Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is already the most prominent Black-owned and fastest-growing whiskey brand in America. Now, the brand has achieved another milestone by surpassing $100 million in annual sales, the company said in a press release. Here are five things to know about the company.
1. Uncle Nearest is named after the enslaved man who taught Jack Daniels to make whiskey.
The company is named in honor of Nathan “Uncle Nearest” Green, the enslaved man who taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey. Green’s story was erased from history until 2016, when Jack Daniels celebrated its 150th anniversary and finally admitted he existed.
The New York Times published a report about the long overdue disclosure, noting that Daniels’ “hidden ingredient” was actually “help from a slave.”
2. The company was founded to honor Nearest’s legacy and give back to his descendants.
Founded by Fawn Weaver in 2017, the brand produces variations of the Tennessee Whiskey that Green originated, which made Daniels rich and famous and cemented his place as an American success story.
“To reach this and every other milestone on our horizon, we continue to push nonstop,” Weaver said. “Every penny this company has earned has gone back into the business, as well as to put Nearest Green’s college-age descendants through college and to invest in minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs through our Black Business Booster program (BBB), the Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative (NJAI) and Uncle Nearest Ventures. Every cent we make in the future will continue to do the same.”
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3. Uncle Nearest’s granddaughter is the award-winning Master Blender at the company.
Shortly after founding Uncle Nearest, Weaver was joined by Katharine Jerkens, the company’s chief business officer, and Victoria Eady Butler, Green’s great-great-granddaughter and the company’s master blender.
The trio works daily to ensure Green’s legacy continues to receive its just due.
According to the release, Uncle Nearest’s Bourbon and American Whiskey has been the most awarded for three consecutive years — 2019, 2020 and 2021. Butler also made history in 2021 as the first woman to be voted Master Blender of the Year by the American Icons of Whisky Awards.
She received the honor again this year, making her the first person to receive the award for two consecutive years.
“It is impossible for me to put into words how significant this is to me and my family,” Eady Butler said. “Less than five years ago, almost no one knew the name Nearest Green outside of my tiny hometown of Lynchburg. Now, he is well known as the best whiskey maker the world never knew, and the undisputed Godfather of Tennessee Whiskey. To be able to add my own legacy of whiskey-making next to his, well heck – ya’ll are going to make me cry. This is truly incredible.”
4. Uncle Nearest also operates a distillery that people can tour.
The company expanded to open the Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee, on Juneteenth in 2021. According to Black Enterprise, the project cost $50 million and its newly released Single Barrel Black Label sold out instantly, causing them to have to bottle more before opening to the public.
One woman, who spoke anonymously, told Moguldom she traveled to Tennessee specifically to purchase Uncle Nearest’s product.
“To know the story, how they lied and never told us he existed, it just makes you upset. So I went down there specifically to buy the whiskey and it’s really good. I wanted to do my part to ensure they were successful,” she said.
5. The company has pledged to continue reaching higher heights to inspire other marginalized people.
“We have an entire generation of women and people of color, who represent 70 percent of our country but still feel marginalized and underrepresented, counting on us,” Weaver said.
“This group continues to look to Uncle Nearest as proof that anything is possible. We will not let them down,” Weaver continued. “With the support of one of the most loyal consumer bases in spirits, we will continue to do the ‘impossible’ so they know, as long as they operate in excellence and refuse to give up, they can achieve whatever their heart believes.”
PHOTO: Victoria Eady Butler is Nathan “Uncle Nearest” Green great-great-granddaughter and master blender at his namesake whiskey company. (Photo Courtesy of NearestGreen.com)