Whiskey Review: Belle Meade Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Belle Meade Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve

This whiskey can be seen as a tribute to rediscovering your roots. It turns out the Green Brier Distillery was a very old and a very successful distillery in the late 1800’s. Started by a soap maker named Charles Nelson who immigrated from Germany as a young man, the distillery was the largest Tennessee whiskey producer in 1885 by several times. Shortly after that when Charles passed away, his wife took over the business, a rarity during the era.

Steeped in history, the Green Brier Distillery was one of the many whiskey-producing facilities that fell into disrepair due to Prohibition. 100 years later Charlie and Andy Nelson had brought the business back. In 2006 the Nelson brothers were in Greenbrier, Tennessee, when they found their family’s old distillery grounds and the clear water spring that was used in the original whiskies. They felt they had found their calling, and now they are successfully producing quality spirits under the Green Brier name.

With fundraising and some help from legendary master distiller Dave Pickerell in their first production stages, the Nelson brothers have built a reputable brand. Everyone loves a good story and it appears to be backed by really nice whiskey. The Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve is one of around 10 products available from the downtown Nashville location. It features a 7-cask blend of well-aged, high rye bourbon. This means that around 1000 bottles are probably produced per batch, making it an appealing collection piece. It should be noted that this is not the wheated, charcoal mellowed recipe that made the distillery famous back in the 1880’s. They do make that one, along with a variety of cask finished bourbons and even a coffee caramel pecan liqueur!

Belle Meade Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve

Belle Meade Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve (image via Belle Meade)

Tasting Notes: Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve

Vital Stats: 55% cask strength, 7-11 year bourbon with ‘high rye content,’ $60 for a 750ml

Appearance: Bronze tangerine

Nose: Sweet, buttery banana and caramel with honey syrup. Slight acetone note possibly because of the high proof. Subtle spice.

Palate: Big toasted oak without any ‘burnt’ flavor. Almond, with a spicy buttery balance. It’s kind of like a perfect piece of toast in the amount of structure, balance, and wood. Beautiful, but not overly complex.

The Takeaway

This is a rich, historical whiskey brand. With the Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve, it's obvious that they have a handle on how carry on a tradition of quality. The only reason it doesn't get 4 stars is the price. At the price point, I expect more complexity out of a whiskey. The balance is fantastic, and it is very good even at high proof. Definitely worth a try if you come across it!

3.5
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Cameron Holck

Bartender in Portland, OR.