Tell Us Something We Don't Know

#30: Love & Whiskey

September 28, 2023 Gabriela Tavakoli Bailey & Orly Minazad/Fawn Weaver Season 1 Episode 30
#30: Love & Whiskey
Tell Us Something We Don't Know
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Tell Us Something We Don't Know
#30: Love & Whiskey
Sep 28, 2023 Season 1 Episode 30
Gabriela Tavakoli Bailey & Orly Minazad/Fawn Weaver

Fawn Weaver went from being a homeless teenager to being an author and serial entrepreneur who founded Uncle Nearest, the fastest growing American whiskey and bourbon in U.S history.  She holds the distinction of being the first non-celebrity Black American woman to spearhead the creation of a billion-dollar enterprise. Fawn shares her unique outlook on life and how she was able to take the story of Uncle Nearest, a slave distiller for Jack Daniel's, and turn it into a company that will seal Uncle Nearest's legacy. 

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Show Notes Transcript

Fawn Weaver went from being a homeless teenager to being an author and serial entrepreneur who founded Uncle Nearest, the fastest growing American whiskey and bourbon in U.S history.  She holds the distinction of being the first non-celebrity Black American woman to spearhead the creation of a billion-dollar enterprise. Fawn shares her unique outlook on life and how she was able to take the story of Uncle Nearest, a slave distiller for Jack Daniel's, and turn it into a company that will seal Uncle Nearest's legacy. 

Fawn's Instagram:

Stay up to date with Tell Us Something We Don’t Know on Instagram

You can contact us at

Please rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts - thank you!

Gabriela had first heard Fawn's story on the How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz and was hooked. And in true Gabriela fashion, she was not going to rest until she got Fawn to come on as a guest. When we finally sat down with her, we quickly saw how her journey to find Uncle Nearest Whiskey had more twists and turns than Jada and Will Smith's marriage.

And then there's Fawn's personal upbringing, from being homeless at 15, to running a business, to meeting her husband through his mother. If you know anything about us, you know that love stories are catnip to Gabriela. And of course the story of a woman –  of color especially – lifting herself by the bootstraps to become a successful entrepreneur and simultaneously sealing the legacy of a forgotten slave who is responsible for the notoriety of Jack Daniels is just exceptional. 

I loved the story of Uncle Nearest and how Fawn wasn't just inspired by the story for as long as her caffeine high lasted (which is usually the case with me). But she actually followed up based on this one article and picture of Jack Daniels and George Green (Uncle Nearest's son), ended up buying the distillery and then launching the first whiskey brand owned by a black woman. Who just does this? 

This question was really at the root of everything we wanted to know about her. How does someone muster up so much confidence, fearlessness, and of course money to pull this off. 

The answer is you have to be someone like Fawn Weaver, who is not afraid of failure or rejection, two conditions that absolutely plague me. Most people are often handicapped by the voices in their own heads convincing them they can't or shouldn't do something. Here's all the worst case scenarios. Not Fawn though. Her drive to meet her goals is honestly inspiring.

Some quick backstory. Fawn left her house when she was 15 and moved to shelters. Her father, Frank Wilson, was a Motown songwriter and producer. Her parents decided the industry wasn't for them and left the music business to get into the religion business. He became a minister and gave Fawn an ultimatum when her little sister was born; behave or leave. And she chose to leave. I don't mean to make this about me, but I would have stayed and done whatever they told me because at 15 I did not have the wherewithal to learn to live on my own and be responsible for myself. But Fawn chose to leave because rules did not apply to her. It's like she was born an adult who'd already read every self help book and absorbed it all by the time she was 5.

So she lived in shelters and eventually at 18 started working as an intern for a PR company. She was so good at it that she ended up opening her own company and then immediately running out of money. But what a great lesson to learn at 18. Still cheaper than grad school.

It's a blank to me what she did between then and meeting her husband. Probably more hustling because it seems like she never stops. She met Keith, her husband of 20 years, through his mother. Before launching Uncle Nearest, Fawn actually wrote books about being a happy wife, The Happy Wives Club. 

Gabriela and I are both married so naturally we asked for some relationship advice or what Fawn believes is the most essential factor in a happy marriage based on her extensive research and interviews and you know what, I don't remember any of it because I ultimately don't think self help books apply to everyone.

I do remember one thing she said, which is that having a routine together is important. Whether it's waking up at 5 am to work out together (hard pass) or having a night cap together before bed, a moment of undivided attention between one another is a great way to check in and connect. 

I'm proud to say I practice this with my husband. Every night we put on a show – this week it was the David Beckham documentary – and he falls asleep on the couch and I keep talking because I don't realize he's fallen asleep and then I eventually realize and go to bed. It keeps our marriage alive.

But this is getting away from me. We started with Whiskey and somehow led to marriage counseling. This is usually how our episodes go and by now Gabriela would jump in and get us back on track. 

