Finally, my drinking is being sponsored.
A friend who does PR for a distillery sent me a new premium Tennessee whiskey to try out – Uncle Nearest.
Similar to Knob Creek, it makes an excellent Manhattan and, at 100 proof, will warm you up on a cold day.
Made from Tennessee grain, filtered through charcoal and aged in oak barrels, it tastes like bourbon but is technically not a bourbon for legal reasons.
But what’s most interesting is the story behind the spirit – Uncle Nearest honors Nathan “Nearest” Green, the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States.
Born a slave, Green worked for Dan Call, a farmer, preacher and whiskey maker. When young Jack Daniel wanted to learn the tricks of the trade, Call instructed Green (now a free man) to teach him.
Jack Daniel called Green, “the best whiskey maker the world never knew.”
Author Fawn Weaver, who has been researching the Green family, and recently launched the Nearest Green Foundation, met with his descendants.
“I asked them what they thought was the best way to honor Nearest,” Weaver said. “Their response was, ‘No one owes us anything. We know that. But putting his name on a bottle, letting people know what he did, would be great.’”
When you drink whiskey, you’re drinking history, American water and grain aged in barrels until it becomes magic. The forgotten story behind Nearest Green just adds to the experience of enjoying this new spirit.