When CEO Fawn Weaver founded Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey in 2017, her mission included telling the story of Nearest Green, the first African American distilled credited with teaching Jack Daniels how to make whiskey. Under Weaver's leadership and vision, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has become the most-awarded Bourbon and American Whiskey of 2019, 2020, and 2021 and this month announced that its sales exceeded $100 million through October 2022, with an on-track forecast to more than double that total by the end of 2023.
“To reach this and every other milestone on our horizon, we continue to push nonstop. 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,” says Weaver.
She continues, “Every cent we make in the future will continue to do the same. 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. This group continues to look to Uncle Nearest as proof that anything is possible. We will not let them down. 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.”
Walking in Our Ancestors' Footsteps
Critical to the Uncle Nearest team and brand is Victoria Eady Butler, the great-great-granddaughter of the company's namesake, Nearest Green, and four-time Master Blender of the Year recipient. “For the longest time, folks were sitting around waiting for us to fail. First, they underestimated us, then they expected us to fail,” shares Butler. “I guess they do that with independent companies owned by women or people of color. Well, more than five years into this level of growth, y'all can stop waiting. We are not a fad or some trendy brand – we are a purpose-driven, mission-oriented company. Uncle Nearest and Nearest Green Distillery aren't just here to stay, but to grow and sustain at a pace never seen before in our industry.”
The company's whiskey portfolio of seven offerings, available at its distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and in all 50 states, territories, and districts nationwide, ranges in suggested retail price from $49.99 to $149.
The company opened an expanded Nearest Green Distillery to the public last year on Juneteenth, a project that has cost approximately $50 million. The 323-acre distillery has already welcomed more than 100,000 guests with that number increasing significantly every week.