Ultimately what I learned from or about Fawn is that she is a different species and I will never be like her. But I can try to channel the fearlessness she actively practices and repeat to myself the mantra that we deserve to be happy and successful. In marriage or our big career dreams.

-ORLY MINAZAD, Co-Host of Tell Us Something We Don't Know Podcast

 I'm Gabriela Tavakoli Bailey, and I've worked in unscripted television as an executive producer and TV executive doing what I love most, storytelling. I'm an extremely curious person, and I decided to do this podcast so I can dig in and learn about fascinating people living extraordinary lives. And I called up my very talented friend, Orily Minazad, who is a writer and journalist, and together we are going to learn about people's journeys and provide you with a fun listen and a good time.

Welcome to Tell Us Something We Don't Know.


Today's guest is Fawn Weaver. Fawn is an author and serial entrepreneur who in 2016 founded Uncle Nearest, the fastest growing American whiskey and bourbon in U S history. She holds a distinction of being the first non celebrity black American woman to spearhead the creation of a billion dollar enterprise.

I first heard about Fawn on the podcast, How I Built This, and was in awe of her talents, journey, and story behind growing this company from the ground up. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has emerged as an industry leader fueled by Fawn's transformative vision and leadership. We are so honored to have her as a guest.

Welcome Fawn!

Hello, Fawn.

Thank you. Thank you. So first question, very important one, which is how early is too early to have a glass of whiskey?

It's always five o'clock somewhere.

Yeah. How many times you get asked that question, right?

don't get, I don't get it asked that often, but I was just speaking in Brooklyn at this Trinet event and I think I was on at 11 o'clock or something and they're like, is it too early to have whiskey? I'm like, no. And you just became my favorite speaking engagement because you're giving me whiskey.

So there you go.

There you go.

I mean, it just depends. Especially if you're in Ireland, everybody wakes up with Irish coffee.

Oh my god.

Whiskey from like the moment they wake up to the time they go to bed. So it just depends on, on your culture.

 So tell us, there's so much we want to talk about, but how let's take it back. So where did you grow up?

Pasadena, California.

Pasadena. So, so you grew up in Pasadena and what your, I believe your father well, your parents were kind of in the music business.

Is that right? Or your dad

my father was, my, my mother was just absolutely stunning. So she, she landed a, that was her contribution and she was absolutely stunning.


My, my father was one of the original hit makers for Motown. So he began his, his career in LA. And then when Barry Gordy founded Motown, he asked for my father to come to Detroit, which he did.

And then leading up to the Detroit riots. Barry had the foresight to know that it was going to come to a head. And he asked my father and two other Motown execs to go open an office in LA. So then he went back to LA not, not long before I was, I was born, but my father, a lot of people attribute sort of his, his status as, as Motown royalty, if you will, to, to my life, but growing up, I really.

All these Motown people around the house all the time, but it's because he was doing either marriage counseling for them, or he had become sort of their minister through the year that I was born by the year before I was born, my father decided not to sign another contract with, with Motown and to go into full time ministry.

And so I grew up the child of a preacher's kid that just happened to have a lot of celebrities around the house. I didn't grow up the child of a Motown hit maker. So that's, that's I think a pretty big difference.

that's a huge leap from being a music mogul to

No kidding.


And he didn't make the leap great either. You know,


it's the irony of people who leave the industry and decide to go into ministry. You see this happen in the entertainment industry all the time, where they feel called of God, but they don't put their finances in order before they do it. So I was very much so born into transition of going from this all glass house at the top of Hollywood Hills To Pasadena, and it was a beautiful home, but it was, it was based on, you know, income statements of the year before versus the current year.

Right? So we, we had a beautiful home, but we didn't have a whole lot of furniture in it. We certainly did not have a lot of money to go around. There's that. That was our outflow was much greater than our income. That's for sure. When I was growing up.

All right. Let's shift a little bit. To when you were 15.

My, my mother had a my little sister, we're 15 years apart. And when she was born, they really wanted to have the opportunity to raise her without. Influence and I, I definitely think they saw me as a negative influence at that time because I questioned everything. And when I say everything, I mean, everything they're in ministry, but they could not share a scripture with me without me questioning.

And so, you know, I'm sending them to go to get the origin and Greek and Latin and they're like, you're a child. You should just be listening. And I tell parents all the time when you have a child that is, is, is outspoken, that challenges everything, that questions everything, that leads, do everything you can to take care of that child because they're the ones who are going to be paying for you in your older years.


Hands down.

you see it that way. I'm going to be much nicer to my kid.

You, I mean, those, those kids that are the leaders. When you get to that other side of 65 and you need someone to be paying for you and helping you and all the rest of that, it's always that kid.


And, and so being able to those who are, who have kids like that, that look at them and say, okay, I'm going to develop them.

I'm going to develop them. It will bode very well for both the child and the parent. But it does take a lot of patience, and I understand now that they were thrust into this limelight in the Christian world, and I remember watching the, the, the Christian world do this with R.

