Belle Meade Bourbon Review

Belle Meade Bourbon Distillery Photo

I was sitting in a bookstore several months ago reading Garden & Gun when I stumbled across a review for Belle Meade Bourbon. Anytime I see a review for a bourbon I’m not familiar with I take notice, but seeing as how many people point to Garden & Gun’s reviews of and articles on the Pappy Van Winkle line of bourbons to explain their jump from bourbon geek fame to mainstream America fame, I was even more intrigued.

Glancing over the Belle Meade Bourbon website, the first thing I notice is information…and a lot of it. Granted, they currently only have one product, but they give you loads more information than most distilleries. Prior to Prohibition, Nelson’s Greenbriar Distillery had one of the most popular bourbons available (Belle Meade) and the most popular Tennessee Whiskey in production (Nelson’s Greenbriar Tennessee Whiskey), reportedly outselling Jack Daniel’s 16-1. Alas, prohibition came along, forcing the family to cease production.

Fast-forward nearly 100 years and Nelson’s great-great-great grandchildren, Charles & Andy Nelson, decided to resurrect the family business. Belle Meade Bourbon is sourced from stock bourbon produced in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and each batch is comprised of only four barrels – talk about small batch! The Nelson brothers are still working on distribution, so Belle Meade is not available in every part of the country just yet, as is the case for me – I’ve been getting my bottles from Arkansas. But if you’re a history buff, the website is definitely worth reading. They are currently in the process of outfitting their own distillery and rickhouse in Nashville, TN and plan to resurrect Charles Nelson’s recipe for Tennessee Whiskey in the coming years. 

Things worth noting:

  • high rye content (approximately 30%)
  • only 4 barrels per batch


Belle Meade Bourbon PhotoBourbon Name:  Belle Meade Bourbon

Proof: 90.4

Age: Labeled as “straight” and I can not find an age statement on the label, so I’m guessing at least 4 years 

Year:  2013

How I Drank It:  Neat

My Nose Noticed:  Maple Syrup | Hint of Citrus

First Sip:  Citrus | Vanilla | Caramel. Very smooth, but not as sweet as I was expecting based on the nose.

The Burn:  Quick finish but my lips were tingling for a few seconds after the finish. Having shared the bottle with a few friends, this seems to be the only area of complaint (some were hoping for a longer finish).

Neat, Splash or Rocks:  Definitely neat. Adding a splash of water mellows the flavors too much for my liking.

Share With:  Friends, especially those new to bourbon.

Worth The Price:  I’ve been paying around $30 a bottle, and at that price definitely. I’d say anything over $40 and you should shop around. This is something I’d recommend going a little out of your way to find, as their distribution network is still growing, but if you’re paying over $40 there are better bourbons in the $40+ range that are easier to find.

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  Belle Meade is a great easy-drinking bourbon and a home run for the Nelson brothers. I can only hope that as the company grows, Charles & Andy maintain their meticulous attention to detail and high standard of quality, because Belle Meade has become a mainstay in my home.





About Jonathan Jones

Bourbon is Jonathan Jones’ mistress…and his girlfriend is okay with that! He considers himself to be a late bloomer in the world of libations, as he didn’t have his first drink until he was 25, but he’s spent most of his time since then trying to catch up. Since April 2013 he’s been the night manager at a bottle shop (selling more than just liquor) which allows him to constantly learn and grow as the bourbon industry does as well. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he worlds with a group of guys who share his love for bourbon.

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