Whisky Informative: Brothers Re-launch Family 19th-Century Distilling Business

One hundred and five years after Prohibition forced the closure of one of the nation’s most prolific whiskey producers, two young descendants of its pioneering founder will throw open the doors to their revived Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The new site of the old brand is in the lively Marathon Village, an historic automobile factory now housing many of the city’s creative enterprises.

Officially opening on Tuesday, November 25, 2014, Nelson brothers Andy and Charlie, known for their award-winning Belle Meade Bourbon, will greet the public with drinkable spirits and tours of their very own [after almost a decade of determination] new distillery as they launch the second wave of their historic family venture, originated by their great-great-great grandfather Charles Nelson in the late 1800s.

Within the lofty industrial building anchoring one end of Marathon Village, the barrel staves in a wicker-woven style pattern cover the interior wall that captures the purposeful essence of the space. A handsome oak-paneled tasting room features an ample bar serving half-ounce samples of the spirits produced on the premises. A long, live-edge walnut counter offers a view into the heart of the distillery: gleaming stainless steel vats, grain bins, miles of pipe, and the centerpiece, a custom crafted copper pot-bellied still, affectionately known as “Miss Louisa” — after Charles’s wife who ran the business after his death.

For those who want a closer look at these nuts and bolts of the distilling process, the Nelson brothers will be offering tours for $5 with a tasting (21+) of one of their three products: Belle Meade Bourbon, Belle Meade Bourbon Sherry Cask Finish, and Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee White Whiskey. The products themselves will be available in the gift shop, along with custom logoed apparel. In a few short months, a private event space will overlook the barrel storage area, where thousands of gallons of small-batch bourbons and whiskies rest comfortably in hand-stamped white oak barrels until ready for bottling and shipment to the laundry list of takers across the country waiting to stock their bars with their customized selection of liquid gold.

The Nelsons’ fifth generation grandfather Charles, a German immigrant, built the original venture in the late 19th century — to such success, that Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery was out-producing other well known brands by ten-to-one, before state-wide Prohibition shut it all down in 1909.  The whiskey connection had been all but lost to family lore when Charlie and Andy stumbled across it as young adults [barely of legal drinking age!] and knew they had found their calling. With the energy and drive of their immigrant forebear, the brothers have spent the better part of the last decade reviving the brand and building a distillery worthy of the original family enterprise.