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New Whiskey Honors First African-American Master Distiller Who Also Trained Jack Daniels

The roles of African-Americans in distilling hasn’t been widely known, but that may soon change with the launch of Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey.

Launched last month in Portland, OR, the brand is inspired by Nathan “Nearest” Green, the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States, and the man who taught Jack Daniel how to distill. The descendants of his son, George Green, worked to ensure his legacy lived on in a bottle of premium whiskey.

Using local grains and the Lincoln County Process, a charcoal mellowing process Green helped perfect in Tennessee over 160 years ago, the Uncle Nearest team worked with two Tennessee distilleries still making whiskey the way Green made it. This process includes placing the product in new American oak barrels close to the same 110-proof Green was known for, and waiting until it is at the perfect age, taste, and color.

“This whiskey is meant to bring to the forefront the man who so few outside of Lynchburg, Tennessee knew was one of the most important master distillers in the creation of what is now known as Tennessee whiskey,” said Keith Miles, spokesman for the brand. “Having spent so much time with Green’s descendants, our founders knew their desire was to honor him with a premium whiskey made as close to his way as possible and bring it to every bar and spirit shop around the world, so everyone would know his name.”

Uncle Nearest also plans on launching a second whiskey, A Premium Silver, later this summer.

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Meet The Man Who Improved Irish Coffee

Jerry

When I first met Jerry DeFazio, in 2012, he was one of a very small number of guys who could drink me under the table. A year later, when he told me he was working on a small-batch, coffee-infused whiskey, I didn’t bat an eyelash.

I remember his description like it was yesterday: “I was pouring whiskey into my morning coffee and thought ‘there’s gotta be a way to do this without all this water in the way.’”

I prepared my face — you know, that face you use when your friend makes you listen to their band’s EP or check out their artwork in their presence — and took a double on the rocks. With a distinct cold brew smell and a gentle fire going down my throat, Fliquor Bean (yes, that’s what it’s called) brought out a genuine look of awe.

The Road to Fliquor Bean

Born in Troy, New York, but raised across the Northeast, DeFazio’s wanderlust would take him to Australia, Austin, and, eventually, the city of Angels. He found stability wherever he roamed behind a camera, though he could easily leave any gig behind for his next big adventure.

 

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Yes, on top of everything else, DeFazio may or may not be part of a collective (that shall remain anonymous) which puts on some of the best underground concerts and shindigs L.A.’s seen in years. I wish I could tell you more, but snitches get stitches.

At first, in 2013, DeFazio juggled camera operating at a film studio, the burgeoning concept of Fliquor Bean, and the warehouse parties (which exclusively served Fliquor). He was presumably running on fumes and his own product. Following a steady increase of media coverage and the studio going under, he decided to undertake his small-batch liquor business full-time.

Considering you only need two ingredients to make Fliquor — coffee and whiskey — it wasn’t long before he rolled out his first official batch.

Where Can I Get Fliquor Bean?

If you don’t live in California, fear not, you can get your hands on this magical elixir online. If you’re in the L.A. area, however, chances are one of you favorite haunts or brunch spots already has Fliquor on the menu.

Recently, I broke mac and cheese tots with DeFazio, 26, at Home Restaurant in Los Feliz and enjoyed a craft Fliquor cocktail — a huge jump from the Fliquor on the rocks I experienced three years ago.

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I love Fliquor, but these tots were super distracting.

He had taken a break from driving all over town, pitching Fliquor to bars and restaurants, to enjoy and talk about his product.

“This is the first place to pick me up,” De Fazio said. “I’m very thankful to these guys, especially because the got the whole idea that Fliquor Bean is for brunch.”

Evidently, he’s watched several people kick back numerous Fliquor cocktails at a single event, a feat that’s sure to keep you awake until the day after next. (The first time I had Fliquor Bean, I was up until 4am, contemplating my existence and watching cat videos on YouTube. And I only had a couple glasses.)

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Photo: Jerry DeFazio

When he stopped waxing poetic about bars with patio, the passion he holds for his company started to shine through. From production to advertising, DeFazio does it all with little to no assistance.

But even though it’s taken a lot of elbow grease for this sleeper to get L.A.’s attention, its simplicity is what truly wins the day. DeFazio’s business card says it best:

Fliquor Bean: replacing water with whiskey since 2013.

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