of creativity and skill. Still, all of that has been building up to the launch of the original family brand, Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey. I’ll let them tell their story.

After Prohibition forced the 1909 closure of one of the nation’s most prolific whiskey producers – in fact, the largest distillery in Tennessee – two direct descendants of its pioneering founder, Charles Nelson, threw open the doors in 2014 to their revived Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Nashville, Tennessee. As co-proprietors, these two brothers, Charlie and Andy Nelson, have launched several award-winning small batch spirits, but come this October 2019, they will release one of their most coveted yet, Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey. It is an authentic Tennessee Whiskey created according to the 110-year-old recipe of their ancestor’s initial bottled whiskey. It is their first spirit to be produced from start to finish in the present Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. Spotlighting the Prohibition-era fall and modern-day rise of this great American distilling family spanning five generations, it’s a story of resurrection that parallels the current interest in craft spirits.

The limited release of Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey honors the Nelson family heritage with the rebirth of the original family recipe that swept markets across the world in the late 1800s. After a decade of determination and dedication, this pedigreed whiskey has been produced in fifty-three-gallon barrels – yielding approximately a few thousand cases. It has been aged between 2-5 years, bottled at 91-proof. For the initial twelve months of its release, it will be available only in liquor stores, bars, and restaurants across Nashville, TN; thereafter, it will be stocked throughout the United States in summer of 2020.

“We’ve had this recipe in our family for more than 100 years, so we were determined to adhere to its strictest specifications in re-creating the whiskey of our great-great-great grandfather,” says Andy Nelson, Chief Operating Officer.  “Our commitment to detail and quality extends to the filigree of the hand-designed label, whose ivy-draped logo hails to the brand’s founding design.” Andy’s brother, Charlie Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, adds, “The heart and soul of our brand lies in Tennessee, which is why we are incredibly proud to be bringing back this historic label here in Nashville to our friends, family, and neighbors.”

The effort and the product are a loving homage to Charles Nelson, the German immigrant who put Tennessee Whiskey on the map with the designation of DSP-TN-5, the 5th registered distillery in the state of Tennessee. Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey proudly upholds the original recipe, filtering, and distillation process that set the industry standard by which all Tennessee whiskeys are measured, and propelled Nelson’s Green Brier. With numerous awards already in its second incarnation, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is back!

Only 110 years in the making, so there’s clearly no pressure on this bottle. Let’s dive in!

The nose on this whiskey is huge. Big earthy notes of woodshop, cigar box, and incense are balanced against sweeter oolong tea, orchard fruit, and Snickers bar. There’s only the slightest hint of youth with a bit of creamed corn, but all-in-all it is complex and balanced and just downright fun to nose for an unnecessarily long period of time. It’s thick on the palate, syrupy and mouthcoating. There’s rich toffee, Graham cracker, and toasted marshmallow with plenty of baking spice, cinnamon apples, and sweet pepper. It gets earthier into the mid-palate with campfire, clove, and maple frosting. The finish is long with wood smoke, vanilla ice cream, and a bit of chocolate sauce.

I think the original Charles Nelson would be pretty proud. Probably time for a trip to Nashville, folks.

91 proof.

A / $30 /

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Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.


  1. Tim B on November 17, 2019 at 7:35 am

    It’s a very tasty spirit. Smooth taste. I have enjoyed every drop. Good job guys! Keep it up.

  2. Dan'l on March 20, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    I must have received an off bottle, because mine is nothing like what is described here and I would rate it about a 6 out of 10.

  3. Brian R Williams on April 11, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    At first tastings, I wasn’t sure it was my style. I later realized I really liked it a lot as a sipper. I would definitely buy again.

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