In 2007, the United States Senate declared September as National Bourbon Heritage Month. And in 2013, we happily enjoy the pronouncement. To celebrate this September, there are no better stories to share than those of Simoneink’s two newest clients: Belle Meade Bourbon, a historic family brand being revived out of Nashville, Tennessee, and Branch in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the most progressive cocktail bar ever to open in the South. After all, the assertion of September’s tribute reinforces the 1964 Act of Congress that declared bourbon "America's Native Spirit.”
What is old in Nashville, Tennessee is new again. The pride of Tennessee is back with Belle Meade Bourbon from Nelson's Green Brier Distillery – the most incredibly hand crafted whiskey developed in small batches of just four barrels each. Brothers Charlie and Andy Nelson began the revival of the Green Brier name and brand, also known as Old No. 5 Distillery, which was produced in the 1800’s by their great-great-great-grandfather, Charles Nelson. In 1885, Charles sold close to 380,000 gallons of whiskey across the US and Europe; at the time, Jack Daniels’ production capacity was just over 23,000. This puts in perspective the popularity of the craft spirit for its smooth tasting notes. Even the vintage label that includes a portrait of two horses, whose origins go back to Belle Meade Plantation in Tennessee, portrays the brothers’ passion for embracing their family’s heritage and tradition. Come this December, the first of their distilleries will be open after 100 years, in a rising neighborhood of Nashville within the Marathon Village.
Just two months ago, the ever-expanding New South Restaurant Group empire of nationally recognized restaurateur Robert St. John "branched out" by flinging open the large reclaimed wood doors of Branch, the mid-century modern cocktail bar in Hattiesburg, Mississippi whose name is derived from the southern cocktail order of “Bourbon and Branch” (referring to using “branch water” or stream/regular water as opposed to soda or tonic.) With an array of bourbons supporting its name, Branch houses a selection of over 130 different types of bourbon including single-barrel versions handpicked right at the distillery, and the complete collection of Pappy Van Winkle. The cocktails are practically culinary items in their own right, like the Dear Doctor with Bourbon, Menta Branca Rinse, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, and Bitter Truth EXR, inspired by a favorite Rolling Stones’ song that is found amongst St. John’s personal collection of over 1,800 vinyl records that enliven the atmosphere at Branch.