Cover Story Narrates Actor’s Investment in the Super Premium Whiskey and His Own Family History With the Spirit
Bourbon+, the quarterly publication telling stories from the heart of bourbon and beyond, announces the launch of its summer 2019 issue with Jeffrey Wright, Emmy Award-winning actor and investor inUncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, the first spirit in history to commemorate an African-American, on its cover. The occasion marks the first time a celebrity has been featured on the cover of the publication since its inception. The latest issue hits newsstands on July 1.
The 10-page cover story, A Taste of History: With Investment in Uncle Nearest, Actor Jeffrey Wright Joins a Whiskey Movement, written by Bourbon+ Editor-In-Chief Fred Minnick, is Wright’s debut interview about his investment in the rapidly growing brand. Wright first learned about Nathan “Nearest” Green’s story in 2016 after reading a New York Timesstory that unveiled the whiskey-maker’s profound contributions to Tennessee Whiskey history. A year later, Wright read another story — this time highlighting Fawn Weaver, CEO, Co-Founder and Chief Historian of Uncle Nearest Whiskey, and her pursuit to bring the contributions of Nearest Green, the first known African-American master distiller, to light. With a similar passion and drive for illuminating great black innovators in history, Wright had already been recounting the story of Green’s legacy in every bar he went to and to everyone he met. To take it one step further and make his storytelling official, Wright had his team reach out to Weaver to ask how he could be part of the movement.
“The beauty of our brand and the celebrities and influencers who have joined our whiskey movement is, in each instance, they sought me out,” said Fawn Weaver. “We’ve never gone out looking for people to endorse our brand, and that is a part of what makes the involvement of incredible people like Jeffrey Wright so amazing. They are doing it from their hearts, and because of their love for and belief in our brand and our commitment to cementing the legacy of Nearest Green for generations to come.”
Wright’s passion for telling Nearest’s story was seen in his narration of the company’s first national television commercial earlier this year, which was groundbreaking in the spirits industry due to its unscripted nature. The commercial, aptly titled “The Why,” followed Uncle Nearest team members to bars, restaurants and spirit shops around the country as they shared this great American story and the brand inspired by it.
Following the commercial, a full-length, short film, “The Story of Nearest Green,” also narrated by Wright, debuted in New York City in March 2019 at the Tribeca Film Center. The actor was on site to speak to attendees, who surprised many with his family’s history in the whiskey business — Wright’s grandfather discretely sold whiskey in the 1950s, with his great-grandmother teaching his grandfather how to distill. It’s these stories that Wright detailed in his conversations with Minnick, and that are relayed in the Bourbon+ cover story.
“When Bourbon+ magazine had the opportunity to interview Jeffrey Wright, I needed to be sure that the ‘James Bond’ star wasn’t just another celebrity spokesperson. And I think Fawn nearly ran out of upper cases and exclamation points when she wrote, ‘HE’S NOT A CELEBRITY SPOKESPERSON!’,” said Fred Minnick. “I quickly learned Mr. Wright was an investor and his soul was deeply connected to Nearest Green. Wright knew his whiskey history too, citing multiple Tennessee Whiskey facts. But what impressed me most was the fact that he’s on a mission to help people remember slaves as Americans. Our country has never recovered from slavery, and early American distillers enslaved people to roll barrels, harvest corn and work at their facilities. While we are just a whiskey magazine, Bourbon+ aims to tell compelling and important stories, and we hope this article helps share the message about how enslaved persons played a major role in American whiskey.”
Wright’s cover and the Uncle Nearest brand reinforce the importance of ensuring that the contributions of minorities to whiskey history are never forgotten. In 2017, Weaver chose to revive and celebrate Nearest Green’s story with his own namesake whiskey – seemingly 160 years in the making – which has since won 34 awards since its debut.
In addition to the feature story, Wright sat down with Minnick to discuss whiskey and more on Bourbon Up, a digital short form interview series where Minnick talks shop with bourbon personalities, master distillers, executive chefs, musicians and artists. The short will be available on Amazon Prime later this year.
The summer 2019 issue of Bourbon+ is available when you purchase a magazine subscription, or on newsstands in select stores throughout the country, including Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Kroger, Whole Foods and other major retailers.
Source: Bourbon+ Magazine