Belle Meade bourbon is perhaps the most well-known whiskey currently coming out of Nelson’s Greenbriar Distillery in Nashville, Tennessee. This storied brand was originally made by Charles Nelson at his Greenbriar Distillery just north of Nashville up until prohibition, when the distillery was forced to close its doors. Nearly 100 years later, the great, great, great grandsons of Charles Nelson revived the distillery in the heart of Nashville and once again started producing one of their flagship products, Belle Meade bourbon.
This reserve bourbon is made from select barrels of whiskey from the single barrel program that were not at a high enough proof for bottling as single barrels. These barrels were then batched in small batches of only 7 barrels and bottled at cask strength. The barrels used for this blend are rumored to be aged anywhere from 7-11 years and typically range from 110-120 proof.
The mash bill for this bourbon has not been disclosed but the distillery has stated that it is made from a proprietary blend of differing mash bills and yeast strains that contain 30% rye based on the original family recipe. The juice in the bottle was distilled by MGP in Indiana, aged for an undisclosed period of time, and then blended and bottled at NGB in Nashville. This is a review of bottle no. 340 from batch no. 19-31, which comes in at 113.6 proof (56.9% abv). This bottle retails for $60.
Appearance – orange amber. Thick slow legs formed in the glass.
Nose – mild ethanol blends with baking spice (mainly cinnamon), plenty of rye spice, vanilla, and a dollop of maple syrup. With time the spices soften and make way for some toasted oak and a few muted notes of dried citrus.
Palate – on the palate, the heat is present but it is restrained by plenty of sweet notes including caramel and raisin. A slight soft spice also develops mid-palate, which really helps balance the surprisingly sweet profile.
Finish – the finish is long and warm, leaving a pleasant mouthfeel, plenty of spice, and a mild alcohol burn. The spice breaks through the sweet notes and ushers in some oak tannins and bitter fruit that lingers pleasantly.
Overall – I am a fan of MGP’s distilling prowess and high-rye bourbon in general, so it is no surprise that I really enjoyed this bourbon. This high-rye whiskey was aged nicely, allowing plenty of rich sweet flavors to blend with the spicier profile and the higher proof. I would have liked to see a little more depth and complexity on the palate, but this is definitely a great bourbon that comes in at a very favorable price point. Not to mention, the story of Nelson’s Greenbriar and their more recent revival is a great one and I can’t wait to get back to Music City to visit the distillery again.