The founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, Fawn Weaver, has announced the formation of a $50 million venture capital fund. Intended to seed minority-founded and -owned businesses, the Uncle Nearest Venture Fund will provide financial support and assistance to businesses that are often excluded from traditional funding sources.
Weaver’s business acumen has led Uncle Nearest’s Premium Whiskey to become the fastest-growing American whiskey brand in the U.S., according to a March press release. Now she’s keen to use her experience to boost other Black-owned businesses with capital injections.
The investment fund has already committed $2 million each to two minority-owned businesses: Jack from Brooklyn, and Equiano Rum Company. Jackie Summers, touted as the first Black person with a license to distill in the U.S. post-Prohibition, is the force behind Jack from Brooklyn and its signature Sorel liqueur. Equiano is named for African abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, and the brand is committed to “human rights, diversity, representation, working conditions and sustainability.” The fund is expected to close by the end of June.
While the name Jack Daniels is well known even to those that do not regularly enjoy whiskey, Nathan Green — better known as Uncle Nearest — has remained relatively obscure. Weaver started her brand as a way to honor Green’s contributions to the industry and to racial equality.
Born in 1820 and enslaved in Tennessee, Green became a master distiller, was the first African-American to hold the position, and taught a young Jack Daniels how to distill whiskey before becoming the brand’s initial master distiller. His son, George Green, continued in his footsteps, and seven generations of the family helped catapult the Jack Daniels brand with their whiskey distillation skills.
Now Weaver is leading the way toward a more progressive spirits industry that recognizes the integral role minorities played in distillation and recipe formulation. While the success of her whiskey brand marks an exciting chapter in the world of whiskey, the new venture fund promises the best is yet to come.