The Love List



How Two Tennessee Brothers Revived Their 19th Century Bourbon Legacy in Present-Day Nashville


Charlie and Andy Nelson at their Nashville distillery and tasting room.

Words: Laura Scholz | Photos: Caroline Fontenot | Production: Jess Graves

At last year's Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, we met the affable Nelson Brothers. Charlie and Andy shared family anecdotes between sips of their heirloom whiskey, and invited us up to Tennessee to see their distillery in-person. Both in their early 30's, the brothers have established a sophisticated business beyond their years, one that's quickly become a treasured Nashville foothold. They're back at the festival again this year, so we figured it was as good a time as any to sit down and chat business, bourbon, brotherhood -- and of course, their favorite bars.

Jess enjoys a whiskey tasting at Nelson's Green Brier.

Chances are if you’re from the state of Tennessee, whiskey is in your blood.

But the Nelson family didn’t just dabble in avocational hootch. Andy and Charlie Nelson’s great-great-great grandfather Charles Nelson owned and operated Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, which in the late 19th century sold 380,000 gallons (nearly 2 million bottles) of whiskey annually, easily outselling the likes of now-household names like Jack Daniels and Maker’s Mark.

“We always knew there was a family whiskey thing,” explained Andy Nelson, the elder of the two brothers.

“But we didn’t know if it was legal, or just moonshine, or what. From time to time at family gatherings around the holidays, our great uncles would reminiscence and say ‘if only we could find that old spring in Greenbrier and get the family business up and running again,’ but we never took them seriously."

A serendipitous trip to a butcher ten summers ago changed everything.

Whiskey barrels at Nelson's Green Brier in Nashville.

Andy and his younger brother, Charlie, made the 20 mile trip north to Greenbrier to to buy meat from a butcher and ended up chewing instead on their family legacy.

“We'd stopped for gas before heading to the butcher, and we saw a historical marker that read Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. We couldn’t believe our name was on that sign,” Charlie recalled.

As fate would have it, the old family distillery, started by Charlie’s namesake great-great-great grandfather (coincidentally himself a butcher before getting into the whiskey business), was housed on the same land as the butcher’s shop. The brothers could see the remnants of the old whiskey barrelhouse, while the spring house was still standing... and the spring was still flowing.

Charlie and Andy talk us through the distilling process.

“The butcher sent us to the Greenbrier Historical Society, they had old pictures and ads and bottles of whiskey with our family name on them,” said Andy.

“That was the moment when Charlie and I looked at each other and said, ‘we have to do this.’”

Reviving the nearly hundred years-dormant family business was no small feat. Andy was fresh out of college working for a software publishing company, and Charlie was a 20 year old college senior studying philosophy. Neither had any experience in business--whiskey or otherwise.

Fast forward a decade, and the Green Brier Distillery is not only back--it’s thriving. The brothers started selling Belle Meade Bourbon using Charles Nelson’s original recipe four years ago. A new distillery bearing the family name opened in Nashville in 2014, and over the past decade, the company has grown to 25 employees and sells 25,000 cases of whiskey annually.

Aging whiskey barrels at Nelson's Green Brier.


The Love List: What was the biggest challenge to getting the distillery off the ground?

Charlie Nelson: Raising capital. When we started working on resurrecting the distillery, I was barely 21 years old. Nobody would invest in a kid who was barely of drinking age, had no experience, and no money. People loved the story and could see the passion, but just would not write a check. It took over two years of trying to raise money every day before our first investor wrote our first check.

TLL: What’s it like to work with family?

Andy Nelson: Charlie and I are 16 months apart, so we’re very close. We work together because my strengths are Charlie’s weaknesses and vice versa. I am way more introverted. And he’s more extroverted. Charlie is sales and marketing. I’m production and operations. We’re kind of each others’ checks and balances.

CN: You can absolutely trust that everyone is going about things with the best of intentions.

Charlie and Andy Nelson speak in detail about the distillery's stills.

TLL: What’s the biggest misconception people have when you tell them you own a distillery?

AN: Some people think that we just sit around drinking whiskey all day. While tasting is part of the job, we still work in a factory setting that can be a high-hazard environment. There are a lot of safety precautions we take that don't exactly work for drunk employees.

CN: That this is just a hobby. People will ask, ‘so, what's your real job?’ I usually just laugh. Owning a distillery is more than just a full time job, it is pretty much a 24/7 way of life.

Nelson's Green Brier employees give visitors a warm welcome to their distillery, offering full facility tours and sips in their tasting room, above.

TLL: Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever talked about whiskey?

