‘Field of Dreams’: Meet the Black-Owned Distillery Named After Former Enslaved Man Who Taught Jack Daniels to Make Whiskey

Uncle Nearest, a rapidly growing Tennessee-based whiskey brand, recently closed on a $2.1 million deal that expands its footprint from 270 acres to 323.12 acres.

The 53.12-acre purchase near Highway 231 in Nashville will help the brand expand into farm distilling, as 100 acres will be used to grow organic non-GMO corn. Uncle Nearest has declared the property a “Field of Dreams.”

Ribbon cutting of Nearest Green Distillery Phase 2 opening (Uncle Dearest IG Page). Photo of George Green, son of Nathan “Nearest” Green seated next to Jack Daniels. (Jack Daniels Distillery/Wikipedia Commons)

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey was founded in 2017 and is named after Nathan “Nearest” Green, a Black formerly enslaved man who reportedly is the first Black master distiller on record and taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey.

The brand was founded by Fawn Weaver, a 45-year-old serial entrepreneur. The Nearest Green Distillery outside of Nashville opened in September 2019 and is the first to be named after a Black person. The distillery closed its doors for more than a year due to COVID-19 restrictions, and recently opened in June.

“When we broke ground, we made history as the first distillery in America to be named after a Black person,” Weaver said in a statement. “Every day, our brand continues to make history and we are finding more and more people wanting to celebrate this history with us at record numbers. Expanding our distillery allows us to increase our production capabilities as well as to continue to enhance the guest experience, so every person who visits has a reason to return again and again.”

The $50 million Shelbyville, Tennessee, distillery hosts guests at a welcome center, speakeasy, barbecue restaurant and tasting room. Tours are run on Saturdays and Sunday’s and can be booked on the Uncle Nearest website.

Weaver told Travel + Leisure in a statement last month, “At Uncle Nearest, everything we do has significance beyond the product we sell — it’s why our main hashtag on social media is #MoreThanWhiskey. We could not be more honored to have the opportunity to share the history of Tennessee, and to couple that with honoring the history of one of the greatest figures in the spirits industry, Nearest Green. It’s a distillery experience unlike any other, and nothing can prepare guests for what they will see when they come to visit.”

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