Whiskey Review: Belle Meade Straight Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Belle Meade Straight Bourbon

By Will Meek / November 16, 2016
Belle Meade Straight Bourbon

image via Will Meek/The Whiskey Wash

Editor’s Note: A sample of this bourbon was provided to us by those behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, keeps full independent editorial control over this article.

If you drank whiskey in the 1800s, you probably had a pour of Nelson’s Hand Made Sour Mash Whiskey. The whole thing began in 1850 when 15 year-old Charles Nelson immigrated to the States with his family from northern Germany. By the time he was in his early twenties, he set up a grocery store in Tennessee that developed a reputation for coffee, meat, and bourbon, the three staples of every whiskey enthusiast’s diet. The whiskey sales were so swift that he went into production a few years later. It was ultimately a huge success. By 1885, the original Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery produced 380,000 gallons of the stuff annually, and distributed from Paris to San Francisco.

Tennessee’s prohibition law shut it all down by 1909, and it’s wasn’t until 2006 that Charles Nelson’s great-great-great-great-great-great (actually only great-great-great) grandsons were inspired to get operation fired back up after running into people who knew that story. Brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson are those grandsons. In 2009 they formed the business, and in 2015 they opened distilling operations in Nashville.

However, the bourbon sitting before me is a bit different than the original, which is coming sometime in the future after more aging. The current product is actually distilled by MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and then aged between 6-8 years in Tennessee at Green Brier. Second, the product is a blend of four barrels that used different grain bills and also two different yeast strains. There are additional finishes they release as well, and we reviewed the Cognac version here.

Tasting Notes: Belle Meade Straight Bourbon

Stats: No age statement, 90.4 proof, 30% rye, $40 for 750ml.

Appearance: Genuine gold, medium and fast legs.

Nose: There are notes of oak, navel oranges, saw dust, and walnuts, with a noticeable heat. Very bright.

Palate: In the mouth neat, I first notice a significant burn and rye spice. The mouthfeel is somewhat harsh and astringent, and that combined with the heat make specific flavors difficult to pull out. Finishes warm and snappy, a bit watery, and the slightest hint of charcoal.

A couple drops of water really expand the nose and brings vanilla bean forward. On the tongue it is more relaxed but still prickly, woody with notes of buttered bread. The finish is drying with a longer burn.

A splash for water keeps the vanilla bean and adds pencil eraser and a lighter caramel while removing the heat. The palate is a bit thin and flavor more contained, with some cereal notes, and light caramel sweetness. Finish still fast and snappy, but much less heat.

Final Thoughts & Score/Buy A Bottle:

Score: 82/100

Buy NowOn first pass I had a positive impression of this whiskey, especially with a couple drops of water to open it up. After spending some time with it and looking closer, I was a bit underwhelmed. It’s hot even for 90 proof, and there isn’t much to remember it by on the palate. For the price you can do better, but if you are looking for a high rye with some bite, versatility, and a good story, it’s a reasonable choice.


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