Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, a brand that honors the world’s first known African-American master distiller, and its all-female leadership team are smashing stereotypes and shattering glass ceilings.
CEO and founder Fawn Weaver said that she attributes her company’s success to not only building a workforce that mirrors America but also by inviting all consumers to their table.
“I think that we did something that hadn’t been tried before, which was to essentially say, listen, what we’re making is good enough for everyone and we want to bring everyone to the table … and we’ve seen a great deal of success, I believe, because of that,” said Weaver, the first African American woman to lead a major spirits brand.
Nathan Green, known to family and friends as “Uncle Nearest,” was a former Tennessee slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey and is credited as Daniel’s first master distiller, mentor, and teacher.
Weaver debuted Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey in July 2017, and in less than two years the company expanded into all 50 states and 12 countries. According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, Uncle Nearest was one of the top-five fastest-growing U.S. whiskeys in the country, in terms of volume growth, between 2018 and 2019.
“At the end of 2020, we celebrated our ninth quarter in a row of triple-digit gains and we are about to cross that mark again for this quarter, making it our 10th straight,” Weaver said.
Katharine Jerkens, the senior vice president of global sales at Uncle Nearest, told CNBC, “Based on our data, we are seeing that the Uncle Nearest customer is about 50% women. … When we launched Uncle Nearest, the average whiskey/bourbon drinker was made up of about 30% women, overall.”
In a Monday evening interview on “The News with Shepard Smith,” Weaver said she was optimistic that the 50% figure would continue to grow.
“We’re excited to see that number, and that number was not nearly as high when we began. We have seen that climbing over the last three or four years and I can’t wait to see that number keep going up,” Weaver said.
One of Green’s descendants is also making her mark on the company. Victoria Eady Butler, Green’s great-great-granddaughter, is the brand’s master blender and the first female African American master blender in history. She is also the first Black woman to win Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky for Master Blender of the Year.
“To continue the legacy that my great-great-grandfather started. …It feels like coming home,” Eady Butler said. “It is the most beautiful responsibility and honor imaginable.”