AN: We once did a little talk to a Baptist Church group in Greenbrier. We were the youngest people in the room by about fifty years, and they were a bunch of teetotalers. But even though they didn’t drink, they loved the history and the story behind what we’re doing with the family business.

TLL: Anything new on the horizon for the brand?

AN: We've begun testing out some line extensions of our special barrel finishing program that started with our sherry cask-finished Belle Meade Bourbon. We have some bourbon sitting in Cognac casks as we speak, and it's coming along quite nicely. We plan on trying some other types of casks as well, but I don't want to ruin too much of the secret!

CN: We are also really excited about the eventual launch of our Nelson's Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey, which is still a couple of years away.

Rolling a whiskey barrel across the facility.

TLL: Favorite drink with your namesake bourbon?

AN: I am completely a seasonal drinker, so I'm more intorefreshing warm weather drinks at the moment. That said, I love a Belle Meade Mule (Belle Meade Bourbon, ginger beer, lime) or mint julep. Otherwise, my go-to is just a Belle Meade Bourbon neat. That never fails.

CN: My favorite drink with Belle Meade Bourbon is always changing. There are so many great bartenders out there making delicious cocktails, so it's tough to choose. I think what's more important is the company and the atmosphere. I've got to say though, I always go back to a good ol' Old Fashioned.

Nelson's Green Brier Distillery is located in Nashville's Marathon Village, offering tours and tastings daily.

TLL: Can’t-miss Nashville haunts? [Ed. note: for our favorite city watering holes, check out our Drinker's Guide to Nashville]

AN: Obviously Nashville has a whole lot of great music. I personally prefer a smaller, dive-type atmosphere like Exit/In, but Marathon Music Works is really great as well. And if any of our out-of-town guests at the distillery ask, I tell them to go to Robert's downtown. It's the honky-tonk where the locals go, and it can't be beat. I'm also really big on the outdoors and love to go hiking and camping. We're very fortunate in Middle Tennessee to be so close to all kinds of beautiful trails and parks like Big South Fork and Virgin Falls.

CN: Nashville has grown so much over the last few years that it is getting hard to keep track of all the new places opening. One of my favorite places to eat and drink in Nashville is Rolf and Daughters. The food is outstanding, the drinks are killer (they even have their own Single Barrel of Belle Meade Bourbon), and the people who work there are some of the best in the business.

The 2016 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival takes place from June 2 - 5 in Midtown Atlanta, Georgia, and we can't recommend the festivities enough. We'll be there, will you? Grab tickets here.

Parties: An Intimate Atlanta Dinner Full of "Real Talk"


We owe a big thanks to Domino magazine, who recently featured a dinner party we co-hosted with our friends Helen Ballard and Bradley Odom at Bradley's shop Dixon Rye in Atlanta. Chef Zach Meloy cooked us an amazing meal, the overall event a collaboration with apparel brand Kit + Ace who brought along cheeky "Real Talk" cards to inspire conversation. We had a fabulous night!

Many thanks to our creative friends and guests Ginny Branch, Sally Benedict, Mary Logan Bikoff, Elizabeth White, Joshua Charles, Carolyn Malone, and Sarah Dorio for attending. You can see the full feature (and many more pretty pictures!) on

My List: James Boehmer, NARS Global Director of Artistry

NARS Global Director of Artistry James Boehmer. Photo courtesy NARS Global.

NARS Global Director of Artistry James Boehmer. Photo courtesy NARS Global.

NARS recently swung open its sleek doors in Buckhead much to the delight of longtime local customers and fans (myself included). NARS' chic Global Director of Artistry (and complete makeup wizard) James Boehmer is based in New York, but the brand's new location in Atlanta's given him the opportunity to delve into the city on a deeper level. I thought it was a great excuse to pick his brain. - JG

1. I'm a big fan of Dries Van Noten. His mix of patterns and takes on classic silhouettes is always spot on. I love that his pieces are always classics, and mix well from season to season. I'm in love with all of his Marilyn Monroe prints from the Spring 2016 collection, which I was perusing recently at Jeffrey.
2. I definitely have a bit of a sunglasses addiction, and Céline frames are always perfect. I am alternating between a few pair this season, one of which I picked up at Saks Atlanta. Sunglasses are the easiest way to change up your look aside from swapping out your lipstick color.

3. Converse All Stars are the only sneakers I've worn since high school. White or black low tops literally work with anything you wear. The more beat up the better.

The new NARS boutique in Buckhead Atlanta. Photo vourtesy NARS Global.

