Last week, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and the Nearest Green Distillery announced the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative, a program designed to promote diversity and Black leadership in the American whiskey industry.
According to PRNewswire, the joint initiative, between the two Tennessee distilleries, will give $5 million combined toward providing expertise and resources to Blacks entering the spirits industry as entrepreneurs.
The money will be allocated to create the Nearest Green School of Distilling, whose STEM-based curriculum is being developed in partnership with Motlow State Community College.
In addition, the pledge will offer apprenticeships specifically to African-Americans already in the whiskey industry via the Leadership Acceleration Program (LAP) and establish the Business Incubation Program (BIP), which will provide access to top marketing firms, branding executives, expanded distribution networks, plus other assets and opportunities to grow their spirits businesses.
“Generally, when companies talk about the need to improve diversity, few immediate action steps follow,” said Uncle Nearest CEO Fawn Weaver. “Our group is different. We are doers, and we all agreed to work together to improve diversity in our industry, and specifically, a way to get African Americans into top positions within our industry. Nearest Green taught Jack Daniel how to make Tennessee whiskey and we’re incredibly proud our companies are joining forces to further their legacies of excellence, and to make distilling and the whiskey industry we love more diverse.”
Uncle Nearest is a premium whiskey brand that honors Nathan “Nearest” Green, the first African-American distiller who, while enslaved, taught distilling techniques to Jack Daniel. The Tennessee-based spirit is the first brand ever to commemorate an African-American and the first led by a Black woman, reports Forbes.
“Given our deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, I am thrilled we are coming together in this way today,” said Lawson Whiting, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brown-Forman Corporation, the parent company of Jack Daniel’s. “This collaboration allows the extraordinary friendship of Nearest and Jack, and the hope they embodied during racially divided times in our country’s history, to help us advance the next generation of African American leaders in our industry.”