By Frederick H. Lowe
Have a glass of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey and don’t forget to toast Nathan “Nearest” Green, a black man, whose name is on the bottle, and who is considered the Godfather of the “Tennessee Whiskey Making Process.”
Green is believed to have perfected the Lincoln County Process, which is a special sugar maple charcoal filtering method required to be considered Tennessee whiskey. A former slave and the nation’s first acknowledged African American master distiller, Green taught Jasper “Jack” Daniel how to make his world-famous bourbon. Jack Daniel’s is a drink closely associated with Kentucky.
A lifelong resident of Lynchburg, Tennessee, Green was the first head distiller for Jack Daniel’s. He remained in that position until 1888. Jack Daniel’s, or Old No. 7, was founded in 1875.
In 2016, the company finally acknowledged that Green was the first master distiller after initially crediting Dan Call, a preacher and Green’s slave owner.
Call received credit for teaching Jack Daniel how to distill whiskey, reported the New York Times.
According to the 1967 biography, “Jack Daniel’s Legacy,” Call told Green to teach Daniel everything he knew. Call also told Daniel Green was the best whiskey maker he knew.
Green’s role had been part of an optional tour of the distillery left to the tour guide’s discretion.
Instead, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is planning a distillery, a tasting room and a music venue on the Tennessee Walking Horse farm and event center Sand Creek in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
Uncle Nearest currently manufactures three brands: 1856 Premium Aged ($59.95 per bottle), 1820 Premium Single Barrel ($119 per bottle) and 1884 Premium Small Batch ($49. 99 per bottle). These are all suggested retail prices. The Premium Aged was introduced in 2017. The other brands were introduced this year.
On Tuesday, Uncle Nearest launched its 1884 Premium Small Batch Whiskey, which is a lighter bodied, enabling drinkers to sip because of it is 93 proof. It also has an off-white and gold label, making it standout on shelves against its competitors who have black labels.
Uncle Nearest is not associated with Jack Daniel’s, Keith Myles, spokesman for Uncle Nearest, told BlackmansStreet.Today. Uncle Nearest is wholly owned by Uncle Nearest Inc. Jack Daniel’s is owned by Brown-Forman Corporation, which is based in Louisville, Kentucky.
The distillery is scheduled to open in September, Fawn Weaver, the first black woman to manage a major whiskey brand, told the Jerusalem Post. Weaver raised more than $20 million to start whiskey production. Weaver is author of Happy Wives Club: One Woman’s Guide for the Secrets of a Great Marriage and a real estate investor.
Her father, Frank Wilson, produced a string of hits for Motown artists, including The Supremes. He also wrote songs for the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and many others.
The Uncle Nearest brand of liquors is selling in more than 6, 000 stores, bars and restaurants around the world, including London, Tokyo, Cape Town, Glasgow and Belfast. It is also sold in all 50 states.
Some of brand’s sales will go to Green’s descendants to ensure their college education is paid.