Onkel Nearest Premium Whiskey, a brand that recognizes the world’s first known African-American distiller, and his all-female management team smash stereotypes and break glass ceilings.
Executive director and founder Fawn Weaver said she attributes her company’s success not only to building a workforce that reflects America, but also to inviting all consumers to her table.
“I think we did something that hadn’t been tried before, which is to listen to what we are doing is good enough for everyone and we want to bring everyone to the table … and we saw it I think that is a huge success, “said Weaver, the first African American to run a major liquor brand.
Nathan Green, known to family and friends as “Uncle Nearest,” was a retired Tennessee slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey and is considered Daniel’s first master distiller, mentor, and teacher.
Weaver made his debut at Onkel Nearest Premium Whiskey in July 2017 and in less than two years the company expanded to all 50 states and 12 countries. According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, Onkel Nearest was one of the top five fastest growing U.S. whiskeys in the country by volume growth between 2018 and 2019.
“At the end of 2020, we celebrated our ninth consecutive quarter with triple-digit growth and are on the verge of exceeding that mark again for this quarter, making it our 10th quarter in a row,” said Weaver.
Katharine Jerkens, senior vice president of global sales at Onkel Nearest, told CNBC, “Based on our data, we see that Onkel Nearest’s customer is approximately 50% women. … When we launched Uncle Nearest was the average whiskey / Overall, about 30% of the Bourbon drinkers were women. “
In a Monday night interview on The News with Shepard Smith, Weaver said she was optimistic that the 50% figure would continue to rise.
“We’re happy to see that number, and that number wasn’t nearly that high to begin with. We’ve seen it go up over the past three or four years and I can’t wait for that number to keep going up.” said Weaver said.
One of Green’s descendants also shapes the company. Green’s great-great-granddaughter Victoria Eady Butler is the brand’s master blender and the first female African-American master blender in history. She is also the first black woman to be named Master Blender of the Year by Whiskey Magazine’s whiskey icons.
“To carry on the legacy my great-great-grandfather started … it feels like coming home,” said Eady Butler. “It is the most wonderful responsibility and honor that you can imagine.”