CS&D Podcast Episode 10: Andy Nelson, Cofounder of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery and Belle Meade Bourbon, on the Life Cycle of a Modern Distillery

Launching a whiskey distillery is not for the faint of heart. Balancing the timing, financing, logistics, brand building, quality, creative expression, distillery construction, and legacy has left Andy Nelson feeling as much like a jack-of-all-trades as he does a head distiller.

Molly Troupe Jul 9, 2024 - 3 min read

CS&D Podcast Episode 10: Andy Nelson, Cofounder of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery and Belle Meade Bourbon, on the Life Cycle of a Modern Distillery Primary Image

Portrait courtesy Nelson's Green Brier Distillery

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The last decade and a half have been a whirlwind for Andy Nelson, as the discovery of a family distilling legacy led him and his brother Charlie to pursue and launch Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, aiming to make Tennessee whiskey the way their great-great-great grandfather did—with a few accomodations for modernity, of course. Along the way, they also launched Belle Meade Bourbon, sourcing and blending and getting a deep education along the way. Now, after selling a majority stake in the distillery to Constellation Brands, Nelson is setting an independent course, consulting and helping other would-be distillery founders and operators navigate the same go-to-market maze.

In this episode, host Molly Troupe and Nelson discuss:

  • building a brand story from family history
  • developing and honing a solid base of blending skills before distilling and barreling whiskey
  • moving past assumptions and expectations to focus on the reality of flavor in the blending process
  • the common misconception that smaller barrels age whiskey faster
  • the history and terminology of Tennessee whiskey, including the charcoal mellowing process
  • updating a historic family recipe and process
  • striking the balance between owner-founder and maker
  • gaining confidence as a distiller without a background in science
  • leveling up on less natural skills, such as sales
  • bringing on a strategic distribution partner, with all the associated benefits and challenges

And more.

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With a Bachelor degree in Chemistry (with an emphasis in forensics) and a Master degree in Brewing and Distilling from the legendary Heriot Watt University, Molly Troupe uses her education and experience to create products focused on localized ingredients and masterful flavor combinations. As Master Distiller and Partner at Freeland Spirits in Portland, Oregon, she has released six different products ranging from gin to whiskey to canned cocktails.