Uncle Nearest Becomes Top-Selling African-American Owned Whiskey Brand

By Robert Ham / March 15, 2021

After only four years of operation, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey announced recently that it has become the best-selling African-American-owned and founded spirit brand in history.

The Shelbyville, Tennessee distillery has had nine straight quarters of triple digit gains, with its three core whiskies—1884 Small Batch Whiskey, 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey, and 1820 Single Barrel Edition—available in more than 21,000 locations.

“No African-American-founded and led spirit brand has come close to what the Uncle Nearest brand and team have done,” Donn Bischel, founder of 3 Tier Beverages, a spirits data collection and analysis company, said in a prepared statement. “We analyzed every piece of credible data and Uncle Nearest is undoubtedly the top seller of all time, with the rest of the top 10 being so far behind that they barely registered.”

Uncle Nearest

the Uncle Nearest whiskey brand (image via Uncle Nearest)

Since 2017, Uncle Nearest has achieved exponential growth in the whiskey marketplace. Less than two years after opening their doors, the distillery’s bottles could be found in all 50 U.S. states. And these days, the whiskey is being shipped to a total of 148 countries around the world.

Led by master blender Victoria Eady Butler, a fifth generation descendent of the company’s namesake, Nearest Green, the whiskey has also been racking up awards along the way, including back-to-back “World’s Best” honors from Whisky Magazine and a double gold at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirit Competition. Whisky Magazine also bestowed Butler with an award for Master Blender of the Year.

“I couldn’t be more excited that this announcement is coming on the heels of International Women’s Day, given that we are the only major spirit brand with an all-female executive team,” said Butler. “Reaching this achievement at this moment in time is important as it reminds folks that whiskey is the great equalizer. The support this brand has received has been across every race and gender. As it turns out, people just care that it’s a damn good whiskey, only matched by the remarkable legacy of my ancestor.”

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The growth of Uncle Nearest has slowed a touch toward the end of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Making sure that their bottling facilities and distillery were following guidelines to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 meant that they were only able to sell 120,000 cases in the fourth quarter of the year. That still puts them on track to hit a 10th quarter of more than 100% growth over the previous year.

Things are only set to get even better for Uncle Nearest as they also recently announced that, after increasing their shipping and bottling at their distillery location in Shelbyville, they are on track to sell 250,000 cases of whiskey this year.