Belle Meade Bourbon
Belle Meade Bourbon is the resurrection of a brand that was originally created by Charles Nelson & Sperry, Wade & Co. back in the pre-prohibition era. It’s recipe contains a high rye content and bottled exactly at 90.4 proof. There is a great backstory behind the resurrection of this brand and the Nelson’s Green Brier distillery as a whole. I got to meet the grandsons of Charles Nelson, Andy and Charlie. They told me some of the backstory behind the distillery and how this resurrection came about. You can read the story in it’s entirety on their website. It’s quite a story and well worth the read. Enough of the backstory lets get into the bourbon!
One of the first thing that catches my eye is the label on this bottle of Belle Meade Bourbon. There are two horses pictured in what looks like a duel of hooves. After reading about the label, turns out these are two fairly special horses not just some clip art horses! Both are from the infamous Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville which is known for producing incredible racing horses. In fact the horse on the right is Bonnie Scotland, this horse has some rather famous descendants, you might have heard of Seabiscuit or Secretariat before? The horse on the left well, it’s named Brown Dick descendant of a horse named simply Whiskey.
The Belle Meade Bourbon bottle is a nicely shaped bottle, not the typical short and stubby like other bourbon bottles that I’ve been coming across as of late. Personally, I love the band at the top of the bottle that acts as tamper evident label for the bottle.
So how does the actual bourbon look? Oh I didn’t think you all would care about that. It’s actually a nice light amber color. It has a nice golden hue to it. Not quite copper, but it might get there with more age. The color looks similar to other ryes, it has more of a reddish / golden hue than anything else.
First thing I notice in this Belle Meade Bourbon is the traditional vanilla and caramel notes coming out of the glass. There is very pleasant aroma and bouquet coming up. The tasting notes on the website indicate floral fragrances and a citrus zest. Personally, I never picked up on that while reviewing. After going back and nosing again after reading the notes, I definitely picked up on the floral notes, but not the citrus.
On the palate I was quickly able to pick out the vanilla characters from this Belle Meade Bourbon. There was a nice light burn from the rye. The heat wasn’t over powering, but a nice little bump in temperature that could keep you warm in the winter that’s for sure! I was a little let down on the palate though, I felt that the bourbon was fairly light in complexity. There didn’t seem to be much depth in the overall flavors. I judge complexity by being able to hit multiple tastes, such as spice, sweet, salty all together. That really gives bourbon a nice depth to it’s flavor. For me that wasn’t there with this Belle Meade Bourbon.
The finish was a quick and light finish. The burn didn’t hang around too long and the bourbon didn’t coat my tongue and sit on it like I wish it would. Instead it felt like it was a quick introduction and a handshake and then it was off to something else. Leaving me wanting something more and with some depth to it. Maybe I just got a bum bottle of this Belle Meade Bourbon, because according to the company’s tasting notes, this should be a “smooth, long finish”. I would agree that it was smooth, but I would have to say it was anything but long.
I’m giving this Belle Meade Bourbon: an 8/10. There are some things that I love about this bourbon, and there are some things that I think can be improved with age. I feel like the depth of character can definitely increase which should affect finish as well. I think they’ve got a home run with the packaging and the back story behind the brand. Now they just have to make the whiskey the star of the show. It’s early on for the Nelson boys, but I’ll be rooting for them! I’d love to see some local Nashville bourbon start getting some National recognition to let the world know we’re serious about our whiskey.