Meet The Master Blender Who Concocted 2020’s Most Awarded Whiskey | Whiskey Raiders
Skip to main content

Meet The Master Blender Who Concocted 2020’s Most Awarded Whiskey

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Victoria Eady Butler, the first known black woman to become a Master Blender, all thanks to her great-great-grandfather, Nathan Green.

Founded by Fawn Weaver, Uncle Nearest is a highly regarded new whiskey, and for a good reason. It was the most awarded American whiskey or bourbon of 2019 and 2020 and landed a spot on Oprah’s coveted Favorite Things List in 2020.

However, one would have to credit the successful, or as some would say legendary flavor, to the master blender, Victoria Eady Butler. Butler did not enter the whiskey scene until 2018, where she retired from her job as an analytical manager and the next week went to work for Uncle Nearest. Weaver’s initial plan was to have each batch of the 1884 Uncle Nearest whiskey be blended by one of Nearest’s descendants, and Butler was the first to step up to the plate.

Jokingly referring to herself as an “Uncle Nearest Purest,” her blending and tasting style stem from her signature rule of not drinking any other kind of alcohol or spirit (accept the occasional cold beer). Also, avoiding eating anything before sampling the Nearest spirits to maintain her palate for the whiskey. However, part of her reasoning is simply that Uncle Nearest is a great whiskey; why drink anything else?

Butler’s role with the distillery doesn’t end with blending. She is also the director of the nonprofit Nearest Green Foundation. The Nearest Green Foundation maintains the legacy that Nathan Green left and offers the Nearest Green Legacy Scholarship. The scholarship provides Green’s descendants with the means to go to college without worrying about how they will pay for it.

Uncle Nearest Whiskey

Image via Uncle Nearest

The simple act of teaching a man to make whiskey changed the course of history

Nathan “Nearest” Green was the man who mentored a young Jack Daniel’s on making great whiskey. Green was enslaved until he was emancipated inJack Daniel

1865. Later, when Jack Daniel went on to begin his own whiskey business, he employed Green as his first master distiller and the first known African American master distiller in American history.

Green was also responsible for teaching Daniel the “Lincoln County Process,”  which is a step in the process of making Tennessee whiskey where the whiskey is filtered through charcoal before going into casks for aging.

Jack Daniel's Whiskey

Jack Daniel’s pictured with Nearest Green’s son, George Green. Jack is in a black vest and white hat, and Green is to his immediate right, in the center of the photo. Image via Jack Daniel’s

Here at Whiskey Raiders, we do more than write about current events in Whiskey. We are the only media property reviewing whiskeys and aggregating the scores and reviews of other great voices in the whiskey world in one place. Check out our Review Archive for reviews and thoughts from our in-house critic. If you’re interested in getting a shot of whiskey in your morning email, sign up for our Daily Dram Gram!

Filed Under:

Follow Whiskey Raiders: