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Uncle Nearest and Jack Daniel’s mentor Du Nord Spirits

American whiskey brands Jack Daniel’s and Uncle Nearest have revealed Du Nord Spirits as the first graduate of their joint brand mentorship programme, developed to foster diversity in the industry.

Du Nord Spirits was mentored by leaders from Jack Daniel's and Uncle Nearest
Du Nord Spirits is the first graduate of the Business Incubation Program

Nearest Green Distillery and Brown-Forman-owned Jack Daniel’s joined together in 2020 to create the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative (NJAI), pledging US$5 million to encourage diversity within the American whiskey sector.

Under the umbrella of the NJAI, the two brands created the Nearest Green School of Distilling, the Leadership Acceleration Program (LAP) for apprenticeships and the Business Incubation Program (BIP).

The latter programme provides expertise, mentorship and other resources to BIPOC entrepreneurs entering the spirits sector, including access to marketing, branding, expanded distribution networks and opportunities for growth. Du Nord Social Spirits, a small batch distillery based in Minnesota, US, is the first graduate of the BIP.

“Our experience in the Business Incubation Program has been a game-changer, while providing the foundational elements of strong branding and helping us develop a path of growth. Without this program, we would not be in the position we are now,” said Du Nord CEO and head distiller, Chris Montana.

In 2020, Du Nord worked with industry experts to transform its branding identity and packaging, and was mentored by leaders at both Uncle Nearest and Brown-Forman. Through networking opportunities, the distillery increased its sales footprint, and its products are now available to buy in 10 states across the US.

Du Nord also partnered with Delta Air Lines to have its Foundation Vodka available on all domestic Delta flights through the scheme.

Montana added: “Our partnership with Delta Air Lines is only possible thanks to the support from Jack Daniel’s. The Nearest & Jack initiative and Brown-Forman literally made the impossible happen.”

The Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative will soon begin accepting applications for the 2022 BIP through

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