Chattanooga Tennessee Whiskey Festival goes live and wears a hat to the slave who taught Jack Daniel to distill

Photo provided by The Brand Guild / Victoria Eady Butler is the Master Blender at Uncle Nearest Distillery. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Nathan “Nearest” Green, the slave who taught Jack Daniel to make whiskey.

Victoria Eady Butler grew up in Lynchburg, Tennessee, playing in the springs that give Jack Daniel’s whiskey its unique Tennessee flavor.

“It was my playground,” she said.

Throughout her life she has heard her grandmother’s stories of how her great-great-grandfather, Nathan “Nearest” Green, a slave, befriended a young boy. white named Jack Daniel and the two became friends. Eventually, Uncle Nearest taught his new friend how to make whiskey using what has become the Lincoln County process, a unique filtering of bourbon through sugar maple charcoal.

Green’s process became so famous around the world that the state of Tennessee passed a law in 2013 that any product labeled as Tennessee whiskey had to be made with the process.

Butler has always known his ancestor’s role in the making of Jack Daniel’s, but it wasn’t until about three years ago that the rest of the world started hearing about Green’s role. That’s when Fawn Weaver, a bestselling author, launched Uncle Nearest’s premium 1856 whiskey and released the first batch.

Around the same time, Butler was retiring from a 31-year career in government and the two began to speak. Butler said the idea of ​​her becoming a master mixer with the company “aligned perfectly. The conversation was very timely.”

She will share her story, as well as that of her great-great-grandfather, as part of the virtual edition of the Tennessee Whiskey Festival on Sunday, September 13.

The seven-year event will take a year off as an in-person event and will go live this year. It will always be an upscale food and spirits festival and will benefit the Culinary Arts program at Brainerd High School at the Future Ready Institute in Hamilton County.

(READ MORE: Side Orders: Food Matching, Whiskey Gets its Way)

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Ella Livingston is Cocoa Asante’s chocolate maker.

Butler is one of the four quests presented this year for the 4 Virtual Dishes and the Whiskey Supper. Tickets are $ 150 to $ 175. Participants will pick up their food and cocktails from the Proof Bar & Incubator at 422 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the day of the event and watch and chat online as the chefs and master blender discuss their creations from 6 p.m.

Butler said his family has always had a great relationship with Daniel’s descendant and the distillery.

“We all get along really well,” she said, adding that she didn’t really know how important Green’s role was or how popular Jack Daniel’s whiskey was around the world until then. that “I was a student at Middle Tennessee State University. It wasn’t. It just wasn’t a big deal for us. He was a slave, and it was not uncommon for slaves to didn’t get credit for certain things, but the people of Lynchburg knew that. “

The Uncle Nearest Distillery is located just outside Shelbyville, Tennessee, and the product is a blend of seven-year-old whiskeys made elsewhere.

“We’re not distilling there yet,” Butler said. “Our youngest whiskey is seven years old, but the product has been on the market for three years.”

She said it was by no means a Jack Daniel impersonation, but that it follows the Lincoln County process.

“We have no desire to replicate or compete with Jack Daniel’s,” she said. “We do our own thing.”

Other featured guests include Mashama Bailey, Executive Chef and Partner at The Gray in Savannah, Georgia.

James Beard named Bailey “Best Chef of the Southeast 2019” based on the dishes she creates using Southern ingredients, African flavors and European influences. She works with regional seafood, meat and seasonal products. Born in the Bronx, she studied at the New York campus of the Institute of Culinary Education and worked in New York restaurants for many years, although her roots are in Georgia.

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Mashama Bailey is the Executive Chef and Partner of Gray in Savannah, Georgia.

Bailey is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Edna Lewis Foundation, which strives to “revive, preserve and celebrate the rich history of African American cuisine” by cultivating a deeper understanding of the cuisine and culture of the South America.

(SETTING: Opening of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee)

Tannoria Askew was born in Chattanooga and raised in Indianapolis, where she is the owner of Tannoria’s Table. She is a passionate home cook who has become a chef. She also works as a personal chef and TV personality. Finalist in 2016 of Season 7 of “Master Chef” hosted by Gordon Ramsay, Tannoria walked away as the fourth best home cook in America.

Ella Livingston is a chocolate maker for Cocoa Asante in Chattanooga. She was born in Ghana, West Africa, but moved to the United States at the age of 3. After studying abroad, she decided to bring a real taste of Ghana to Chattanooga and started Cocoa Asante, a chocolate truffle company that uses cocoa sourced from Ghana. Livingston has been selling its artisanal truffles direct to local businesses for resale and online to customers since 2018.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite at

Contact Barry Courter at [email protected]

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Tannoria Askew is the owner and chef of Tannoria’s Table in Indianapolis.

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