If you visit Music City, you won’t have trouble finding Belle Meade Bourbon, and you just might bump into whiskey makers Andy and Charlie Nelson at a favorite watering hole or diner.
Our must-visits in Nashville:
Belle Meade Plantation
Charles Nelson’s original bourbon was named for this horse-y landmark on the outskirts of town. Every thoroughbred to win the Kentucky Derby since 2003 can trace its bloodline back to this nineteenth-century horse farm. Belle Meade Bourbon’s label bears the likeness of two of the plantation’s most famous horses, Bonnie Scotland and Brown Dick. Today, you can tour the house museum and the winery, where chocolate truffles made with Belle Meade bourbon are sold.
The Bang Candy Company
Just steps away from Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Marathon Village, this delightful candy shop sells handcrafted marshmallows, strong coffee, and boozy caramels made with Belle Meade Bourbon.
This quirky East Nashville watering hole is a favorite spot of the brothers behind Belle Meade. The Pawpaw cocktail is a fizzy bottle of Mexican Coke laced with a shot of Belle Meade and salted peanuts.
At this combination bowling alley, karaoke club, coffee shop, restaurant, and bar, you can lunch on a delicious lobster roll, local beers, or a Belle Meade cocktail.
M.L. Rose Craft Beer & Burgers
The Charlotte Avenue location is a straight shot west of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. You might see Andy Nelson sitting at the bar with a glass of Belle Meade or talking shop with some of the city’s whiskey and craft-beer geeks. M.L. Rose is open until 2 a.m. and serves food until 1 a.m. The appropriately named Nite Owl burger—with smoked tomato jam, stout-braised onions, bacon, and cheddar—is delicious.
While noshing on killer fried chicken skins, johnny cakes with pimento cheese and oysters with green garlic butter, bottarga, and preserved lemon, you can sip on a Chestnut Filly (Belle Meade Bourbon, Pimm’s, lemon, ginger bitters, and thyme-Viognier syrup). Belle Meade has been on the menu here since day one and is one of the restaurant’s most popular whiskeys, says general manager Kenny Lyons.
The Farm House
Chef Trey Cioccia purveys unpretentious Southern cooking like fried Delta catfish, Nashville hot chicken, and deviled eggs topped with chowchow and Tennessee ham. Try the Kitchen Water (Belle Meade, muddled arugula, and cherries).
WHERE TO STAY
The Hermitage Hotel
Dating from 1910, this magnificently restored luxury hotel near the state Capitol contains the Oak Bar, a hidden gem that’s a celebrity hangout; Capitol Grille, where chef Tyler Brown prepares vegetables and beef nurtured at nearby Glen Leven Farm; and immaculately appointed guest rooms with dreamy beds, linens, and pillows. Don’t miss the slick green-and-black Art Deco men’s room downstairs, a beautifully preserved period piece where shoeshine service is available 24/7. A Prohibition-era tunnel was said to have led from the bathroom to the nearby Tennessee state Capitol.