Food & Drink

Uncle Nearest now fastest growing independent whiskey brand in U.S. history

Jack Daniel Primo Grills

LOCAL NEWS — It may be officially located in Shelbyville but Uncle Nearest’s Lynchburg roots run deep. And now, based on numerous metrics the local craft whiskey is the fastest-growing independent American whiskey in U.S. History. The brand launched in July 2017. In just two short years, Uncle Nearest whiskeys have found their way onto shelves in all 50 states and 10 countries in over 7,000 locations. They now ship bottles to 148 countries, which they estimate amounts to at least 1,000,000 glasses raised. They’ve also been killing it on the awards circuit with more than 50 awards to date.

“We looked at case sales, revenue, points of distribution, pull-through percentage, states available, and countries where Uncle Nearest is on shelves. Then we compared this to every independent American whiskey brand that has come before us, from inception through their second year. There is no one that even comes close to what we have done and what we are doing so it wasn’t as hard to determine as one might think,” says brand founder, Fawn Weaver. “If you compare us to someone like Jack Daniel’s or Johnnie Walker, we’re not even a blip on the radar. But we don’t compare ourselves against the big guys. We only look at those who have come before us, done it fully independent as we have, and measure their growth against the same time period for us.”

Legacy of whiskey and friendship

In the 1800’s the brand’s namesake, Nathan Edmund “Nearest” Green, a black slave taught Jasper Newton Daniel how to make whiskey on Dan Call’s farm in the Lois community. The two formed a strong bond. The legacy of the Daniel and Green families flows through Moore County like spring water and will forever be intertwined. It’s that legend and the story of the Daniel and Green friendship that sparked Weaver’s fascination with Lynchburg and led to the launch of her successful craft whiskey. When asked if she was surprised by the rapid success of the Uncle Nearest brand, her honest answer is, “no.”

“We fully planned for it and have worked around the clock to bring this amazing story and whiskey to life. I attribute the growth to three things. The first is God. That may seem strange to those who don’t connect business with spirituality, but the two cannot be separated in my book. And for teetotalers, like my mom and dad, that could even sound like blasphemy at first. But anyone who thinks that way only need to come learn our story and see how miracle upon miracle has happened for all this to fall into place as it has.”

Weaver also gives her team much of the credit for the success.

“We all understand what we are doing is about so much more than whiskey. We are out there each and every day to cement the legacy of the first known African-American master distiller. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is just one of the ways we are doing that. I think that authenticity and passion resonates with consumers, as well as the retailers, mixologists and bartenders.”

The third secret to their success revolves around the deep friendship of Lynchburg’s most famous whiskey makers. Feaver feels a connection not only to Nathan “Nearest” Green but also to Jasper Newton Daniel.

“I won’t know until I get to heaven, which of these two guys (although I suspect it may be the former) chose this wildly passionate woman to tell this story and lead this incredible legacy project. I have no doubt they chose me. But the reason why they chose someone originally from California, to relocate to the incredibly community of Lynchburg, over so many others who could have done this just as well, now that’s the part I don’t yet know.”

Out of all the whiskeys in the world, the 2019 World Whiskeys Awards gave World’s Best honors to just two labels: Uncle Nearest 1865 and Four Roses 130th Anniversary. They were also named Best American Whiskey at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival and one of the “Top 5 Whiskeys in the World” by Cigar & Spirits Magazine.

So with so much success, what’s next?

Weaver says the brand plans another sneak peak at the distillery when Phase Two opens sometime in the spring on 2021. She also says as a group they’ve set a goal of tripling the number of countries with Uncle Nearest on the shelves over the next two years because they want to keep pace with their “fastest-growing” record.

“We own that title and have no intention of relinquishing it,” Weaver says.

To learn more about the distillery, check out their website by clicking here.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Leave a Reply