Nearest & Jack Advancement launches Spirits on the Rise Summit

a historic photo of the Jack Daniel's crew featuring Nearest Green's son, George
This historic photo of a Jack Daniel’s crew pictures Nearest Green’s son, George Green, seated to the left of Jasper Newton Daniel or Jack Daniel, as he’d come to be called. According to local historians, no photos of Nearest still exist. The two companies partnered in 2020 on the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative to advance diversity within the American whiskey industry. (Photo Courtesy of the Jack Daniel Distillery)

The Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative (NJAI) — the first-of-its-kind incubator for diversifying the current and future leaders in the whiskey industry, — recently announced its first-ever Spirits on the Rise Summit. The two day event, taking place on April 17 and 18 aims to combat the imbalance set upon BIPOC businessmen and businesswomen in spirits and will bring together spirits industry entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities as they work to advance their businesses.

Throughout the summit, attendees will have unprecedented access to industry experts from NJAI founders Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey and Jack Daniel’sTennessee Whiskey, as well as leaders from companies like Hyatt Hotels, Breakthru Beverage, ReserveBar, and Republic National Distributing Company to learn more about investment and finance, distribution, route to market, networking, and community. The event will allow the NJAI to expand its impact beyond its existing programs – the Leadership Acceleration Program, the Business Incubation Program, and the Nearest Green School of Distilling – to further assist founders as they enter and progress in the spirits industry.

“When we launched the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative in 2020, our goal was to advance diversity within the American whiskey industry and we’re thrilled to see the first group of graduates come through the program,” said Jamie Butler, Jack Daniel’s Global Brand Director. “The Spirits on the Rise Summit expands upon the key tenants of this initiative and gives us the opportunity to increase the amount of BIPOC entrepreneurs we are able to support and educate in a multitude of areas.”

The NJAI is inspired by the historic and storied relationship between two pioneers of Tennessee Whiskey, Nearest Green and Jack Daniel, and sees to it that the future of the spirits industry is diverse and dynamic. Since its founding, the NJAI has presented professional opportunities to BIPOC-owned spirits ventures by committing millions of dollars towards providing access to the education and resources needed to be successful in a predominantly white-owned and led spirits industry.

“Over the past three years, the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative has worked on three tenets: helping to support up and coming BIPOC-owned brands, ensuring that we see more visible leaders of colors in every sector of our industry, and ensuring that we have attainable education around distillation and the spirits business,” said Katharine Jerkens, Chief Business Officer of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey. “The Spirits on the Rise Summit is an opportunity to bring together entrepreneurs and key leaders in the industry to network and educate so that we can continue our mission of building a more diverse and inclusive industry.”

The impact of the initiative’s work can be seen through the first three graduates of their incubator programming: Du Nord Social Spirits, the inaugural graduate of the Business Incubation Program, along with Tracie Franklin and Byron Copeland, the first two individuals to complete the Leadership Acceleration Program.

“This event is a testament to how far we’ve come in a short amount of time, and I couldn’t be more excited to see the new faces of our industry at the Summit,” said Chris Montana, Founder of Du Nord Social Spirits. “Du Nord’s involvement in the NJAI has allowed us to improve our business model, grow significantly, and compete nationally. I cannot overstate how critical this program has been to us as a business and to me personally.”

To RSVP and for more information on the summit, please visit •

The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus yon 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.}