Article by Allie, Liquor Department Associate
To tell the story of this distillery would mean diving back into the mid-nineteenth century, where a slave named Nathan “Nearest” Green acted as distiller for a local country preacher’s small side business in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Green’s incredible skill, combined with the use of a unique maple sugar charcoal filter, brought him fame and recognition for making a smooth, flavorful whiskey.
Years later, a young man named Jasper Newton apprenticed under Green, who helped grow the small distillery through the end of the Civil War. When Newton decided to buy out the preacher’s business and start making whiskey for himself, he asked the newly freed Nathan Green to become his master distiller, most likely a historical first in the United States.
Despite the honor given to Green, his role and legacy with what grew into Jack Daniel’s distillery were nearly lost to time until 2016 when the facts of history not only came to light, but were fully embraced by the company in headline-making news. However, author Fawn Weaver found, after the news spurred her to conduct some research of her own, that it was nowhere near enough.
Jack Daniel’s Tours? No mention of Green. In fact, he wasn’t even listed as the first master distiller of the distillery; that place of honor was given to Jasper Newton, or “Jack Daniel” himself. Over the course of several months — and sifting through thousands of documents — in Lynchburg and meeting with high-ranking members of Jack Daniel’s, Weaver’s progress has continued to uncover the real story.
But it wasn’t enough. Weaver wanted to further highlight Nathan Green’s contribution to Tennessee whiskey, and she took the next step by opening her own minority-led brand and distillery in his name. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey opened its doors in 2017, and the brand since then has earned over seventy awards for its products.
With the goal of imitating as closely as possible the smooth, flavorful whiskeys distilled by Nathan Green during his heyday, Uncle Nearest blends and ages a variety of bourbons and whiskies sourced from all over Tennessee until their home distillery finishes construction. As a further grace note to quality, a direct descendant of Green adds her signature to each new batch of approved Uncle Nearest whiskey.
Reviews of Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey:
“Big blast of vanilla sweetness… very easy to drink… [A] nice tingle remains on the palate… lasts longer than I expected it to” (Brent Joseph, 2020).
“A rich, molasses-like sweetness through the nasal passages. That quickly gives way to an earthier bouquet of grass, charcoal, and nutmeg, and a touch of maple… enters the palate with a rich and smooth character, this time with more of a caramelly flavor with distant notes of apple and hay” (Aaron Knapp, 2018)
Reviews of Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey:
“Very smooth with a cotton-candy-like sweetness… [with] a cool mint flavor left on my palate” (Brent Joseph, 2020).
“On the nose, you get hints of sweet corn, spice and vanilla. The palate matches the nose, with corn and vanilla paired with a woody oak and chocolate flavors. Finally, the finish provides notes of oak and spice, with minimal burn given the proof” (Eddie Maisonet III, 2019).
Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey is available at Superior Liquor for $61.99, and
you can also find the 1884 Small Batch Whiskey for $54.99.
Sources and Additional Reading: