A Honey of a Bourbon
A sweet second in Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery’s 2018 Craftsman Cask Collection series
In a sweet play on the distilling industry’s legendary “honey barrels,” those elusive whiskey casks that have been aged to perfection and are almost mythological within the world of whiskey, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Nashville, Tennessee is about to issue a limited-release Belle Meade Bourbon Honey Cask Finish. It’s their second release of the remarkable Craftsman Cask Collection series, the first of which was an acclaimed Mourvèdre Cask-Finish, shared by owners/whiskey makers Andy and Charlie Nelson in March.
At the distillery, there’s a great buzz of anticipation surrounding the Honey Cask Finish, an industry first. Unlike so-called “honey bourbons” that are flavored with added honey, the Honey Cask Finish is aged in barrels that were previously filled with natural honey by the artisan-beekeeping-entrepreneurs at TruBee Honey in Arrington, Tennessee, about 20 miles south of Nashville. Close to 300 bottles (two barrels worth) of the cask-strength Bourbon will be released on May 12 – just in time for Mother’s Day. Belle Meade Bourbon Honey Cask Finish will be available for sale only at the distillery in Nashville. Doors open at 11am. The 750mL bottles are $120 and limited to one bottle per customer, per day.
For honey connoisseurs out there: the barrel had been filled with Summer Vintage Raw Wildflower Honey. And here’s an important lesson from the distillers, if you’re tempted to try this at home: “Honey is hygroscopic, meaning that it attracts water (as opposed to hydrophobic, which would repel water),” explains Andy. “When we got the barrel back from TruBee, the honey had dried out the wood, so the barrel leaked a decent amount when we filled it up with Bourbon. Barrels take a little while to rehydrate, but eventually the moisture swelled the wood back up enough to become a fully sealed container once again.”
It’s no surprise that this honey-of-a-method yields a sweeter pour; the Nelson brothers suggest serving it neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water.
Nose: Honey, cinnamon, cedar, caramel and floral accents
Palate: Honey glazed pastry, caramel, orange, and cinnamon.
Finish: Long and pleasant showing honey, cashew, and baking spices.