Kelly, that when he came out with this album, that one half of it was, you know, his normal music. The other half was a full gospel album. All of a sudden, all these black churches were throwing him into the pulpit. So he's preaching and I'm like does anybody want, does anybody want to listen to side A of the album? I appreciate that y'all are falling in love with I Believe I Can Fly, but does anybody


Just saying.

other side of this. And so. But that's that's sort of been the history of the black churches. We get so excited when someone entertainment decides they're going to become a Christian and they're going to be out there. We thrust them into the pulpit. We put them and they're all the rest of the stuff.

Well, for my parents that happened. And then you're having children in the middle of this, and you are more concerned about how people think you are parenting than you actually are in your parenting and what your children think. And so that's not unique to my parents. I think that's across the board. You see that a lot with preacher's kids, right?

Most preacher's kids have massive scars, massive wounds. And I think that my saving grace was the fact that they gave me an ultimatum at 15 when my little sister came, which was either do this our way or leave.

And so you, and so you left.

like, two seconds to say, I'm out.

So where did you go?

I went to the hood. I went to, there were some kids that, that lived in Jordan Downs, which is the projects in Watts.

And I knew they didn't have rules. And I had lived a life of non stop rules and vacation Bible study for summer,

Oh my

know, out playing with kids and only wearing skirts and dresses because the pastor interpreted the scripture. That said, men are not to wear anything pertaining to women, women are to wear anything pertaining to men, to, to women can't wear shorts or pants.

So, we're, this was, this was my upbringing, so it did not take me it didn't take me a whole lot to, for them to just kind of push me. Out the door. That was a, a very easy decision for me. And so what was most appealing to me is the kids that were in school that, that, whose parents didn't give them rules.

And they lived in Jordan Downs and in Nickerson Gardens, both in Watts. And so that's where, that's where I moved. But that wasn't a good fit for me over time. Because you're talking to me now, but if you had a conversation with me when I was 15, you're basically talking to the same person. been this way a really, really long time and it didn't, it didn't fit.

It didn't meld. And I was most certainly an outsider. Within the, within the projects. And so I ended up in three different homeless shelters by the time I was 18. And I, I still to this day believe it was the greatest gift for me. I dropped out of high school, the first semester of the 11th grade. But it made me a voracious reader where I, I took in everything that I could read because I never wanted to be stupid.

Right? And so the kids in high school, the kids in college, they're being forced to read for assignments. For me, I'm just literally going through Encyclopedia Britannica and learning everything I could about every single thing. And I'm, and I'm reading about America's titans and, and how they became the titans of America.

So I'm learning about Rockefeller and Carnegie and Benjamin Franklin and all of these different people, DuPont. 

And so, you know, call, call this the ghetto way of being able to learn how to succeed. But, but it worked.

Eventually, like at 18 years old, you became a publicist.

a PR firm,

when I was 18 and 19 and 20. I started a PR firm and I started on the basis of something that people now know today as product integration, but that wasn't a common thing then. I was interning for the top black PR firm in Los Angeles and the person who owned the PR agency, Pat Tobin, she had two clients who were about to leave because the, it wasn't, they were both artists.

The whole notion of Putting out a press release because they have a new painting or they have a new sculpture or whatever. It just wasn't working. And I said, well, instead of trying to get the press to report on this, which this hasn't worked, how about we put these products where the press will be. So in the green room where there's going to be celebrities, they need a great backdrop anyway.

So why don't we create the backdrop? Why don't we bring these things to the spaces where the press and the celebrities will already be and give them a beautiful backdrop. That's now called product placement. But 29 years ago, it really, it really wasn't a thing.

And so those clients. Because I was the person who executed it within this PR firm and they were already on their way out, they said, listen, if you decide to start your own PR firm, we'll come with you. Well, I'm 18 years old now have two clients paying me 5, 000 a month. I think I'm absolutely rich, right?


You are, you

What's the first thing I do as the big boss CEO as I start hiring people? And, and so I, I understood the, the how to tell a story, how to bring the press in in such a way where the story that I wanted to tell was interesting to not just the press person, but also who were their listeners or their viewers or their readers.

I understood how to do that very early on, but I did not know how to manage. business. And before I even got out of my teen, so I come through homelessness. I started a business. Everything was great. But then all the walls were caving in. And I simply did not have the mental capacity to see beyond the worry of that moment.

And I tried to commit suicide twice.

oh my god.

After the second try, I'm laying in a hospital bed. I've got a tube down my nose. They're pumping, I don't know what they do now, but at that time they would pump charcoal down your nose in order to absorb whatever it is that you had taken. And I, I took so many, I took basically the entire medicine cabinet.

And it's, it's a reminder to me every time I take a leave because a leave wasn't out at that time, or at least it wasn't in the medicine cabinet. So it's actually the only painkiller I can take now that my body registers.


