Deep Fried Diaries

The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture

Wingmen: The Nelson Brothers’ Great American Family History Gets Deeper

[Lt. Gen. Frank Maxwell Andrews on the cover of Time Magazine in 1941;
Andy Nelson at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in 2015]


Thanksgiving is a time we often find ourselves both giving thanks to our past, and gathering with family (likely needing a glass of bourbon in hand!). In light of the holiday, and family, we bring you a little unknown story about Nashville’s own William Andrews “Andy” Nelson of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. Listen up — this is a good one…

Being brothers close in age and running a successful business together, it’s no question that Charlie Nelson has a wingman in his brother, Andy, who can be found daily at the big copper still producing their historic Tennessee Whiskey and bottling the next round of award-winning Belle Meade Bourbon. Many who know the story behind the resurrection of this historic family distillery know about Charlie’s namesake: the brothers’ great-great-great grandfather Charles Nelson (1835-1891) who was the leading producer of whiskey in America in the late 1800s, and the first in Tennessee to bottle his product — standing at the forefront of the pre-Prohibition American spirit movement.

But who was Andy (born William Andrews Nelson) named after in the family’s past? None other than the brothers’ great-great uncle, Lieutenant General Frank Maxwell Andrews (1884–1943). Ever heard of Andrews Air Force Base, the home of Air Force One? That’s this guy! Andrews, a Nashville native nicknamed “Andy,” left behind an incredible legacy as the founder of the United States Army Air Forces, which was later to become the United States Air Force. In early 1943, he took the place of Dwight D. Eisenhower as Commanding General (commander of ALL the U.S. troops) in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. Many say, if he weren’t tragically killed a B-24 plane crash in Iceland, he would have been well on his way to becoming President.

Just when you think the Nelson brother’s unbelievable family history couldn’t be more interesting…it does! So raise your glass this holiday season, and give thanks to the ones that paved the way before us.

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery | 1414 Clinton Street | Nashville, TN 37203 | @TNwhiskeyCO


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