Nelson’s First 108 Tennessee Whiskey (30-gallon barrel limited release) – Quick Sips

Best known for the Belle Meade Bourbon line, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery (Nashville, TN) is returning to its whiskey roots with Nelson’s First 108 Tennessee Whiskey – the first Tennessee whiskey to come off their stills in 108 years. This commemorative, limited release (108 barrels – see a theme here?) is distilled from the company’s original, pre-prohibition recipe and is filtered through sugar maple charcoal in accordance with Tennessee tradition (i.e. the Lincoln County Process).

Nelson’s First 108 Tennessee Whiskey

Aged for 2 years in 30-gallon barrels before a brief finish in 53-gallon barrels. This whiskey is only available in 375ml bottles and sold exclusively at the Nashville distillery in two versions – a 90 proof small batch and a barrel proof single barrel. Future releases, set to begin in 2019, will mature exclusively in 53-gallon barrels and carry a 4-year age statement.

Batch 3: Bottle #40 (375 ml)Nelson’s First 108 Tennessee Whiskey 1
Mash bill: Corn, wheat, malted barley
Proof: 90
Price: $40 

Color: Caramel – much darker than you would expect given the modest age. This is undoubtedly due to the rapid aging afforded by the smaller barrels.  

Nose: Prominent cereal grains, sweet caramel and honey, burnt brown sugar, light baking spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) and a subtle minty note.

Palate: The entry is decidedly grain forward, giving Nelson’s 108 an earthy character that lingers throughout initial sip. This is followed by notes of maple syrup, milk chocolate, sweet spearmint, and a sugary, vanilla flavor reminiscent of animal crackers or Nilla Wafers. The finish is quick and dry with fresh gains, chocolate, cinnamon, and a brief hint of oak. Overall, very complex for a 2-year whiskey.

Conclusion: Nelson’s First 108 Tennessee Whiskey is definitely not your typical small barrel whiskey, which often come off as underdeveloped or exceedingly over-oaked (or both). Instead, Nelson’s First 108 delivers a level of complexity and balance that evokes a product beyond its 2-year pedigree. This whiskey’s youthful characteristics (bright grain notes) serve as a perfect savory complement to the sweeter aspects of the distillate. Additionally, the relatively brief aging allows the quality of the whiskey and its ingredients to shine through without interference from heavier barrel flavors. In short, Nelson’s First 108 Tennessee Whiskey is a great little 2-year whiskey should develop into a fantastic 4-year product. Buy some 108 now and make travel plans to grab its big brother in 2019!

JE

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