Oh my

But laying there, it became clear to me that if I couldn't take me out. That there was a purpose in this life that I need to get to the business of understanding and I needed to just keep moving forward. But it also between the projects and at such a young age and the homeless shelters and trying to commit suicide and dropping out of high school.

For me, it also said, if I can't take me out, you can't take me out. So it allowed me to move forward with a belief that nobody can take me out. Nobody. I have an appointed time and I'm not gonna die until I get to that appointment. So there's no need for me to have a concern about when my time is up. I'm just gonna go full throttle until whatever that appointed time is.

So when you left that hospital, what was the first thing you did?

when I left the hospital to go to another hospital to make sure because it w They had to make sure tha put me in a, I don't, I d I only remember that it w from the ocean Noya becau I went, the

hungry. Yeah.

I did was go across the street to the doctor, but I remember being in this place where the halls are filled with people that are yelling and screaming and everybody's taking pills and I would put them under my tongue and spit them out.

So I don't even know what the medication was because I never took it. But it was my eldest sister who's 11 years older than me. I, I, I called her and I was like, you got to get me out of this place. These people are crazy. I mean, I tried to commit suicide, but I'm actually not nuts. And so, and so she came in and she came and she got me in and I began to build my life again from that point living in her guest house and, and building my life again from there.

And then what was it that, I'm looking at the timeline where did you go after that? What was your kind of career? By the way, was your career always your number one, even when you were 15? Like, has that always been your top

no, I always thought that I was going to be a stay at home mom and wife. And I did. I really did. I thought that because I was always so nurturing when I was young, you, I literally always had a kid with me. I tried to adopt a kid when I was 11 years old and was really pissed at my parents for not cosigning for it.

And they're like, that's not how this works and said. But I'm a better mother than his mother was. I'm the one taking care of him. I'm the one changing the diapers. I'm the, but as an 11 year old, I'm not thinking about the fact that I'm not paying for any of this, right? It is, the kid is staying at the house and I'm, and I'm taking care of them, but also it's summertime.

But from a, from a very early age, I was always enormously nurturing of, of children. And so I, I always thought that that was my path. And ironically, it's how I met my husband is his mother chose me because she was watching me at the time. I was a I still had my company.

I was also in an investor and one of the top restaurants and and L. A. And I became an investor solely off the sweat equity and I put together the raise. I put together the business plan. I put together the marketing plan. I sure as hell put together the P. R. And it worked brilliantly. And so I became a shareholder based on, on sweat equity.

Cause I didn't have money to put in myself, but that when I would go into her salon, she owned a pretty large hair salon. I was always doing business and it's because I don't know if you've ever been into a black hair salon, but people are there for hours and it's a lot of celebrity gossip. It's a lot of judgment.

It's a lot of what happened at church. I'm not into any of that, so I would always bring work with me, and I'd be sitting there calling in payroll, doing whatever I could do to make it clear I'm not going to be a part of these conversations.

And my husband's mother on, on, on one day, and at that point I was 26, and she, she says to me, she said, you know, it's, it's, I'm so impressed that you're this young.

And you're this at this level of business and and you're so smart and yada, yada, yada, yada. And I just can't imagine what you're going to be like when you're in your 40s as a businesswoman. And I said, really, this is just pastime for me. I do this because I'm good at it, but I really just want to be a mom and a wife.

And she's like, you have to meet my son.

I love

Oh my god,

that she introduced you guys. So at the time though, you were, you had your company, you mean you were still a publicist, but then you were also then investing, right? So that's, that was where you're

still had my PR and special events firm. It's how I met who became what is now known in the celebrity chef world as G Garvin at the, at that time. He was just a really talented executive chef named Gary Garvin. And the, I took an interest in him because he came to me about a restaurant that a local celebrity football player was opening in Beverly Hills.

He was the executive chef. And he came to my firm. He was referred to my firm in order to do the special event for the opening. Well, no one at that time knew that I really didn't have, I was at capacity. I didn't have enough people working for me. I didn't have enough money coming in. So I was, I had just enough to do what I was already doing.

I couldn't take on a massive special event of that nature. But what I did tell him is I said, listen, this is what I would do. So find the person who would do this. And after the restaurant opened, I began taking clients there on a very regular basis. And he watched the way that I moved, the type of clients that I had, the people that I brought in there.

And he came to me one day and said, listen, I don't want to work for another restaurant owner. I want to be the restaurant owner, but I don't know the business side. Well, that's something I knew really well. And so I offered to put together the business plan. I Put together a structure that allowed for what he already had, which was a celebrity following to begin booking him for TV, their TV shows and doing the catering on the TV shows and doing like building this catering business and this clientele.

While we put together the framework for the restaurant itself, and once he had built this clientele, then that's in the business plan, and I was able to then pitch that to people who I knew really well, and they invested in the restaurant. And so that so I, I did not not have my business, but it most certainly shifted to that becoming my, my top client, because I had the most in that.

Gotcha. And so going back to your husband, your now husband,

My, my husband of 20 years as this year.

