Premium whiskey brand Uncle Nearest reopened its 270-acre distillery in June, spotlighting African American, Tennessee, and women’s history in a new space designed to engage visitors of all ages. Following the completion of a $50 million project, Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee, is now inviting guests to a new welcome center, speakeasy, barbecue restaurant, tasting room, and more. It’s the first distillery in the world to commemorate an African American, honoring its namesake, Nearest Green, a formerly enslaved man who is now known as the first African American master distiller on record — he even taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.
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In a statement shared with Travel + Leisure, Fawn Weaver, CEO and founder of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, said, “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.”
Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, a Black- and woman-owned company, is the fastest-growing American whiskey brand, and it’s received numerous awards in recent years — Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey was even named one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2020.
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The new additions to the property have transformed it into a true whiskey destination. The welcome center teaches guests the history of Tennessee whiskey, walking horses, and music, with history narrative walls and retail space inside a renovated former horse show arena. The concession stand, meanwhile, features famous snacks that were created in Tennessee. And through a red refrigerator inside the stand, visitors will find Philo + Frank’s, a non-alcoholic speakeasy that’s designed to educate guests about Tennessee’s role in the women’s suffrage movement and temperance movement. Barrel House BBQ & Brew serves up delicious eats, and the Family Tasting Room offers visitors a taste of Uncle Nearest whiskeys. At the Master Blender House, Victoria Eady Butler, a fifth-generation Nearest Green descendant and the master blender, works to mix the brand’s award-winning whiskeys.
You’ve probably seen that iconic Nashville angel wing mural all over Instagram; muralist Kelsey Montague created a new pair of #WhatLiftsYou wings just for the distillery, so guests have the perfect photo backdrop during their visit. And it doesn’t stop there — later this summer, two additions will open: Humble Baron, an entertainment venue and restaurant that will have the world’s longest bar, and the Nearest Green Still House. There are self-paced and guided tours available at the distillery, and it’s located about an hour outside of Nashville, making it the perfect day trip option for people visiting the Music City.
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If you can’t make it to the distillery just yet, try your hand at mixology and make yourself this delightful cocktail using Uncle Nearest (available for delivery on Drizly) at home.
Copper Skies Cocktail Recipe
1.5 oz. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey
1.5 oz. coconut water
0.75 oz. cinnamon syrup
0.5 oz. lime juice
Build the first four cocktail ingredients in a glass. Add ice and stir. Top with grapefruit soda and grated cinnamon. Garnish with a lime or grapefruit wedge or peel.