Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is one of the best feel-good stories of the industry in recent years. Founded in 2017, the brand is based on the life and legacy of Nathan “Nearest” Green, the man who taught Jack Daniel how to make Tennessee whiskey and became the first master distiller at Jack Daniel Distillery.
In December 2022, Ebony magazine called Uncle Nearest “officially the most successful Black-owned distillery in the world.” For a five-year-old label, those are big words. Master blender Victoria Eady Butler, great-great-granddaughter of Nearest Green, has led it to a bevy of industry awards and a significantly higher profile than a startup would normally be able to claim.
I was eager, then, to pick up the new bottle of Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Black Label. It’s one of three limited releases Uncle Nearest put out in recent months, joining the Uncle Nearest Straight Rye and the Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Rye – among the first ryes released by the brand.
The Single Barrel Black Label, released on Black Friday 2022, doesn’t include an age statement. The Uncle Nearest website (and the back of the bottle) says only that “it has the most distinct flavor profile of any of our whiskeys and was bottled at barrel strength to capture every nuance of this one-of-a-kind spirit.”
Tasting Notes: Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Black Label
Vital stats: Mash bill not released, but likely includes at least 51% corn; 121 proof/60.5% alcohol by volume; aged in new American oak; filtered through sugar maple charcoal; no age statement; released at barrel proof; Barrel no. 7 tasted here; MSRP of $79 for a 750 ml bottle.
Appearance: We don’t know long how this whiskey was aged or what the precise blend might be, but the dark-amber color and strong legs on the side of the glass suggest that it spent a decent amount of time in the barrel.
Nose: The first thing that comes to mind is s’mores. I also get snickerdoodle, caramel, and a sugary maple bar. Given the high alcohol content, I would have expected more ethanol. But it’s a sweet, easy-going whiskey on the nose.
Palate: This is a chewy whiskey, rich and sweet. It suggests French toast, cookie dough, and Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food – which, for the uninitiated, is chocolate ice cream with marshmallow and caramel swirls, and a smattering of fish made out of fudge. There’s a buttery sense to it that brings the fudge to mind. The finish is decently long, with something tangy (but not citrusy) hiding underneath.