May 2019: Belle Meade Bourbon

Our May 2019 Tasting Event featured the Belle Meade brand.

Belle Meade

Belle Meade is best-known for its bourbon line, which it sources from MGP. However, it has a long history of distilling whiskey in Tennessee, that was recently revived.

Belle Meade comes from Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Nashville, Tennessee. It launched in 2011 after the great-great-grandsons of Charles Nelson brought back to life the once booming distillery.

Charles Nelson immigrated to the U.S. from Germany when he was a teenager. As a young adult, he opened a grocery, and later a distillery, in Tennessee. From 1867 to 1909, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery distilled whiskey that was sold around the country under the label “Nelson’s Best.”

Then, Prohibition was enacted, shuttering the distillery. In 2011, Charlie and Andy Nelson, re-launched their great-grant-grandfather’s brand. In 2013, they began bottling whiskey under the label “Belle Meade Bourbon.” In 2016, Constellation Brands purchased a minority stake in the company. And in 2019, Constellation expanded that into a majority stake. 

Belle Meade Bourbon is sourced from MGP, but the company does distill whiskey of its own. Currently, two Tennessee whiskies are available at the distillery. Both utilize the Lincoln County Process and substitute wheat for rye as the secondary grain.

Our tasting featured several expressions of Belle Meade Bourbon, including some finished in casks previously filled with sherry and cognac.

Cocktail: The Third Man

Belle Meade

1½ oz. Belle Meade Bourbon

1 oz. grapefruit juice

¾ oz. lemon juice

¾ oz. Campari

½ oz. simple syrup

Bottle 1: Belle Meade Straight Bourbon 

Belle Meade

 

Proof: 90.4

Mash Bill: 64% corn, 30% rye and 6% malted barley.

Price: $50

Purchase location: Spec’s Houston

Tasting Notes: 

Nose: A strawberry and floral mixture; banana custard; hay; Chex-Mix; some citrus zest.

Palate: Rye-forward; some dried apricot; caramel and vanilla.

Finish: Punches above its proof with a medium-long finish and chewy texture; cherry; caramel; rye spice.

Why this bottle is featured: High-rye content (30% rye). Small Batch – 4 barrels per batch. A proprietary blend of barrels aged 6-8 years. Non chill-filtered.

 

Bottle 2: Belle Meade Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve

 

Belle Meade

Proof: 117.9

Mash Bill: 64% corn, 30% rye and 6% malted barley.

Price: $61

Purchase location: Spec’s Houston

Tasting Notes: 

Nose: Rich; beef broth; herbal and floral; wet barnyard.

Palate: Tart blackberry; Rice Krispy Treats; some stone fruit.

Finish: Beefy; vanilla; blackberry.

Why this bottle is featured: Whiskey Advocate Top 10 in 2018. Bottled at Cask Strength, Small batch: 7 barrels. Barrels aged 7 – 11 years. Non chill-filtered.

 

Bottle 3: Belle Meade Bourbon Sherry Cask Finish

Belle Meade

Proof: 90.4

Mash Bill: 64% corn, 30% rye and 6% malted barley.

Price: $84

Purchase location: Spec’s Houston

Tasting Notes: 

Nose: Sherry funk; caramel; cherry; vanilla; raspberries; milk chocolate.

Palate: red licorice; leather; rye spice.

Finish: Short; leather; some nutty vanilla and cocoa.

Why this bottle is featured: A proprietary blend of Bourbon no less than 9 years old, rested in used Oloroso Sherry casks to finish. Non chill-filtered. Best Special Barrel Finish Bourbon, 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

 

Bottle 4: Belle Meade Bourbon Madeira Cask Finish

Belle Meade

Proof: 90.4

Mash Bill: 64% corn, 30% rye and 6% malted barley.

Price: $84

Purchase location: Spec’s Houston

Tasting Notes: 

Nose: Crème brûlée; blackberry; salted mixed nuts; graham cracker. 

Palate: Stewed apples; black cherry; some baking spice.

Finish: Some milk chocolate and toffee; red apple skin; rye spice.

Why this bottle is featured: A proprietary blend of barrels ranging from 6-9 years old. The blend is then rested to finish in Malmsey Madeira Casks. Non-chill filtered.

 

Bottle 5: Belle Meade Bourbon Finished in XO Cognac Cask

Belle Meade

Proof: 90.4

Mash Bill: 64% corn, 30% rye and 6% malted barley.

Price: $84

Purchase location: Spec’s Houston

Tasting Notes: 

Nose: Earthy; stewed fruit; toffee.

Palate: Somewhat thin; baking spice and brown sugar; soft vanilla.

Finish: Some chocolate malt mixed with brown sugar and all spice.

Why this bottle is featured: A proprietary blend of barrels ranging from 6-9 years old. Used casks made of French Limousin Oak that have been used for 12 years to age one of the world’s premiere Fine Champagne XO Cognacs.

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