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Uncle Nearest appoints ‘first’ African-American master blender

Tennessee whiskey brand Uncle Nearest has named Victoria Eady Butler as its master blender, believed to be the “first known” African-American person to hold the title.

Victoria Butler is the great-great-granddaughter of the whiskey brand’s namesake, Nearest Green

Butler is the great-great-granddaughter of the whiskey brand’s namesake, Nearest Green, who was the first African-American master distiller.

“It’s difficult for me to put into words what the creation of this brand has meant to me and my family,” Butler said.

“Being able to contribute to my great-great-grandfather’s whiskey-making legacy as master blender is an honour, as well as a great responsibility. It feels like I’m picking up right where he left off and I am ready.”

Currently, Butler is a member of Uncle Nearest’s executive team and oversees the Nearest Green Foundation, which provides scholarships to Nearest Green’s descendants.

In her new role, Butler will oversee the blending process of all batches of Uncle Nearest 1884 Premium Small Batch Whiskey as well as the selection of all future iterations of Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey.

Butler became part of the Uncle Nearest team in March 2019 following retirement from a 31-year career within the Department of Justice. Since joining the brand she has curated the release of the first two batches of Uncle Nearest 1884 whiskey.

Fawn Weaver, co-founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest, said: “I remember watching Victoria the first time she entered the blending and tasting room. She was intimidated by the 30 different barrel selections at first, but by the end it was as if she’d been doing this her entire life — the whiskey business is definitely in her blood.

“She proved to us all very early on that she was doing exactly what she was meant to do. Our entire team is grateful and honoured to be here during this time in history when we’ve been given the opportunity to witness the continuation of Nearest Green’s legacy through his bloodline.”

The American whiskey brand opened the doors to its Nearest Green Distillery in Tennessee in September.

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