Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has announced that Phase One of its highly anticipated Nearest Green Distillery will open on September 14, 2019 in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Named after the first known African-American master distiller, and the whiskey brand’s namesake, Nearest Green, the new distillery is the first in the United States to commemorate an African-American whiskey maker, exemplifying the important contributions he made to whiskey history.
Travelers visiting the Nearest Green Distillery during its Phase One opening can expect to see the first of what is to be built on the 270-acre property, with buildings and experiences continuing to open over the next few years. Once fully open with all phases built out, the Nearest Green Distillery will not only serve as a place where Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is distilled, aged and bottled, but will pay homage to Nearest and the many other innovators and innovations from Tennessee. The distillery has turned the former site of the famous Sand Creek Farms, a Tennessee Walking Horse farm and event center, into a full-blown destination for whiskey enthusiasts, Walking Horse lovers and families.
Phase One of the Nearest Green Distillery will include:
- A Tennessee Walking Horse experience where visitors will not only learn the history of the Walking Horse, but where more than 50 championship walking horses, and horses they sire, will continue to reside at the property.
- The Welcome House, complete with a custom-made horseshoe bar where visitors will learn about and sample Uncle Nearest’s award-winning whiskeys. It will be the only place in the world with tastings of all four expressions: Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey, Uncle Nearest 1884 Premium Small Batch Whiskey, Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey and Nathan Green 1870 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey, an expression previously sold only in the U.K. A second-story Awards Mezzanine was built out to showcase some of the more than 50 awards the brand has already won.
- A Copper Skies Experience where guests can sit in rocking chairs under a covered patio to see the most beautiful sunset in Tennessee. Visitors can sip on Uncle Nearest cocktails from Toppy’s, a connecting bar named after the CEO’s own horse, while watching the colors of the sunset.
- A Full Retail Store, where visitors can purchase custom apparel, rare bottles of Uncle Nearest, and just about anything else Uncle Nearest makes.
- The Bottling House open to the public, allowing visitors to take part in labeling the whiskey sold in the retail store. All four Uncle Nearest offerings will be bottled here.
- A Hard Hat Tour, offered with every premium tasting. This experience walks visitors through the spaces under construction that will open in 2020, such as the single barrel warehouse and tasting room, as well as the Heritage Hall, an impressive collection of all things invented in Tennessee such as NASCAR, miniature golf, Moon Pies and Mountain Dew, with a special focus on Tennessee Whiskey, Walking Horses and country music.
“When I went to write the invitations for the distillery opening, tears began to stream down my face,” says Fawn Weaver, co-founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest. “I’m not a person who cries often, but something about this history just chokes me up. When I wrote the opening line, ‘If Nearest Green could have owned his own distillery, would he have?’ I could only think of this incredible master distiller that likely never had the chance. And posthumously, we are working to ensure his name is cemented in the hearts and minds of people around the world for generations to come. The Nearest Green Distillery is his legacy and that of his descendants. Being able to bring that to life, quite frankly, still blows my mind.”
To build out the Nearest Green Distillery, Weaver has brought together a team of the most reputable designers and builders in the business. The overall design and visitor experience for the Nearest Green Distillery is being overseen by Peggy Noe Stevens & Associates. Peggy Noe Stevens is the first female master bourbon taster, founder of the internationally-acclaimed Bourbon Women, co-founder of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and the woman behind some of the top distillery visitor experiences in the country. Thom Meek of GHP Environmental + Architecture and former Tennessee Walking Horse champion was brought on in 2017 to help bring this distillery vision to life and continues to serve as the architect on the project. Haynes Service Company is building out the corporate offices, Welcome House, single barrel warehouse and tasting rooms, while Lee Adcock Construction has taken lead on building the distillery, bottling house and rick houses.