Uncle Nearest Master Blender Talks Whiskey, Family Legacy
Skip to main content

Sign up for the brand-new Whiskey Raiders Bottle of the Month Club!


More to Enjoy

  • Tequila Raiders
  • Rum Raiders
  • Gin Raiders

First Black Woman Master Blender, Victoria Eady Butler, Talks Whiskey and Family Legacy

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Uncle Nearest’s 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.

The credit for the successful, or as some would say, legendary flavor, all goes to the master blender, Butler. Butler did not enter the whiskey scene until 2018, when 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 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). She also avoids eating anything before sampling the Nearest spirits to maintain her palate for the whiskey. Part of her reasoning, however, is simply that Uncle Nearest is a great whiskey; why drink anything else?

Uncle Nearest

Image via Uncle Nearest.

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.

Butler’s Family Legacy

Uncle Nearest

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.

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

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!

This post may contain affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site. This helps support Whiskey Raiders at no additional cost to you.

Filed Under:

Follow Whiskey Raiders:

Madison Kopta is an editor at Whiskey Raiders. As a Northern California native and mom of four, Madison spends much of her time enjoying the great outdoors with her family. From camping to keeping an eagle eye out for Bigfoot, you can find Madison in nature, enjoying a glass of whiskey with her husband.