Nearest Green Distillery releases first rye whiskey

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — It travelled from Canada through New York before landing in southern, middle Tennessee but the Nearest Green Distillery’s latest offering, an American-style Straight Rye Whiskey, is already creating a buzz. Distillery officials announced the new release on September 17 and say it recently earned a Gold Medal at one of the most prestigious spirits competitions in the world. Which one? Well, unfortunately that information still sits under a press embargo.

The new rye whiskey is only available at the Shelbyville distillery. (Photo Provided)

Founder Fawn Weaver launched the brand in 2017 to celebrate a Lynchburg legend, Nathan “Nearest” Green (otherwise known locally as Uncle Nearest), the formerly enslaved Black man credited with teaching Jasper Newton Daniel how to make Tennessee whiskey using The Lincoln County Process in which whiskey is filtered through maple charcoal to remove impurities.

Rye whiskey largely disappeared following Prohibition but it’s made a comeback recently based on increasing consumer demand. The official name of the new Nearest Green offering is quite the mouthful, Uncle Nearest Uncut/Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey, and it took a bit of a journey to get to southern, middle Tennessee. Originally produced in Canada and aged in New York, the distillery says they produced the whiskey “to the exact American specifications required to be a straight rye whiskey” that includes a mash bill of at least 51 percent rye grain and distilled at no more that 160 proof. All straight rye whiskey must also be aged in new, charred oak barrels and introduced into the barrel at under 62.5 percent alcohol or 125 proof.

Distillery official say Master Blender Victoria Eady Butler – a direct descendent of Nearest Green – personally chose the barrels for this first iteration. Eady Butler is the first back-to-back winner of Whisky Magazine’s American Icons of Whisky Blender of the Year Award and the first female to ever take home the prize.

“My great-great-grandfather was known for his whiskey filtration method. But this 100 percent rye is so spectacular, we dared not cut or filter it,” she states on the bottle label.

Eady Butler says the new rye is just one of several rye innovation in the pipeline for Nearest Green including a Straight Rye and a Single Barrel Rye.

Whiskey lovers will need to travel to the Shelbyville distillery to snag a bottle but it’s worth the trip. The Times staff tasted Uncle Nearest Uncut/Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey and it’s got a typical rye spice but with undertones of fall fruits like apples and maybe even berries. It would be perfect neat with a couple of ice cubes or in an Old Fashioned.

It’s bottled at 52.9 percent ABV and the whiskey is priced at RRP US$149.

The Nearest Green Distillery is located at 3125 Highway 231 in Shelbyville. It’s a 323-acre, $50 million build out that continues to grow each year. It’s the only place you can buy Master Blend Editions like the new rye. They open Thursday through Sunday. To learn more, visit their website by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}