Though Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery’s current incarnation has only been in business since 2009, the company’s history is as rich and potent as any spirit on the market.
Born in 1860, when its founder, Charles Nelson, unveiled a product (and, unwittingly, a category) called Tennessee Whiskey, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery spent nearly 40 years as the premier purveyor of whiskey and spirits in the US. At peak, NGBD produced 380,000 gallons (about 2 million bottles) of more than 30 brands of rye whiskey, bourbon, corn whiskey, and other products per year—more than 15 times the production capacity of its average competitor. The distillery closed in 1909, when Prohibition became Tennessee state law, a decade before a Constitutional amendment made it a federal one, too.
A century later, Nelson’s great-great-great grandsons, Andy and Charlie Nelson, revived the family business, inspired by Charles’s remarkable life and work. They built a spacious HQ in Nashville’s Marathon Village, and quickly established their bona fides in the fiercely competitive worlds of craft liquor and local tourism.
The signature triumph of NGBD 2.0’s first decade been the award-winning line of spicy, small-batch Belle Meade Bourbon: Classic, Cask Strength Single Barrel, Cask Strength Reserve, and the Special Cask Finish and Craftsman Cask Collections.
The Nelson brothers’ overarching ambition was the resurrection of what they took to calling “The Original Tennessee Whiskey.” The dream came true in 2019, when bottles of Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey, meticulously recreated from the original 1860 recipe and process, went on sale in Nashville for the first time since 1909. The roll-out continues regionally and nationally.
Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey received a gold medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
On May 2, 2019, Constellation acquired majority stake in Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, recognizing the quality of these craft spirits.