One of America’s best-loved whiskies, Uncle Nearest, are launching their 1884 Small Batch Whiskey in the UK. As they unveil this new expression, they also announce their new distribution partnership with premium spirits distributor Mangrove UK. The launch was due to take place in 2020, however it had to be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mangrove will also distribute the Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey, which is due to arrive in the UK in the spring.
CEO and Founder, Fawn Weaver, became the first African American and the first woman to head a major spirits brand and Uncle Nearest is the first American spirit brand with an all-female executive team. Uncle Nearest sells in all 50 states, 12 countries world-wide and is the best-selling African American owned spirit ever.
Furthermore, the Uncle Nearest brand is the most awarded American Whiskey or Bourbon of 2019, 2020, and 2021 with an impressive collection of accolades.
The story of Nearest Green (known as ’Uncle Nearest’) is remarkable and an important milestone in whiskey making history of the United States. Nearest Green is acknowledged as the world’s first-known African American master distiller. His prodigies famously include Jack Daniel, who was Green’s young apprentice on a farm in Tennessee. When Jack Daniel set up his distillery, he employed Green as his master distiller, as well as hiring his sons. Green is also credited with helping perfect what is now known as the Lincoln County Process, a method in which whiskey is filtered through more than 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal. This process was inspired by the techniques of enslaved men and women, who used charcoal to filter their water and purify their foods in West Africa. The Lincoln County Process, a requirement in order to be categorised as Tennessee Whiskey, was named after the county in which Nearest lived and distilled.
This account of Nearest Green and his contributions to American Whiskey, was largely unknown until Fawn Weaver, who was working as a successful entrepreneur and author at the time, read an article in 2016, which compelled her to find out more. With the help of 20 historians, archivists, archaeologists, conservators and genealogists she uncovered the true story of the legendary Green. After meeting some of Green’s descendants, Weaver was inspired to start a foundation in Green’s name. On recounting her plans to the family, there was one more ask: What about putting his name on a bottle of whiskey? The answer was yes, and Weaver then founded the company honouring the legacy of Uncle Nearest in 2017. By 2019, the brand was available throughout the United States and beyond. It was during this same year, that Victoria Eady Butler, Nearest’s great-great-granddaughter, started working at the distillery. Months later, she had shown that whiskey was truly in her blood, and she was quickly elevated to Master Blender.
The Nearest Green Foundation was founded to support the legacy of excellence of Nearest Green, and it has funded college scholarships (and beyond) to Green descendants. Through this Foundation, the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative was created, which was founded to create more diversity and more opportunity in the spirits industry. With the success of this initiative, Weaver also started the Black Business Booster, which has advised and assisted more than 16 brands in the last 2 years.
Katharine Jerkens, Chief Business Officer, Uncle Nearest, Inc. said:
Uncle Nearest Inc. believes London and the UK as a whole is an integral part to our global expansion. I am extremely confident in our choice to move forward with Mangrove. They are proven successful leaders in spirits distribution and brand building, and we know that they play a pivotal role in building our brand throughout the United Kingdom.
Nick Gillett, MD at Mangrove UK added:
Whilst the story is fascinating and part of the rich tapestry that makes up the world of spirits, have no doubt that this liquid is up there with the best. I, of course, never had the chance to taste the products that Nearest made, but he would have to have been at his very best to match the current range that has been lovingly blended by Victoria Eady-Butler. The team at Uncle Nearest are a pleasure to work with and we look forward to growing the brand and achieving its potential in the UK.
Tasting Notes 1884 Small Batch
Uncle Nearest 1884 is the proud legacy of the Godfather of Tennessee Whiskey, Nearest Green. Awarded the prestigious Master Award at The Spirits Business Luxury Business Masters 2021 and a Gold Medal at London Spirits Competition 2020, European critics have definitely taken notice. Each small batch comes from barrels chosen by the founders and each blend is curated by 5th generation Green descendant, Master Blender, Victoria Eady Butler, named Master Blender of the Year 2021 by Whisky Magazine. Victoria’s signature can be found on the back of every bottle of Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey.
Nose: Warm brown sugar, pecan and oak. Buttered toast, cherry cordial, baking spice nutmeg and coriander
Palate: Walnut, maple syrup, coconut and cinnamon with a warmth and sweetness.
Finish: More Cinnamon worth oak and a touch of campfire smoke