The story of how the brand Uncle Nearest came into the world was truly a story of kismet for Sherrie Moore, who came out of retirement to take on the role of Chief Whiskey Officer (Director of Whiskey and Distillery Operations) for the brand. It is truly an amazing story and we are very happy to present it, along side three marks from the brand, on the podcast.
The true story of Jack Daniels can’t be told without also telling the story of Nearest Green. Uncle Nearest, as he was known, taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey while he was enslaved on a plantation owned by Jack’s Uncle. Many years later, Sherrie also learned how to make whiskey, this time from Nearest Green’s great-grandson. That’s where her journey begins.
What we drank:
Uncle Nearest 1884
Uncle Nearest 1820 Single Barrel
Uncle Nearest 1856
Uncle Nearest, Inc., launched the Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey brand in July 2017 and subsequently announced plans to expand into domestic and international markets. As of April 2019, it is sold in 47 states and eight countries. In late June 2018, Uncle Nearest LTD (based in London) announced it would not add recently created trade tariffs – which took effect July 1, 2018 – to its whiskey prices in Europe. The company’s first 11-year-old, single-barrel whiskey premiered in October 2018 via the British Bourbon Society under the name Nathan Green 1870 Single Barrel.
Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is the first spirit named after an African-American.
Nathan “Nearest” Green
Known as Uncle Nearest, Nathan “Nearest” Green has been acknowledged since about 2016 as the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States. He taught Jack Daniel to make Tennessee whiskey and served as the first master distiller – formerly called “head stiller” – for the Jack Daniel Distillery. He was reportedly instrumental in developing the Lincoln County Process, the charcoal filtering method used to make most Tennessee Whiskey.
Nearest Green Distillery
The company said its distillery would be at Sand Creek Farms, a Tennessee walking horse farm and event center in Shelbyville, Tennessee. In December 2017, the Bedford County Board of Commissioners approved a rezoning proposal for Sand Creek Farms to accommodate a whiskey-themed, tourist-based business. According to the county planning and zoning director, Chris White, a hay barn on the property would be renovated for use as a barrel house, and a new building would be constructed for charcoal mellowing and bottling.
The company plans to grow over 100 acres of corn and build natural spring water wells and walking paths. The distillery is also considering building its own malt house, but some existing buildings at the site are expected to be renovated for use in distillery and tourist operations, including a tasting room.
A horse barn on the property is planned to become the site of the Nearest Green History Walk, a guided walking tour through an interactive gallery honoring the history of African-American contributions to the whiskey industry, with a focus on Nearest Green. Current plans also include a 600-seat arena onsite that will serve as a concert venue for country music artists. The company intends to maintain Sand Creek Farms as a working farm with horses and cattle in addition to operating the distillery.
The Uncle Nearest brand originally included a silver and an aged whiskey, both distilled from locally sourced grains and bottled in Tennessee. The silver whiskey takes 25 days to make using an 11-step process that includes a triple charcoal mellowing system designed for the brand. The company added a single-barrel whiskey in July 2018. Whiskey makers in Nashville – not the Jack Daniel Distillery – are producing the Uncle Nearest whiskeys for the company until renovations are complete for a distillery in Shelbyville.
The recipe behind the Uncle Nearest Tennessee whiskeys dates back to the whiskeys made in the late 1800s in Lincoln County. According to Fawn Weaver, co-founder of the Nearest Green Foundation, “It was saved from a fire just behind the square in Lynchburg and is now under lock and key at the Farmers Bank in Lynchburg, the bank Jack Daniel founded in 1888.” The recipe includes corn malt, a former whiskey ingredient long missing from Tennessee whiskeys.