“Uncle Nearest” may sound like a moniker produced by a whiskey name generator, but it’s actually tied to a real, woefully under-looked figure in whiskey history. Nathan “Nearest” Green was an African-American distiller who helped develop the famed Lincoln County Process of charcoal filtering in post-Civil War Lynchburg, Tennessee. He even worked with (and possibly trained) Jack Daniel, so his contribution to American whiskey-making can’t be overstated.
Fortunately, Mr. Green’s legacy is now an official part of Jack Daniel’s distillery tours, his recognition long-overdue. And now, he’s got a whiskey.
The powers behind Uncle Nearest 1856 worked with two undisclosed Tennessee distilleries to produce the 100-proof whiskey that bears his name. It’s filtered through sugar maple charcoal (that’s the Lincoln County Process mentioned above), and aged for an unspecified amount of time in new American oak barrels.
It has a medium-gold, burnished color and contains spice, oak and sweet corn on the nose. It is initially tame, considering its high ABV, and begins with light vanilla. It has a round body and is warm, though never hot, on the tongue. The vanilla is joined by oak at the center, and immediately followed by dark fruit and caramel. That’s when a patient spiciness enters that builds itself up with admirable slowness. As this slow-burn finish rolls out, a final note of dry, toasted biscuit arrives to escort the spices to their tongue-tingling conclusion.
Uncle Nearest is a bold, potent whiskey that’s in no rush to show off its strength and flavor. That makes it an enjoyable slipper. If it possess any great fault, it’s an issue to be found outside of the bottle: the $59.95 price tag seems steep for a non-age statement whiskey that provides such sparse information about its contents, particularly when compared to similarly priced whiskeys.
— 50% ABV