The Uncle Nearest brand celebrates Nathan Green, known as Uncle Nearest to friends and family, a huge figure in whiskey history. As a slave working for preacher and distiller Dan Call, Green was introduced to a certain young orphan by the name of Jack Daniel (yep, that one) eventually teaching him the art of distillation in the mid-1800s.
He, in turn, was repaid by becoming the master distiller of the Jack Daniels Distillery, becoming the first African-American master distiller on record in the USA. Green was also instrumental in the evolution of the Lincoln County Process, and by association the creation of what we know as Tennessee Whisky.
Green, however, was not mentioned during any tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery and not listed as a master distiller at their visitor centre, until Fawn Weaver, an American author and historian, made it her mission to bring it to light in 2017. Fortunately, the distillery altered its tours and corrected its mistakes quickly.
Weaver didn’t stop there, however. She decided to launch a brand in honour of Nearest Green, buying the land that Call had once owned and the site of the first ever Jack Daniel’s distillery. Although you can buy Uncle Nearest whiskey, the distillery’s liquid isn’t ready yet, so anything Uncle Neatest you taste at the moment will have been sourced from two other distillers.
The site features a 5,500 barrel rickhouse on-site, a still flowing water spring that was used in the production of Nearest’s whiskey 150 years ago, an interactive gallery showcasing the history of African American Distillers and a 1,000 seater live music venue to showcase country music artists built in the old Horse Auction site. Weaver also co-founded the Nearest Green Legacy Scholarship, which pays in full for college for any qualifying descendent of Nearest.
Nose: Caramelised apples, sweet popcorn, sponge cake, a hint of toasted oak building.
Palate: More orchard fruit, now with baked apricot and a hint of orange zest. Still got loads of buttery vanilla notes to it, plus a touch of spicy nutmeg.
Finish: Cakey notes continue, paired with a whiff of smoky oak and butterscotch.