Congratulations. Wow. So you're now mother in law introduced you guys and what was that very first date like for you?

Well, first of all, it took her so much work to get me to give her my telephone number every single time I went to the salon, because this is pre people that now the telephone numbers. You call the cell phone or they have a system or whatever. But going back that far, you had a receptionist who would book the, who would book everything.

And so you didn't necessarily have to give a telephone number if you were referred by someone. So I went in there and every week, she'd asked me that this is a black thing to go in every week. I don't know how often y'all go in, it's a black. And so I'd go in every week and she'd do my hair and she'd say, don't leave without leaving me my telephone number.

Well, in a typical black salon, you got one person in the bowl, you're washing their hair. One person who's sitting under the dryer who's waiting one person who's sitting in the chair, waiting to be blow dried and pressed out. And so there were so many people there. I'd go, okay, okay. And I would leave,


but she was relentless.

And I realized, okay, I have to either find a new hairdresser or

Yeah, give her the number.

and every black woman will tell you when you have found a good hairdresser, you are

yeah. You're

trying to find another, and so I gave her my telephone number, but her son is her only child, so the last thing he wanted was to be set up by his mother, so he then refused to call me

no. Oh,

every time he would go to her house, she'd have like little pieces that he still has these and it's so cute.

She'd have these little pieces of paper just kind of dropped in different places with a happy face on the front of it and it'd say Keith. And then on the inside it'd say, have you called that girl named Fawn? My telephone number. So for the longest time, my name that within, you know, his household with his mom and his dad was that girl named Fawn.

It wasn't that girl named Fawn,


but it took him a while. But from the very moment we had our 1st conversation, neither he nor I like to sit on a phone and that call was probably 3 hours. And every call after that was probably 3 hours and. And we, I mean, it was just, it was immediate. We, we talked for the first time, April 27, we met for dinner, May 9th.

He proposed September 6th. We were married December 27th, all the same year. So his mother was spot on. And when we moved to.

That's crazy.

As soon as I started working on this project of, of Nearest Green and, and cementing his legacy and, and Uncle Nearest, even before Uncle Nearest came out and existed and all the rest of that stuff, she sold her house in LA, sight unseen, bought a house here, because she said she looked in my eyes and knew I wasn't coming back to LA, and she was going to go wherever her grandbabies might come from.

Oh, that's so sweet. but I'm mostly concerned. Is she still doing your hair?

No, no, so she retired, she's old, she's older now, and so she retired. And, but she is the, the most amazing mom in love I could have ever asked for. And, and so we've had a great relationship.

like she really knows you, you know, like she knows your soul. She knows what's good for you.

Yeah. And she, and she knew what was good for her son and she knew I, I, my, the best thing I can do for my son is to find someone who is going to be an equal partner.

And she'll tell you this because her, her, my husband's father was a, a dad. What is it? Papa? Papa? What is the Rolling Stone? Papa was a Rolling Stone.

Oh, yeah.

Wherever he laid his hat was his home. That was, that was her, her first husband and that was my husband's father. And so he was just out there sowing his royal oats everywhere.

And so she concluded early in life that her son was going to need someone who was a true partner who kept it interesting. That, that's the way that she described it. And she said, but I never realized how interesting you'd

Yeah. How busy and interesting. He's not going anywhere. He doesn't have time.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no, he's he is a, he is my absolute favorite person in the world. He's an amazing, amazing human being.

Yeah. You have you, I've heard interviews from you where you talk about relationships and love and you have a very positive outlook on it actually. You wrote a book and did like a huge case study where you were interviewing thousands and thousands of people who are actually in good relationships,

Yeah, happily married 25 years or more

25 years or more. And so what, what did you what was, what was the book called?

happy wives club.

Happy Wives Club,

And I, I traveled to six continents and 12 countries. And I interviewed couples, not just the women I interviewed couples that were happily married 25 years or more. And it wasn't a. One of those things where someone could write in and say, we're happily married each each one that I interviewed, they were referred to me by either their own Children,


which I think is really

very telling. Yeah,

up in the house.

Right? So the kids who grew up in these relationships and said, I want to have the relationship of my parents. I was interviewing them. I was interviewing people where it within the community that they were in. They were the couples that people wanted to emulate that they and so I'm interviewing people from every single background, trying to figure out what is the common denominator of a long term, happy marriage.

And I was just looking for one. It ended up, once I went back and transcribed all of the recordings, there ended up being 12. That every single one of these couples, different backgrounds, different races, different religions, every single one of these couples did. And so that, I've, my husband and I have literally lived by that book from that time forward.

And it's been

helped 20 years. There you go.

it's been brilliant.

Can you give us top five?

Absolutely, the number one is mutual respect. There's been a notion for a long time that women want love and men want respect, and that's absolutely not true. Women and men both want love and respect. And so that mutual respect was number one. Every single woman, and I didn't expect this, every single woman that I interviewed was incredibly strong and strong willed.

