Nearest Green "Uncle Nearest" is the best whiskey maker the world never knew ...... until now. Known as the Godfather of Tennessee Whiskey, Uncle Nearest in 1856 perfected the "Charcoal Mellowing" process where whiskey is filtered through layers of sugar maple charcoal. This process defines Tennessee whiskey from bourbon and makes it unlike any other distilled spirits in the world. Uncle Nearest is the first African-American master distiller and also mentor and teacher to a young boy who grew up to be Jack Daniel. Uncle Nearest 1856 Tennessee Whiskey is 100 proof and aged 9 to 11 years in new white oak barrels. Uncle Nearest is the world's fastest-growing most award-winning independent American whiskey in U.S. history!!!
UNCLE NEAREST 1856 PREMIUM WHISKEY
UNCLE NEAREST 1884 PREMIUM WHISKEY
Nearest Green “Uncle Nearest” was the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States. Born in Maryland around 1820, we don’t know if he was born into slavery or later became a slave, but what we do know is sometime around the mid-1850s, he began working on the farm of a country preacher and distiller in what is now Metro Lynchburg. Nearest was a skilled distiller himself, specializing in a process known as charcoal leaching. It is a process believed by whiskey and food historians to have been brought in by slaves, who were already using charcoal to filter their water and purify their foods in West Africa.
Nearest was such a skilled distiller, and his charcoal-leached whiskey was the best in the area. Sometime in the mid-1850s, a young white boy came to work at the farm where Nearest operated as the distiller, overseeing a small team of workers. The young boy was the tenth child in his family and lost his mom to a sudden illness at the age of four months so it wasn’t surprising he began looking for things to do away from his own home. He worked as a chore boy for the preacher─milking cows, feeding pigs, getting water from the springhouse for the family, and other things farm hands do. He wasn’t a privileged boy, he was a worker, just like Nearest.
While the young boy worked for the preacher, he kept asking about going to see the smoke coming up through the hollow. He knew there were men hurrying back and forth from that area but he was never allowed to go. Finally, after some time of working as a chore boy, the preacher agreed to give in to the boy’s curiosity and to take him to the area on the property where the smoke came from. Introducing the young boy to a dark-skinned negro slave, he said, “Uncle Nearest is the best whiskey maker I know of,” and asked Nearest to teach the young boy everything he knew about distilling, and especially his process of charcoal leaching.
Now, the important thing to know about this special process Nearest taught is the only difference between bourbon and Tennessee whiskey is charcoal leaching (now, called charcoal mellowing but at that time it was called charcoal leaching). So, what Nearest was teaching the young boy to do was make Tennessee Whiskey.
As the years went by, the young boy continued learning from Nearest and eventually became old enough to begin selling this unique whiskey in other towns near Lynchburg. He sold to soldiers during the civil war and found he was a great sales person and entrepreneur. His whiskey became the most popular in the area. During the civil war, at the age of 15, the young boy lost his father and became an orphan. He would need to fend for himself all the remaining days of his life and chose the whiskey business as his career. Following the civil war, once Nearest was a free man, the white chore boy-turned business man partnered with the preacher in a distillery and then eventually started his own on the same property, leasing the land from the preacher. The young man hired Nearest as his first master distiller, continuing on his legacy of being the first known black master distiller─enslaved or free.
Over time, that young white chore boy moved from the property and took his growing whiskey business with him. Although Nearest retired and did not go to his new distillery, Nearest’s sons, Lewis, Eli and George all continued the tradition and went to work for the man at his new place. Nearest’s grandsons, Charlie and Ott also went to work for the new distillery. That man went on to be known as one of the most famous whiskey makers in the world, you know him as Jack Daniel. And Nearest Green’s story was lost in time…until now. Uncle Nearest Tennessee Whiskey is our way of ensuring his legacy is never again forgotten.