(*Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey honors the first known Black master distiller Nathan “Nearest” Green who famously taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey)
Both companies are equally supporting the initiative with a combined pledge of $5 million to help create the Nearest Green School of Distilling, develop the Leadership Acceleration Program (LAP) for apprenticeships and establish the Business Incubation Program (BIP) focused on providing resources to African-Americans entering the spirits industry as entrepreneurs.
This joint initiative will be guided by an advisory board with members from both organizations. Motlow State College, the fastest growing college in Tennessee, has worked with leaders from both companies over the past year to develop a curriculum for the Nearest Green School of Distilling.
The STEM-based program is awaiting approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents to begin moving toward accreditation by the institutions accrediting body SACSCOC. The certificate program may be offered as early as Fall 2021.
The Leadership Acceleration Program (LAP) offers apprenticeships specifically to African-Americans already in the whiskey industry who want to become a head distiller, head of maturation or production manager. The inaugural apprentices have already been identified and will begin shadowing at top distilleries throughout the country.
The third arm of the Initiative is the Business Incubation Program (BIP) that offers African-American entrepreneurs mentorship in all areas of the distilling business, including access to top marketing firms, branding executives, expanded distribution networks and 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 Fawn Weaver, CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey.
“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.”
“Given our deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, I am thrilled we are coming together in this way today,” added Lawson Whiting, President and CEO 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.”
For more info on the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative, click here.