Every single one, but what was interesting was their ability to go from being a powerhouse judge or the top plastic surgeon in South America or like all these different powerful women. But when I interviewed them, the moment their husbands walked through the door, they became doting girls. And their husbands were doting as well.

Now this is, this is actually during a time prior to having a gay marriage. It did not exist at that time. And so when I did the book, it's all husbands and wives, but it's because that's the only term marriage was being used for at that time. And, and so if I did the book again, it would be, it would be quite different, but I believe the principles would still be identical.

Give us a one more mutual respect.

I will tell you my favorite one, and it became something that my husband and I have done all these years now, is having a every day, a daily ritual. It blew my mind because it was, you know, an, an older Jewish couple in Agoura Hills is what, what kicked it off. Is every night before dinner, they would have sort of a prelude, which, and they had pork every night.

They would talk about their day, what happened, the kids, but the kids were not invited to this hour before dinner. And this was their daily ritual. And I was like, that's really cool. And then in South Africa and Cape Town, the couple was like every, every morning their daily ritual was the wife would get up and open up all of the windows in the bedroom because they had these windows that over overlooked the water and the husband would go downstairs and make the coffee, come back up, they'd sit in the bed and they called it their board meeting.


they'd have a board meeting. It was their touch base, but literally every single couple, whether it was in the morning or at night, they all had a daily ritual. And so built into my calendar from that moment forward has been a daily ritual with Keith.

What is it?

it is the idea that I interviewed all these couples and if they were married for 25 years or more, they all had a daily ritual just blew my mind.

Absolutely blew my

I was just talking to this couple and I, they were telling me about this ritual that they do and they have two kids. And so they said that every morning at four 30 in the morning, they go to another room, they sit down, hold each other's hands and they just basically meditate together.


I would be divorced in two seconds. That's not happening. That's

The daily ritual, though, is different. I mean, for some, it was drinking alcohol together every night. For

I would like that one. Yes.

before bed, right? For some, it was meditating together. For some, it was coffee in the morning. The thing, the only thing that was consistent about the daily rituals is it was unique to what was important to that couple.

That's the only similarity. And the fact that you did it religiously, like my husband and I, we observe the Sabbath every week together that 24 hours, we shut it down. We're not, it's not a Sabbath, like a religious, like, it has to be Saturday or Sunday, depending on the week, our assistants work together to figure out, is it going to be Saturday, Sunday or Monday?

And they do it every single week to make sure that we have the same 24 hours off together. That for us is a, is a weekly ritual and we will fight you on that up. So it's very different for everyone, but that was a really key. thing that that I wasn't doing. And I remember by the time I figured it out, I was in Australia.

I remember very clearly I was on a boat and I was traveling to the Australian zoo and I called my husband and I said, babe, we need a daily ritual.

Yeah. I would think every, every month you were probably calling him with one, these 12 that you have. Babe. All right, here we go.

Well, it started off as being our daily ritual, was getting up together at 5 a. m. and taking a spinning and yoga class at 5. 30 a. m. That lasted for about a year and we were like, we want a different day.


That's a long time for that to last. If he woke me up at five in the morning for a ritual, I'd be like, look, we're just going to have to see other people and other rituals. Like it's the year is a good, it's a good run.

I love that. All right. So how then, let's, let's hear about Uncle Nearest. How did that all form? Because that's also a great story that you were just reading an article in the New York Times, I believe. And that's what sparked this entire kind of empire. So talk to us a little bit about that.

And Keith and I were in Singapore, and it was on the cover of the New York Times. It was the, the International Edition here in the States. It was the cover of the food section, but internationally it was the cover of the New York Times International Edition. And you had Jack Daniel. I didn't drink Jack Daniel, but I knew what he looked like.

I think all of us know what he looked like. They've, they've done a great job with making his face ubiquitous around the world. And I saw a this photo and it's Jack and he's surrounded by his leadership team that is all white. But the interesting thing about the photo itself is that he seated the center position to a black man, and we now have that that photo dated to 1904.

But we didn't know when it was dated, but we knew it was either very early 20th century or late 19th century, just based on the photo itself. And the fact that this white man, the most famous whiskey maker of all time, then and now, the fact that he had ceded the center position of that photo to a black man, to me, said he is making sure this person, whoever this person is, is never erased.

That was what

So the, the art, the article was about Jack Daniels, right?

article was actually about correcting the, the history, which up until that point this was in 2016. Up until the point, the person who had been credited with teaching Jack Daniel how to make whiskey Tennessee whiskey was a white preacher and distiller what this article was saying. Is that the company that now owns Jack Daniels that has owned them since the late fifties that they were actually now saying that it was unlikely it was this white man, but his slave now, I've now done enough research.

And at this point, it's brought in over 30 historians, archivists, archaeologists, genealogists, all the, all of us. And, and, and brought them all in because of a book, the book is going to be released next year that just details. And it was so important to me that if we were going to tell this story, it had to be, it had to be in such a way that no one could question the legitimacy of it.

