After more than a year, the Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee is reopening and ground is being broken for phase II. Members of media were invited to take a virtual tour ahead of the official ceremonies.
Phase II includes a new Welcome Center and Family Tasting Room, among other things.
Master Blender Victoria Eady Butler also shared a new release with virtual participants — a Master Blend Edition version of Uncle Nearest. Butler is a descendant of Nearest Green, the former enslaved man who taught Jack Daniel how to distill.
More than 10,000 guests will join Uncle Nearest on Juneteenth to celebrate the legacy being secured for a ribbon cutting at 9am.
The newest release available at the distillery only is the Master Blend Edition Batch 1, which Butler selected from a batch of barrels that were slated to be blended into Uncle Nearest. It had great notes of cinnamon candy with some subtle sweetness. The nose was fruity. Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast detected notes of grilled pineapple and grapefruit.
Only 1% of the barrels at Uncle Nearest ever make it to the 1820 batch, which pays homage to the historically accepted birthdate of Nearest Green. Another distillery-only release is an 11 year old 1820 bottled at 113.9 proof. It had great leather notes, baking spice, nuts, and distinct notes from the barrel. Sara Havens noted banana note muffin notes.
Victoria Eady Butler was recognized this year as Master Blender of the Year by Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky Awards, and with these blends it is easy to understand why. But Butler says if it wasn’t for what Nearest Green started more than 160 years ago this brand wouldn’t be here today, and she’s honored to carry on her family’s legacy.
In virtual tour of the new visitor center, there were paintings of Nearest Green descendants and bits of history of Tennessee. We learned the history of Tennessee Walking Horses, which were bred to replace the enslaved people who had been used to tend the land when slavery ended. The Uncle Nearest Distillery honors not only Nearest Green’s legacy, but also everything that makes Tennessee Tennessee.
The distillery tour will begin in a “dry speakeasy” where guests will learn about the history of Tennessee’s role in the temperance movement and the suffrage movement. The bottling house is already there, as well as a stable for Tennessee Walking Horses and a “family tasting room.”
“You can’t build a legacy for generations to come if you don’t build a distillery,” says Founder Fawn Weaver. “We are focused on ensuring that Nearest Green’s legacy is cemented for generations to come.”
There’s also a Barrel House Barbecue onsite for people to eat, in addition to a concession stand.
Soon there will be a 15,000 square foot bar called Humble Baron, the longest bar in the world, with an audio setup built by the same person who did the audio engineering for Prince’s Paisley Park. Shortly the stillhouse will be completed, as well. A new piece of property containing multiple buildings that can be retrofitted to become rickhouses will become part of the property in just about two months’ time.
Phase III of IV will all be on the new property. Tours of the operational phases resumes tomorrow, June 19th, 2021, Juneteenth. Distilling onsite is expected to begin in September.
The official cocktail of the Nearest Green Distillery is the Copper Skies.
- 1.5 oz Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey
- .75 oz cinnamon syrup
- .5 oz lime juice
- 1.5 oz coconut water
- top with grapefruit soda
- grated cinnamon
- Garnish: lime or grapefruit