Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, the fastest-growing and best-selling Black-owned spirit brand in all of U.S. history, has just announced a multi-million dollar initiative to give back to its fellow spirits brands.
According to a press release, the award-winning whiskey brand has launched a $50 million venture fund designed specifically to invest in rapidly growing, minority-founded and owned spirit brands. The announcement was deliberately timed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the destruction done to Black Wall Street in Tulsa, OK.
“On June 1, 1921, an entire community of wealthy and successful African Americans was wiped out in a matter of hours. We are talking about 35 square blocks known as Black Wall Street,” Uncle Nearest founder/ CEO Fawn Weaver said in a statement. “As an African American, learning about that history broke my heart because we, as a people, were really onto something in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We were lifting one another up and creating wealth within our own community, and then showing others how to do it for themselves. We cannot go back and undo the past, but I do believe we have full power over our future, and that recreating a Black Wall Street of sorts within the spirits industry is a great place to start.”
So far, the new fund has already chosen its first two investments in which each company will receive an initial amount of funding of $2 million. The first is London-based brand Equianom, the world’s first Afro-Caribbean rum — and the second is Jack From Brooklyn, Inc., the first-known Black-owned distillery in America post-prohibition.
Black-owned and founded spirits companies in America have only just begun to receive outpouring support from consumers consciously trying to buy Black. Uncle Nearest’s new fund will now make it possible to better support these brands and open more doors for more Black and brown folks in the alcohol business.
“America consists of approximately 40 percent people of color, but they own an incredibly small percentage of spirit brands,” Lindsay Held, CEO and co-founder of ReserveBar — the established leader in premium spirits e-commerce — shared in a press statement. “We have to work collectively to change that so that we can unlock opportunity for all. We are committed to working with every minority-owned brand in the Uncle Nearest Venture Fund.”
In speaking with Weaver last year, she told AfroTech her intentions behind Uncle Nearest’s targeted initiatives are to create more solutions and opportunities for Black people in the spirits industry.
“We have to make being in this industry cool, we have to make it feel virtuous for us,” she said. “Because I think Black people’s unwillingness to enter into the industry is an entirely subconscious bias. It does not make sense that I, an African American woman leading a legacy brand centered on an African American man, receive applications from white people 99.9% of the time.”
“I didn’t come into this industry to cement my name,” she adds. “I entered into this industry to help cement Nearest’s name well after I’m gone, and more diverse, talented people will help do that. If nobody remembers me, I don’t care. That’s how I’m wired, and I’m okay with that.”
For more information and updates about Uncle Nearest, visit its website.