So I brought in so many. Researchers to just to pull every document that there is. And we pulled over 10, 000 documents from six or seven different states and brought it all together. But at the time, they were just saying he was Jack's teacher. And that in itself was was big news because a white man had previously been given credit. My researchers and I then discovered is that it wasn't just that he was his teacher, but that he was his first master distiller and he wasn't just the master distiller of any distillery. He was the master distiller of distillery number 7 and distillery number 7 was the original Jack Daniel distillery that is on a 313 acre property in the hills above.

Lynchburg, Tennessee. Well, on the first day that we arrived in Lynchburg, I wanted to do research and see if the story in the New York Times, it was very light on facts. It was heavier on oral history, but nothing within it could, was proven. And so I wanted to see, could this be proven? Could it for a book and for a movie?

Because that photo very clearly was saying to me that Jack Daniel wanted to make sure whoever this black man was, was not only acknowledged, but could not be erased because he, he only took one photo his entire career with his team. It was that one. So he made sure the only photo he had ever taken with his, his team.

He seated the center position to the black man.

And that's what you pulled out from it, isn't it? I mean, that's amazing in terms of like, you dissected that photo probably inside and out. And so you're, you're in Singapore. You read this article front page and of the international section. And so what, what from there, like, what was it like, did you look over to Keith, your husband and say this, this is what, like, hallelujah.

Oh my God. Like I

Yeah. Well, it was a, you know, at that, at that point I was about to turn 40 and in my lifetime up until that point, there was not an American ubiquitous brand that anyone could attribute to a black person. being at the beginning of it and could prove it. So there's a lot of things. There are different brands out there.

Like for instance, I think it's Pillsbury, their instant biscuit where there's a restaurant in Lucille named Lucille's in Houston. And the story behind Lucille's is, is their, her, her descendants believe that she is the person who created that biscuit recipe and they stole it. Well, they can't prove it.

And so it's something that just kind of remains at that restaurant in Houston. And so the idea that there could be an American brand, we knew that our ancestors were not allowed to trademark. They were not allowed to patent. They were not considered human beings. So the likelihood that there are a lot of companies that were birthed in the 19th century that remain popular American companies, that black people were a part of it from the very beginning, it's a very high likelihood.

But up until that point, we've never been able to prove one. So what was interesting to me was the thought that we could possibly prove at least one. And if we could prove one, then could that become the blueprint for how we prove others? And how could we do it in such a way where it doesn't take The company, whatever that company is, but we're allowed to, to actually celebrate our excellence and being there at the beginning, celebrate who we have been from the moments we hit these shores, we couldn't read or write because hell English, wasn't our native language.

And so the ability to be able to reclaim this one story, but to do it in such a way that would not kill the company by which the story was within.

That was really important to me because if in reclaiming the story of near screen as Jack Daniels first master distiller and the teacher of Jack Daniel, the mentor of Jack Daniel, if in the process I killed Jack Daniel, the brand, then nobody else would be willing to go into their record books. They would be they whatever information they knew about the enslaved people that worked at the beginning of their company's origin.

They would figure out how to get rid of it and we would probably never know who any of these people were because they just watched me take down Jack Daniels.


But I'm curious because I thought that I mean, with the original article that you read back in Singapore and everything, it's not like Jack Daniels was denying that Nearest Green was his mentor. You know, they kind of, they didn't, they they owned the idea No. Or the

They, they, they owned it. They're the ones who actually pitch the story to the New York. What they, what they underestimated, and they didn't understand because the person at the time, the president of Jack Daniels was from Australia, and he had lived in America a long time, but he really did not understand the, did not understand slavery in, in the matter, in the length of time that we were enslaved.

Right? That's, that's, that's. If every generation is 20 years, I think is what they've, they've now said, right? So you're looking at 20 generations


enslaved people. You can't undo that in this short period of time. You can't undo in five generations or six generations, what it took 20 generations to do.

And so he didn't understand that he didn't get that. So he thought it was this great story. Well, the headline. Was Jack Daniels embraces a secret ingredient helped from a slave. Well, twitter decided not to read the actual article.

as usual . Yeah.

They literally took the headline and the picture and created their own story.

And that storyline was Jack Daniel stole a recipe, hid the slave and tried to cover it up. And that story crazy enough persists to this day. I correct people all the time. 

And it is the case, one of the, the good stories of the white person actually being an ally of an enslaved person and, and them having a similar difficulty in upbringing and being raised and, and all of the rest of that stuff. This is, this is a story to celebrate and to find more stories like this, but it's, it's a lot easier for people to just want stories to, to harden their hearts.

Versus to open their hearts because the idea of opening a heart means it can be wounded. And so there's this constant barrage of people trying to, to put on things that continue to harden their heart, that continue to shield their heart. And so this story became something that people wanted to be a story to harden the heart.