The new NARS boutique in Buckhead Atlanta. Photo vourtesy NARS Global.

4. I have a bit of a problem with face sprays, and really skincare in general. Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Spray is my current fave. The coconut water leaves the skin incredibly hydrated and the scent is amazing.

5. Ben Gorham's scents for Byredo are the best. I am currently wearing Mojave Ghost. The violet notes mixed with cedar and sandalwood create a subtle halo off scent that floats off the skin. I get more attention from this fragrance than almost anything I've ever worn! (Ed note: read Byredo founder Ben Gorham's list here.)

6. NARS' Monoi candle evokes the amazing feeling of François Nars’ island paradise in Tahiti. This candle is the next best thing to being there!

COVER Books in Atlanta. Image by Andrew Thomas Lee via Bon Appetit.

7. I have a fondness for crystals and their healing benefits - it's the inner witch in me I suppose. I always have a few stones in my pocket, they help me to feel focused and centered and are beautiful objects in their own right. I loved exploring Crystal Blue on Euclid Ave in Atlanta's Little Five Points.
8. I'm a huge collector of books and love to dig through vintage books whenever I'm visiting a new city. COVER Books is my Atlanta obsession. I've found so many treasures - a recent favorite is "108 Portraits" by Gus Van Sant, which is one I've been searching for for years!

9. Green juice will cure anything that ails you. Kale Me Crazy is Atlanta's best.

10. I have a fairly dedicated yoga practice in New York and it's hard to maintain when I travel. What I love most about my practice is the community aspect of it, so I'm always searching for the best classes when I'm on the road. I love Define Body for their blend of Vinyasa, Pilates and dance- and you definitely work up a sweat!

Five Questions for Mississippi Painter Bradley S. Gordon

ART, APR16, PEOPLEJess Graves
Artist Bradley Gordon in his Oxford, Mississippi studio.

Artist Bradley Gordon in his Oxford, Mississippi studio.

Art Proust: when we pull 5 questions from the famous Proust questionnaire and add 1 great Southern artist to answer 'em. Today we drop our pin in the county seat of Lafayette, Mississippi (Oxford, to be exact) where painterBradley S. Gordon calls home. There, he looks to wildlife for inspiration, citing the animals of the South as his muse. Here's what's on Brad's mind.

"Longhorn at Dusk"

"Longhorn at Dusk"

5. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
BBQ-ing outside at my studio with family, my dogs and my good friends. A cold beer is always a bonus.

4. Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
Mamas all across the world for bringing us sweet little angels like mine.

"Catching a Drift"

"Catching a Drift"

3. Who would you have liked to be?
I'm a pretty lucky fella who has been given a loving family, great friends, a badass wife and the sweetest little ninja baby girl ever. I am very happy being me.

"White Cold Morning"

"White Cold Morning"

2. What is your favorite color?
Scranapple Berry

1. What is your present state of mind?
It feels about like that Christopher Cross song “Sailing".

Photos from Our 10th Anniversary Party! #TurnUpFor10


On March 19, 2016 The Love List turned 10 years old. We decided it was as good an occasion as any to throw a huge party with a band, booze and lots of guac. Thanks to everyone who came out -- all 250 of you! Here's to the next 10.

Event partners: Brandshop | Music booking + sound: Richard Patton / Cottonseed Live | Band: Great Peacock | Beverage sponsors: Cathead Vodka, Bristow Gin, Allqua Water | Cake: Kendall Boudoucies | Venues: The Luminary and Superica at Krog Street Market | Event photography + portrait studio: Sam Moore

Special thanks to our host committee: Mary Logan Bikoff, Laura Boring, Ashlyn Stallings Carter, Mary Kelly Clary, Christie Doss, Caroline Fontenot, Laura Fryer, Angela Hansberger, Henri Hollis, Kayla Patterson Iles, Cheri Leavy, Maggie Mathews, Sally Benedict Read, Haven Shea, Ashley Solomon, Jackie Tyler Thomson, and Elizabeth Heard White


Raw oysters on the half shell

Mark Fontenot, Sean Suarez

Matt Welch and Shanna Mayo tend bar

Vinia DiGeronimo, Kackie Condatore, Marianne Graves

Caroline Fontenot

Kirk Stafford

Kayla Iles

Will Smith

Will Smith

Scottie Walden

Laura Boring, Robert Fowler


Our gold-glittered, pink velvet "Drake on Cake" birthday cake. 'Bout to call your ass an Uber, I got somewhere to be.

