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Fastest-growing American whiskey brand in U.S. history

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24/06/2021 Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey wins top awards and secures no. 1 spot at the 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards.

Fawn Weaver has been a serial entrepreneur for nearly 25 years. As the CEO and founder of Grant Sidney, Inc. (GSI), a privately held investment company, Weaver has often been active in her investments, serving in leadership capacities behind the scenes. 

Weaver serves as the CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, a company she founded in 2016, which sits under the Grant Sidney umbrella. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is the fastest-growing American whiskey brand in U.S. history and was the most award-winning American whiskey (including bourbon) of 2019 and 2020, and now also winning the 2021 Bartender’s Spirits Award spirit of the year award.

She is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), a global leadership community of some of the most successful CEOs in the world. Weaver launched her first company, a public relations and special events firm, in 1996. In addition to her firm, from 1998-2003, she served as Partner and Business Manager for G. Garvin's LLC, operator of G. Garvin's Restaurant (named one of the Top 10 New Restaurants by Los Angeles Magazine). 

Weaver developed the business plan, secured development and operational funding, and was business manager for the first four years. Taking a six-year break from entrepreneurialism, to learn what it was like to be the employee rather than the employer, Weaver held a variety of positions in the hospitality sector. She worked as the head of special events and catering for the world-famous Viceroy Hotels and as a General Manager for Dimension Development Co., the operator of more than 50 Marriott and Hilton brand hotels throughout the US. The experience profoundly changed how Weaver invests and manages, focusing on a team-first organization in which she often serves as Chief Encouragement Officer, above all else. Weaver is the founder of the Nearest Green Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that offers full scholarships to every descendant of Nearest Green, the world’s first known African-American master distiller. 

Top 100 On-Premise Spirits website

Through their Operation Brother’s Keeper initiative, the Foundation supplied more than 300,000 N-95 and cloth masks to workers on the frontline and people in disadvantaged communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, in response to the BLM movement, the Foundation formed an alliance with Jack Daniel Distillery to create the Nearest and Jack Advancement Initiative, to elevate people of color within the American whiskey industry and to greatly increase diversity in the spirits industry overall. She formerly served on the executive boards of MEND Poverty and Slavery No More.

Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey Wins The Best Spirit Award at 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards.

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is inspired by the best whiskey maker the world never knew, the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States, Nearest Green. The Uncle Nearest brand, wholly owned by Uncle Nearest, Inc., encompasses a premium aged whiskey, an 11-year-old single barrel product, and a 7-year-old small batch offering, all distilled, aged, bottled and hand-labeled in Tennessee. The whiskey is currently available in all 50 states and 12 countries, in more than 25,000 stores, bars and restaurants.

Victoria Eady Butler, Master Blender for Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey

Victoria Eady Butler is a relatively new face in the spirits world, but whiskey is in her blood. The great-great-granddaughter of Nearest Green, the first African-American master distiller on record, Butler is the Master Blender of the award-winning Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey where she oversees the blending process of its 1884 Small Batch Whiskey as well as the selection of all 1820 Single Barrels. Butler also serves as a member of Uncle Nearest’s executive team and oversees the Nearest Green Foundation, a 501(s)(3) non-profit organization that provides scholarships to Nearest Green’s descendants that is funded, in part, by the sales of Uncle Nearest Whiskey.

Butler blended the very first batch of 1884 Small Batch Whiskey, which launched in July 2019, and was appointed Master Blender in November 2019 after the immense success of the first two batches.

Prior to joining the Uncle Nearest team in March 2019, Butler worked as an Analytical Manager with the Regional Organized Crime Information Center in Nashville, which she joined upon graduating Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Butler had just retired from a more than 30-year tenure when Fawn Weaver, Co-Founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest, approached her about becoming involved in the Uncle Nearest brand. 


The opportunity to carry on her family legacy first-hand and to help to concrete Nearest’s name in history was one that she couldn’t pass up. Butler is a mother, grandmother and a Tennessee native, currently residing in Murfreesboro, TN located just 20 miles up the road from the current Nearest Green Distillery. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and volunteering with several non-profit organizations. She’s also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

With so many spirits brands competing for the back bar space, the medal winners at the third Bartenders Spirits Awards could be the place to look for where spirits are judged by top bartenders and mixologists for the on-premise market of the USA.

The results from the third edition of the Bartender Spirits Awards are now out and here are the highlights from America's leading spirits competition for the bar industry.


David McPhillips Director Beverage Strategy & Innovation for Buffalo Wild Wings, Atlanta, GA, judge at the 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards

The Bartender Spirits Awards judge spirits across the parameters of Mixability, Balance and Versatility, Taste, Mouthfeel and Finish, Package and Price.

This competition recognizes that bartenders are the true influencers – their passions and tastes provide direction for the consumer, especially via their guidance with wine, beer or spirit recommendations. “We really wanted a way to recognize those spirits that would be a great addition to any bar and that are completely on-trend in terms of packaging and price,” said Sid Patel, Founder, and CEO of Beverage Trade Network. “Whether bartenders are looking to plug a very specific gap in their existing spirits inventory, or construct an entirely new cocktail menu from scratch, what better advice could they get than from fellow bartenders?”

Medals were awarded to those spirits that met very specific judging criteria, with a goal of identifying spirits that should become additions to bar inventories. Each spirits brand was evaluated on Mixability, Balance and Versatility, Taste, Mouthfeel and Finish, Package and Price.

Jessica Schjavland at the judging event of 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards

Bartender Spirits Awards was able to resume in-person judging in 2021 where America’s top bartenders came to review brands from more than 45 different countries.

Here are the top winners of the 2021 Bartenders Spirits Awards

Spirit of the Year - Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey

Distillery of the Year - Uncle Nearest

Best Value of the Year - Jean Fillioux Cognac Grande Champagne La Pouyade

Best Package of the Year - Green Hat Gin Citrus Floral Gin

Liqueur of the Year - Amaro Di Angostura

Gin of the Year - Green Hat Gin Citrus Floral

Vodka of the Year - Cylinder Vodka

Tequila of the Year - Espanita Anejo Tequila

World Whisky of the Year - Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey

Brandy/ Cognac of the Year - Jean Fillioux Cognac Grande Champagne La Pouyade

Rum of the Year - Terra Mariae Spiced Rum

View 2021 All Bartenders Spirits Awards Winners

The 2021 competition saw more than 850 submissions from 45 countries. The United States had the top submissions followed by Mexico and France.

"Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the industry,'' explained Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network, the organizing company of BSA, "and when we come out of this, we hope to see a strong rebound in the hospitality sector. The increased number of submissions in 2021 truly demonstrates the faith our industry has in the long term outlook of our hospitality industry".

Winners will also be promoted on BTN’s new direct-to-consumer portals Los Angeles Drinks Guide, London Drinks Guide, New York Drinks Guide, Chicago Drinks Guide,  and San Francisco Drinks Guide along with BTN’s trade portals Bartenders Business and BevRoute.


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The top 100 spirits for bars will also be marketed to thousands of bartenders and mixologists via the Top 100 On-Premise Spirits website.

About the Bartender Spirits Awards

The aim of the Bartender Spirits Awards is to provide independent and honest reviews for brands who are looking to enter the U.S. on-premise industry. The judging panel consists of some of the most renowned names in the U.S. bar industry, all of them with extensive expertise within the on-premise industry. The result is a relevant and practical source of reference for bartenders, bar managers, bar owners, and other industry professionals when making purchasing decisions for their establishments.

Header image credit: Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey

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