For those new to the lore, Nearest Green is credited about 160 years ago for helping to perfect the Lincoln County process that revolves around the hallmark charcoal-filtration method required in Tennessee whiskey production — as well as having mentored the Jack Daniel. We lightly touched upon some of the backstory in our reviews of Uncle Nearest 1856, first released in 2017, and Uncle Nearest 1884, first released in 2019. Recently, the brand has begun releasing limited Master Blend Editions which are only sold at the distillery.
Note that Uncle Nearest’s whiskeys have always been sourced, blended by master blender Victoria Eady Butler, a fifth generation descendant of Green — until now. The 5th release in the Master Blend Edition series (Blend 005) includes whiskeys that have all been produced, distilled, and aged for 4 years by the distillery. The mashbill includes corn, rye, and barley (but is otherwise undisclosed). This special release was limited to 500 bottles, which sold out immediately on release day at the distillery.
Let’s dive in.
The nose is rich and thick with stewed prunes, toasted vanilla, Port wine, and the faintest hint of buttered candied pecans. The palate unfolds boldly like a Broadway-level medley of sweet, spicy, and nutty/oaky notes that showcase fruitcake and blasts of pepper that fade into a minty tingle, and finishes with notes of biting leather and charred nut shells. It may be too sweet and fruity for some, and too dry and meaty for others, but it playfully bounces between the sweet/spicy/oaky elements and manages to pull back from being both overly oaked or overly dry. With subsequent tastings, the coating of leather softens with notes of toasted grains (wheat and corn) and pleasant accents of cinnamon. In fact, Blend No. 005 seems to echo Uncle Nearest 1820 in hi-definition in all respects, including abv.
This is not a shy whiskey, and it does not offer a soft landing. If you’re drawn to bold flavors, this release will give you plenty to react to and ruminate on. If it’s a little too bold for your liking, try a drop or two of water to proof it down. This would also make for a larger-than-life experience in your Manhattan or Old Fashioned with the extra kick in sweetness and oak. All in all, it’s a promising debut. Future Master Blend Editions will certainly be greatly anticipated, and we are hopeful distribution will expand accordingly, as well.
B+ / $149 / unclenearest.com