Alston Daigh

Mary Beth Bugacini

The "Regina George" cocktail


Vena Kim

Great Peacock take the stage

Laura Boring, Mary Logan Bikoff, Maggie Mathews, Sheyda Mehrara, Caroline Fontenot

Friends and band lead the crowd in "Happy Birthday"

Ashley Solomon, Morgan West

Blair Gaddis, Margi Johnson

Thank you to our beverage sponsor Allqua!


In lieu of traditional event photos, we invited our guests to have their portraits made in our pop-up photo studio:

18 Things Ann Mashburn Loves Right Now

Ann Mashburn in her Atlanta headquarters. Photo courtesy Mashburn.

Ann Mashburn in her Atlanta headquarters. Photo courtesy Mashburn.

I'm looking forward to a conversation with Ann Mashburn next week at Brandshop, a pop-up shop and speaker series making its way to Atlanta from Charlotte. We'll be talking about the importance of content in an ever-evolving fashion landscape, her storied career and the artful marriage of editorial and retail in brand management. If you're in the city and you'd like to come, there are more details about both Brandshop and Ann's panel in our Agenda section.

In honor of the event and Ann's notoriously great taste, we asked her for a "love list" of her own; items she's coveting, products she scoops up in bulk, and her favorite haunts in Atlanta. - JNG


1. Ann Mashburn Icon Blouse

"I always feel like a LADY BOSS when I wear a silk blouse, which I guess I am? This is a super-heavy silk that you can wear multiple times before you dry clean it."

2. Mizon All-in-One Snail Cream

"Snail slime weirds a lot of people out, but I love it. It feels natural."

3. La DoubleJ Editions + Mantero Silk Dress

"Love this print and I think J.J. Martin is so cool and creative."

Chef Guy Wong's Le Fat, a Vietnamese brasserie on Atlanta's Westside. Photo via

Chef Guy Wong's Le Fat, a Vietnamese brasserie on Atlanta's Westside. Photo via

4. "Sid and I love going on last minute dates at Le Fat. The bar is fantastic if you can’t get a table. I have fish tacos at Taqueria del Sol sometimes four times a week, and I like to eat a hot dog at IKEA."

5. Rachel Kushner - The Flamethrowers

"This book is old news, I know, but my reading list is about two years behind. I raced through it… New York before the internet was a whole different world."

6. Ann Mashburn Harbor Sweater Tunic

"Slim version of a baja hoodie, without the hood."

7. "I’m having a trunk show with Cristina of Mi Golondrina in a few weeks in Atlanta and I can’t wait to get the Mar de Flores Skirt and a million more things. All of her stuff is hand-embroidered in Oaxaca and it is so beautifully done."

8. Dr. Teal's Lavender Lavender Foaming Bath

"I have a bath every night and I use this every night."

9. Blooming Quince branches

"I get these at the wholesale florist and stick them in a glass vase because they last for ages."

10. Observatory at Fernbank

"I think this is a groovy place to look at the planets on Thursday and Friday nights.. they set up lots of telescopes & it is free!"

Perrine's Wine Shop. Photo via Warby Parker.

Perrine's Wine Shop. Photo via Warby Parker.

11. "I have really cool French neighbors between Perrine’s Wine Shop and Le Jardin Francais for flowers."

12. Verso Super Eye Serum

"I’m not getting any younger."

13. Ann Mashburn Pasitea Sandal

"Can’t decide if these feel more 'old Gucci' or 'grandma', but both work for me."

14. Nu Bra

"I think I’m the last person on the planet to figure this one out. I borrowed it from one of my girls for an event and now I want to wear one every day."

Interior of the Aurelie Bidermann boutique, rue des Saints-Pères, Paris. Photo via La Compagnie

Interior of the Aurelie Bidermann boutique, rue des Saints-Pères, Paris. Photo via La Compagnie

15. "We did a trunk show with Aurelie Bidermann in our Houston shop, and this Emerald Baby Heart Chivor Necklace was an impulse buy – but I wear it almost every day now! It feels just the right amount of juvenile to me."

16. Ann Mashburn Brescia Bucket Bag

"Really proud of all my new handbags but I think the veg-tan is my favorite."

17. Uniqlo & Lemaire Half-Sleeve Sweater

"I’m still not over the seventies, and the sleeve length and rib on this feels like something awesome I had in ninth grade."

18. Tata Harper body oil

"The scent is so good – but my youngest likes to sleep in the bed with me when Sid is out of town, and unfortunately she’s not a fan. I’ll crawl in bed next to her and she’ll be like, 'Ugh, Mommy, you smell terrible.' I love it. Sorry Pauline."