Black Brier is one of the newest additions to a growing product line from Nelson's Green Brier Distillery. The brand has a long and fun history that I definitely suggest you explore. I got into their whiskeys early on and learned that the company certainly knows whiskey; sourcing and blending some of my favorite releases to date. Charlie can probably tell you the story in the most fun way, but Andy is a great wealth of whiskey knowledge too. If you missed the Spirit Animal Society live interview with Charlie, you're certainly missing out!
Photo: Whiskey University
To sum up their incredible story in too few words to do it justice, the aforementioned brothers resurrected their great-great-great grandfather's family distillery that originated in 1860. They're now making, blending and bottling whiskey that they believe honors their family's distilling legacy - a legacy you can continue to read about over on their website. It's well worth your time.
Now back to the release! Given the few clues we have from the bottle labeling, I think we can assume this is a blend of some of their older remaining sourced stock as well as their own bourbon. The front label reads "a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys" and the back label reads "Bottled by Nelson's Green Brier Distillery". Without a 'distilled in' statement, we'll perhaps never know - so do with this little information what you will. I already know and love stout finished bourbons as a category, so this release is going to have a pretty high bar to clear for me. As I sit with this glass in front of me, I'm growing impatient to re-experience this... So let's get on with the review!
Company on Label: Nelson's Green Brier Distillery
Whiskey Type: Finished Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed bourbon mash bill
Further identification: This Nashville distillery only release debuted in early 2023 at the Nelson's Green Brier Distillery gift shop; according to Charlie - the finishing barrel held a Blackstone Brewery Imperial Stout for about a year before getting dumped and then the bourbon blend spent another 11 months aging in that beer-soaked barrel before bottling; I have bottle 1851, so this seems to have been quite the blending undertaking
Nose: Upon lifting the glass to my nose I find a comforting array of dark chocolate, cinnamon toasted oats and walnut bread. It's soft and inviting in the creamy nose-feel highlighted by bananas foster. Nutmeg and cashew sit in the undisturbed pool of liquid honey. As a stout lover, the influence is light here for such a long finish, but certainly present. Cacao nibs and syrupy vanilla come across almost like a root beer float with a big scoop of ice cream. A swirl of the glass reveals a well aged bourbon set aside for long enough to be noticeably oak-forward before deep inhales produce the lovely cherry tones I adore. Darker hints of raspberries begin to form in the glass before unveiling brighter tones again. Lemongrass and orange peel are nice additions to a complex array of aromas. Let's jump in to a sip from here.
Returning from a sip I find a really unique caramel mixture that leans more towards a smoky butterscotch - if that's a thing. Overall the nose is bright with caramel, nougat and linen tones. Deep inhales produce soft notes of black pepper amid confectioners sugar. There's plenty of barrel funk for lovers of that style of whiskey. Rich oiled mahogany and hints of tobacco can be found near the bottom of the glass as the senses hone in on the experience presented. The empty glass smells of honeysuckle, cherry skins and raspberry tea.
Palate: On first sipping this I'm greeted with a delicious blackberry peach cobbler profile. The background notes are distinctly fruit forward - not buried by a huge wave of beer influence - which is what I loved about the previous iteration of their stout finished bourbon, Black Belle. Another sip amplifies the chocolate tones as mousse, tart raspberry and grape soda culminate in a fun, funky fresh flavor profile. Orange sherbet meets Irish coffee. Plum meets bark. Pecan meets fig. Everything about this is really interesting to explore, but the delivery is a touch messy in the way that it flip-flops. It still works pretty well here with enjoyable flavors all throughout. The highlight for me is how well the raspberry and the chocolate tones work together. As I sit pondering the feeling I get after the medium linger fades, I find that I love this glass, but I'm not in love with it. Black forest cake sits beautifully in the linger as waves of flavor continue to permeate from the exhaled air post-sip. The chest rise is elegant at this proof. My last sip has that wonderful effervescence that Black Belle did with sweet plum and cherry leading the way before a crème-filled chocolate imparts decadence on the tongue. The linger is long now with tootsie roll sweetness, sugar cookie and raisin. Yum!
Just a delicious whiskey to enjoy on any occasion. I'm a sucker for stout finished bourbon and this one checks all the boxes of a delicious whiskey. I personally would have preferred a little more volume and finishing barrel influence when I compare it to the 113.3 proof cask 6499 Black Belle release I have alongside it post-review. While it didn't transcend into my top score (which is quite exclusive), it's still a whiskey I'm beyond thrilled to have on my shelf. As such - it easily earns my "Keep Amongst the Whiskey" distinction. If you can't get Black Belle (which it's fair to say you probably can't) - this is the next best thing. Props to the NGB team on another great release! Cheers.