As Owners of ALOR Consulting, Paolo and I frequently get to talk about doing what we love for a living. This time as the content marketing agency behind the photography and initial social media burst for Uncle Nearest Whiskey, we get the chance to talk about being part of something far bigger than ourselves.
Story Behind Uncle Nearest Whiskey
June 25, 2016, the New York Times published Jack Daniel’s Embraces a Hidden Ingredient: Help From a Slave. This article turned a spotlight on slavery and appropriation in the history of Southern Whiskey making. Further, it surmises the timing of Jack Daniel’s addressing the truth of their story.
“In deciding to talk about Green, Jack Daniel’s may be hoping to get ahead of a collision between the growing popularity of American whiskey among younger drinkers and a heightened awareness of the hidden racial politics behind America’s culinary heritage.” —
Fast forward to 2017 and that New York Times article is now part of a bigger story.
In a press release out today, Uncle Nearest’s story continues.
Nathan “Nearest” Green was the master distiller for the whiskey operations for Dan Call in the mid-1800s in Lynchburg, Tenn., where a young Jack Daniel got his training in the business. Best-selling author Fawn Weaver was on an international business trip with her husband when she read and was struck by the narrative – a slave whose significance in the Tennessee whiskey industry was uncovered and acknowledged. As she dug deeper, she realized the story was not about just two men, but rather an entire community of African-Americans and whites in the South living and working in harmony. When asked what would most honor Green, the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States, the descendants of his son, George Green – the one most known for helping his father in the whiskey business – she said “ensuring his legacy lived on a bottle of premium whiskey in perpetuity would be the ultimate tribute.” With that direction, the Uncle Nearest production team set out to create an ultra-premium line of whiskey products in his honor. — Uncle Nearest Press Release by Little Green Pickle
Portland Bars & Restaurants Honor Uncle Nearest
This summer, Portland whiskey lovers have a chance to experience Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey first. The national whiskey brand inspired by the best whiskey maker, the world never knew, Nathan “Nearest” Green, officially launched in Portland, Oregon on July 19, 2017.
In honor of the release and Uncle Nearest himself, several bars and restaurants in Portland have created custom Uncle Nearest cocktails.
Our part at ALOR Consulting is to help Portland Bars & Restaurants get the word out by photographing their custom cocktails and providing social media direction. Although our part is small, our pride for helping to get the Uncle Nearest story out there is large.
Uncle Nearest’s story is an important story to tell. Fawn and Keith Weaver are also a strong reminder to raise a glass to those like Uncle Nearest who inspire generations to come. It’s our honor to be a part of their story now too.
Where to Find Uncle Nearest Whiskey
Uncle Nearest Premium Silver whiskey will enter the market later this summer. In the meantime, here is a list of Portland bars and restaurants where you can sample Uncle Nearest custom cocktails.
Charlie Dorst created ‘Near to a Smash’ at St. Jack. using Uncle Nearest Whiskey, Lillet Rouge, Demerara Syrup, lemon, blueberries, and mint. $14
Michelle Ruocco is serving up ‘Strike 3’ for Han Oak using Uncle Nearest Whiskey, Raspberry/gochujang syrup, black tea, lemon and Peychaud’s bitters. $13
Our friend Chazz Madrigal is serving up a balanced summertime bespoke pleaser in ‘Reverie’ at The Waiting Room and Lafitte’s. Reverie is made with Uncle Nearest Whiskey, Yzaguirre Rojo vermouth, Salmaikki Dala Scandinavian Fernet, Benedictine and a pinch of Pinot Noir salt. Serve over a large cube with an orange twist garnish. $15
Side note, we love cocktail talk with Chazz and if you’re in Portland, pony up to his bar and ask him about that pinch of salt in his cocktail, the idea and science behind it is fascinating!
Curtis Day is serving up ‘Nearest the Sun’ at Park Kitchen with Uncle Nearest Whiskey, Cocchi Americano, Aperol, honey syrup, angostura and Scrappy’s fire water bitters $11. For you Portland puppy lovers, be sure to ask Curtis about his new puppy, his pictures are adorable!
Over at Rue, Jon Lewis mixed up ‘Play Crack the Sky’ with Uncle Nearest Whiskey, Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Punt e Mes, Génépy, orange bitters, Miracle Mile Forbidden Bitters. $12
Michelle Sumida spun up ‘My Nearest & Dearest’ over at the Radio Room. A Sarsaparilla Old Fashioned she mixed Uncle Nearest Whiskey with house-infused sarsaparilla simple syrup, Angostura bitters and a garnish of orange peel and a Bordeaux cherry. $15
More bars and restaurants will be releasing their custom Uncle Nearest cocktail over the next few weeks and we’ll be sharing all the shots this summer.
For those who want to know more about the man these cocktails are toasting, read on.
Uncle Nearest & Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Connection
Long before the end of the Civil War, that freed an enslaved Nearest Green, the American whiskey industry was heavily influenced by African-American slaves and distilling and filtering methods used in Africa.
Nearest Green lived on the property of a preacher and distiller by the name of Dan Call. It is Dan Call who has been credited with teaching a young Jack Daniel the fine art of making whiskey.
However, as the New York Times reported in 2016 it was actually his slave Nearest Green who was Jack’s teacher. Nearest Green, or as his closest friends and family called him, Uncle Nearest, is believed to be one of the greatest influencers of the whiskey made in the Tennessee region, and around 1856, he helped perfect what is now known as the Lincoln County Process.
A mellowing system in which more than 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal is used to filter the whiskey in a slow and methodical manner. The Lincoln County Process, a requirement in order to be called Tennessee Whiskey, is named after the county in which Nearest lived and distilled.
The 313-acre Dan Call farm is now owned by the founders of Uncle Nearest, Inc., an African-American couple, who chose that home as a symbol of a different kind of America—one in which those once owned are now able to own.
Uncle Nearest Whiskey Tasting Notes
In photographing the cocktails, we had the chance to talk to each bartender about their impression of Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey. Here are a few tasting notes we gathered along the way.
A light caramel color with a deep golden hue. On the nose, hay, dried grass, and ripe stone fruit. Spicy caramel was the most common description we heard from the bartenders along with describing a taste that mellows into a maple finish. Oatmeal cookies might come to mind as the long, rich finish lingers into a sweet note of vanilla.
Part of what makes Uncle Nearest whiskey so unique is that it’s the only clear whiskey in the world to undergo triple charcoal mellowing process to produce a smooth, mixable spirit. Our opinion? Cocktail lovers will enjoy Uncle Nearest just as much as whiskey lovers who prefer to sip slow and neat.