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.