History can be as vital to whiskey as grain. And for Uncle Nearest, heritage has not only paved the way for the Tennessee whiskey brand, but it’s also been quintessential to the label’s success. Established in 2017 by author and real estate investor Fawn Weaver with her husband, Keith Weaver, Uncle Nearest honors the legacy of Nathan “Nearest” Green, also known as Uncle Nearest Green (Uncle Nearest to friends and family). Green was the first African-American master distiller on record, who lived from 1820 to about 1890.
Though Fawn developed a fondness for the spirit while sipping her first bourbon neat, her devotion ran deeper.
“My passion for the whiskey business had very little to do with the whiskey itself,” she says. “It was the ability to use whiskey to tell a story of unity during the most racially divided time in our country’s history that flamed the fire.”
It was Fawn’s curiosity that motivated her to launch Uncle Nearest, which became a standout among whiskey drinkers, landing it a slew of awards in 2019 and 2020. Likewise, her deep-rooted desire to bring Nearest Green’s story to light was the brand’s inspiration.
She was so curious she trekked from Los Angeles to Lynchburg, Tenn., on her 40th birthday, determined to uncover the lost tale of Tennessee whiskey. Through extensive research, countless conversations, and the expertise of archaeologists, genealogists, historians, archivists, and conservators, Weaver unraveled the untold narrative, piece by piece. “We knew we’d be creating a brand with one of the most remarkable backstories in American whiskey history,” she says.