It’s a tale of a storm at sea, and a fortune in gold washed overboard, rags to riches, and a lost legacy found again. And as the story unfolds into the modern day, if anyone has a good reason to celebrate Repeal Day on December 5, 2013, it’s the Belle Meade Bourbon brothers, Charlie and Andy Nelson.
These two, young proprietors of Belle Meade Bourbon are direct descendants of Charles Nelson who, in the late 1800s, owned one of the nation’s first major distilleries, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, out-producing fledgling brands like Jack Daniels more than a dozen-times-over. State legislation in Tennessee, outlawing alcohol production in every county, brought all that to a grinding halt in 1909 for Charles Nelson. The distillery was never again able to produce the popular whiskey in Charles’ lifetime or in the two following generations. Even after federal prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, Robertson County, 45 minutes outside of Nashville, TN, was unable to produce any alcohol until a law was passed in 2013 to allow production only on the acres surrounding Greenbrier Distillery.
After lying dormant for almost a century, the Nelson family distillery business has been resurrected for a new era: Charlie and Andy Nelson have gotten in touch with their heritage, starting with the revival of the Belle Meade Bourbon Brand, and a small distillery of their own slated to open in Nashville this coming Spring 2014.
The Nelson brothers re-discovered their great-great-great-grandfather’s legacy almost by chance, but recognized their birthright and destiny when they saw the historical site firsthand as adults. For the past few years they have been completely immersed, so to speak, in whiskey and bourbon, re-gaining the lost family knowledge of the customs and craft of distilling. Belle Meade Bourbon, their first re-issued brand, brings back a Charles Nelson product that was known and loved far and wide, in its day.
So, on December 5, 2013, sip it neat, on the rocks, or the “old-fashioned” way – America’s official native spirit, bourbon. And drink to eighty years of legal spirits, which the Nelson brothers’ great-great-great-grandpa would most certainly approve!
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