Andy and Charlie Nelson had no idea their destiny would forever change when their father, Bill Nelson, invited them to see a butcher in Greenbrier, TN. Charlie remembers stopping at a Citgo gas station and seeing a sign for Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. They thought the family-owned distillery created by their great-great-great grandfather, Charles Nelson, was lost and gone forever. Though little was left of the old distillery, it was enough to encourage Andy and Charlie to rediscover and revitalize the family’s legendary brand, which was once the world’s most popular Tennessee whiskey. As of Sunday, November 23, 2014, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is ready, once again, to be enjoyed by whiskey lovers from around the globe.
Interesting Historical Facts
- Before owning the distillery, Charles Nelson owned a grocery store on 2nd Avenue (which is now McFadden’s). His hottest selling products were whiskey, coffee and meat. When Nelson decided to focus strictly on the whiskey production, he encouraged his coffee delivery boy, Joel Cheek, to take the coffee blend and make a business out of it. Joel went up the street to the Maxwell House Hotel, where it became a hit and eventually a household name. Nelson’s butcher, H.G. Hill, continued the meat production on his own. Today, H.G. Hill is one of the most well-known names in Nashville.
- Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery was the fifth registered distillery in the fifth tax district, which lead to the nickname “Old Number 5.”
- In 1885, Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey was more popular than Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Nelson sold 380,000 gallons of whiskey that year, while Daniel only sold 23,000 gallons. Nelson’s Tennessee Whiskey was the world’s top-selling Tennessee Whiskey.
- Nelson was one of the first to bottle and sell whiskey. Most whiskey at the time was only sold by the jug or the barrel.
- Nelson had over 30 different labels, including whiskey, brandy, and even gin.
- Unlike almost all other Tennessee whiskey, most of Nelson’s whiskey recipes use wheat instead of rye.
- When Charles passed away in 1891, his wife, Louisa, took over the distillery, making her one of the first and only women to ever run a distillery.
- Instead of taking operations underground, Louisa decided to discontinue production during rise of Tennessee prohibition in 1909. The whiskey never got resurrected — until now.
Green Brier Distillery & Whiskey Today
Thanks to nine years of hard work by Andy and Charlie, Charles Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery and whiskey lives on. After 105 years, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is reopening its doors in Nashville on Sunday, November 23, 2014. The new Green Brier Distillery is located in Marathon Village at 1414 Clinton Street.
Andy and Charlie got some incredible training from Dave Pickerell, who was the master distiller at Maker’s Mark for 14 years. If you’ve had Belle Meade Bourbon, which has been available for many years, then you’re already familiar with some of Nelson’s Tennessee Whiskey. It was originally produced by Charles Nelson in conjunction with Sperry, Wade & Co. prior to American Prohibition era. In addition to Belle Meade Bourbon, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery also has the Tennessee White Whiskey, which is made according to original 100-year-old recipe. Many more labels will come as the whiskey ages.
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery – Tours & Contact Information
You can tour and taste whiskey samples 6 days a week at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. Tours are on the hour every hour from 12pm to 6pm Tuesday through Sunday. It’s a great opportunity to hear about the distillery’s history and taste what’s coming from the barrels. The tour and tasting is $5 per person. ID is required for tastings.
- Phone: (615) 913-8800
- Address: 1414 Clinton Street Nashville, TN 37203 (map)
- Tour & Tasting Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 12pm to 6pm (closed on Mondays). Tours available at the top of the hour every hour.
- Retail & Bottle Shop Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 11am to 7pm (closed Mondays)
To learn more about Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, visit their official website.