From Nashville, TN, Uncle Nearest is a brand named in honor of a man that history almost forgot. From the limited historic information available we know that the man in question, Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green, was an African American distiller, born into slavery, emancipated after the Civil War, and later became the first Master Distiller at the iconic Jack Daniel’s Distillery. As the story goes, Green was hired to a preacher named Dan Call to run Call’s still. Whilst working for Call, Green was introduced to a young Jack Daniel and under Call’s instruction Green mentored Jack in how to run the still. Following the events of the Civil War, Green continued to work for Call and eventually went on to work as the first Master Distiller at the Jack Daniel’s distillery. It is also claimed that Green was the first to use the Lincoln County Process, an integral part in the production of modern-day Tennessee whiskey. However, evidence for this is insufficient and all we can say for sure is that he was instrumental in making the Lincoln County Process a vital element in creating Jack Daniel’s TN whiskey.
The Nearest Green story has been pieced together through the tireless effort of author Fawn Weaver who has also launched the Nearest Green Foundation to commemorate his legacy and impact on one of America’s most iconic brand. The foundation is responsible for a museum, memorial park, a book about Green’s life, a college scholarship for his descendants, and the Nearest Green 1856 Premium Whiskey brand. The foundation also recently worked with the current owners of the Jack Daniel’s distillery, Brown-Forman, to have Green officially recognised as their first Master Distiller and have his legacy and history added to their tours and website. To date, Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green is America’s first documented African American Master Distiller and the story behind this brand gives drinkers a nice break from the usual marketing spin that many brands use to massage the history of their brands. It’s also refreshing to see a brand that’s willing to break the mold and talk openly about the murky topic of slavery in distillation, which many distilleries tend to avoid when telling their own stories.
Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey itself is a blended 100 proof Tennessee whiskey sourced from two unknown TN distilleries and released whilst Uncle Nearest Inc. are waiting for their own contract-distilled whiskey to age. This brand recently launched in the UK and has since garnered a lot of excitement from whiskey drinkers here.
Name: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey
Age: NAS (although Uncle Nearest have stated that their own whisky will be 7 years old)
Proof: 100 proof (50% ABV)
Type: Tennessee Whiskey
Producer: Uncle Nearest Inc. (sourced from two unknown TN distilleries)
Appearance: Rusty copper
Nose: The nose opens with deep caramel layered with earthy, nutty white pepper, a dash of charred oak and a slight hit of alcohol.
Palate: The palate is creamy with burnt caramel, roasted nuts, vanilla pods, a wave of peppery spice with a dash of smoky charred oak and a faint vegetal funk.
Finish: The finish is long and warming featuring floral vanilla, deep caramel again, herbaceous notes, and bitter charred oak with prickly spice leaving a dry tannic and almost slightly medicinal aftertaste.
This is a whiskey I can definitely see a lot of people getting along with. In true charcoal-filtered, Tennessee-whiskey style it’s well-polished with very little harsh flavours and a great balance between caramel, spice, and slightly bitter charred oak. Although we don’t know which distilleries the whiskies in this blend are sourced from we can definitely make some educated guesses. The presence of strong rye spice and almost medicinal charred oak flavours can only lead me to the conclusion that this is at least 1 part Dickell bourbon. This didn’t taste like a blend where two different whiskies were fighting against each other in the final product. What I found whilst sipping this is that the strong charred oak and spice gives it a bold flavourful edge whilst the caramel and vanilla makes it enjoyable. At 100 proof you still get an alcohol kick on the nose but otherwise the proof has really helped to carry and highlight the flavours well and I felt like every drop was bursting with those delicious bold, spicy and sweet flavours.
This is a Tennessee whiskey through and through and one I’m sure Nearest Green would have been proud to put his name on. Having already won a few awards, this whiskey sets the bar nice and high for Uncle Nearest’s own distillate. Going from the descriptions of their whiskey making process on their website I’m sure Uncle Nearest will have a very good final product, and in fact, Uncle Nearest have already released some of their white dog under their Uncle Nearest Premium Silver Whiskey to great acclaim.
Try or Buy?
As you can probably tell from my above picture, I find this to be a great every day whiskey with enough flavour intensity to leave you truly satisfied and for just shy of £50 a bottle it is well worth a punt! See https://uncle-nearest-uk.myshopify.com/ for more.