Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, the super-premium whiskey from Tennessee, is thrilled to announce today that they have been named Wine Enthusiast’s Spirit Brand of the Year for the 2020 Wine Star Awards. The whiskey, which is the most-awarded American whiskey or bourbon of 2019 and 2020, is the first-ever spirit from Tennessee to receive this title.
Uncle Nearest is a company that is more than whiskey, and has continued to break barriers since its inception. Launched in 2017, the brand is the first in the spirit industry’s history to commemorate an African-American, the first known African-American master distiller, Nearest Green. The company’s founder and CEO Fawn Weaver is the first African-American to lead a major spirit brand, and last year, Victoria Eady Butler – Nearest Green’s great-great-granddaughter – was named Uncle Nearest’s Master Blender. In this role she became the first African-American female master blender of a major spirit brand.
In terms of breaking barriers, 2020 has been no different for the company, which operates with an all-minority board and executive leadership team. Uncle Nearest made headlines earlier this year when it announced the co-creation of the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative, a first-of-its-kind effort to further diversity within the American whiskey industry. The not-for-profit initiative consists of three arms: the Nearest Green School of Distilling, the Leadership Acceleration Program (LAP) for apprenticeships, and the Business Incubation Program (BIP), focused on providing expertise and resources to Black entrepreneurs entering the spirits industry.
“In recognizing Uncle Nearest as Spirit Brand of the Year, Wine Enthusiast has reiterated to the world that our work is far more meaningful than simply selling great whiskey,” said Weaver. “People are often in awe of the energy displayed by our team members in the field and wonder what is behind such passion. It’s because our team knows we aren’t just in the whiskey-selling business, although we do that quite well! But rather, we are in the legacy-cementing business. We’re not only ensuring the legacy of Nearest Green is known by every future generation, we’re also helping others create their own legacies in this business while simultaneously helping to diversify the American whiskey industry so it more closely resembles America.”
This year marks the 21st anniversary of Wine Enthusiast’s Annual Wine Star Awards, honoring the individuals and companies that make outstanding contributions to the wine and alcohol beverage world. The winners, plus special awards for Lifetime Achievement Award and American Wine Legend, will be announced in the magazine’s Best of Year issue. Uncle Nearest was nominated for a spot on the acclaimed list by Wine Enthusiast’s comprehensive media staff and full-time contributing divisions, and awarded the top honor by the magazine’s Executive Publishing team based on the brand’s impact in the spirits category, commercial success, company vision, and trendsetting.
“Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has proven to be a true industry darling for more reasons than one,” stated Chairman and Publisher of Wine Enthusiast, Adam Strum. “Its namesake is dedicated to Nearest Green, a formerly enslaved Black man who distilled whiskey in the 19th century. This incredible American backstory is matched only by the quality of the spirit itself, and Uncle Nearest has now become the fastest-growing independent American whiskey brand in U.S. history. It is for these reasons that we are thrilled to award Uncle Nearest the coveted Wine Star for Spirit of the Year.”
Uncle Nearest will officially receive the Spirit Brand of the Year award at a virtual event scheduled for January 2021. Earlier this week, the whiskey was also honored with a coveted spot on O, The Oprah Magazine’s Oprah’s Favorite Things list for 2020.
To learn more about Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, visit www.unclenearest.com, and follow on Instagram and Facebook @unclenearest.