And here I come out here going, no, this is, this is the opposite. And so you, you have a lot of people that were not happy. With the true story of of Jack Daniel near screen because they had determined it to be negative. And when I came out and said, no, no, this is a story of love, honor and respect. And I'm not going to adjust this story to sensationalize it for sales.

 just in a nutshell what is the overarching story of Jack Daniel and Uncle Nearest?

the overarching story is, is, is Jack was a young boy. He was four months old when his mother passed away. He's the 10th child, and he never grew to be more than 5'2 even as a full adult. So imagine

Taller than me, so. Yeah,

a kid, right? And in in those days, I mean, the moment you could work on the farm, you were working on the farm.

You had slave hands, but the kids were the white kids were also working and everybody was working and trying to cover to cover the fields. Obviously, the family members had very different conditions, but they were all out there working. So from a very young age, she's this tiny little boy. And so he's not really able to hold his weight.

And when his mother passed away, his father now all of a sudden has 10 kids. And it's not like his mother had this long bout with illness. She literally contracted typhus fever and seven days later she's dead. And he's now a widow with 10 kids. One of which is four months old. So the first thing he had to do is, is, is, is find someone else who had recently had a child in order to have Jack wet nursed, right?

So that he could actually get, so the next door neighbor Mrs. Wagner actually wet nurse Jack so he could get nourishment. So this is the kid and his father married another woman when he was around one years old. So you have this woman who comes in, she now, she really just wants the man, but she's got 10 kids.

That came with the man and isn't interested in any of them, especially the little runt. Right. And so at a young age, Jack moves in as a chore boy to a farm up the road. And I don't know if I mentioned this, but I own that farm. Now, we're all the original distilling 7,

We want to get into that

up all the rest of his life.

But he goes up the hill and he begins to work as a chore board. Chore board basically meant that he would go out and milk the cows, feed the pigs, get, you know, get slop for the hogs and, and go out to the water. Because I, because I own it, I know exactly what he had to go through to go get water from the spring box.

Bring it back from the wells, bring it back to the house. And so this was not easy work. And on the same property, you have nearest green, who is the master distiller and of, of the distillery jet nearest. Would have been treated with a higher level of respect than Jack because one, Jack was young. He's a little run, but also because nears green by all accounts, the preacher and distiller never owned any slaves, which means that nearest green was on that property because he was being rented.

And in most instances. The reason why you would rent an enslaved person is because they'd be too expensive without renting them because of their skill set.

Wait, I'm so sorry. So then, then who owned him?

We don't know.

oh, we don't know. Okay. I see.

No clue. No clue. And we

So the priest was, the preacher was renting uncles from somebody and who, how was uncle nearest around this time? Like what was the age difference with Jack Daniels?

The part that's hard to know is, is no black person knew their age. Because you're coming over, you don't have a, you don't have a birth date in English. You're not going off of our calendar years. And you don't, especially if you were born, Neers would have been born into slavery. And so the, and he didn't read or write, and we know by records that his mother and father didn't read or write.

And so we have no idea when he was born. Well, if you look at me, if someone, if a census taker comes to my door, that's a white census taker. Black people have never been included in history as humans. They've just been on slave rolls as numbers, right? You and, and saying if they're male or female, now you have white census takers in 1870 for the very first time showing up at doors and asking for the actual name of a black person and their age. Black don't crack.


Like, if somebody showed up at my door and I don't have on, even with makeup on, but I don't have on makeup, they're going to put me in my 20s. I'm 47. You have an 1870 census that says he's one age. You have an 1880 census that says he's a completely different age, like not even within the same



And, and so we have no idea. How old he was, what the age difference was. No clue. We, we, we think we know, but thinking, you know, and knowing


when you don't actually have the records to support it are two very different things.

But we know that Jack Daniels was a kid when he came there and he and Uncle Neus was already a master distiller at that point.

and by calling him uncle already gave him age.

Oh, I see.

Because the in in the city in the town of Lynchburg, the three most respected men as they got older were Uncle Nearest Uncle Jack. To this day, that's what people call him in Lynchburg was Uncle Jack, not Jack Jack Daniel. It's

Oh, wow.

So Uncle Nearest Uncle Jack and Uncle Felix and Uncle Felix's wife is who wet nurse Jack.

So it is those were like the three men with who were most respected and who were referred to as uncle. And so we know he had enough age. That he was introduced to Jack as uncle nearest that part we know,


but the rest of it, we don't, we don't know how close they were, how close they were at age. And because the preacher and distiller was so young, when he came onto that property, he got married, started having a, he ended up with 13 kids.

Oh my gosh.

He and his wife were only 18 years old when that, when he inherited the property, began their own life. So him referring to someone as uncle, it didn't mean that nearest was up there in age.

Right. Right. Got it. It was irrelevant.

it's all relative, exactly,

relative. Yeah. So you have this young kid going and, and being very rambunctious, but also really wanting to know what's happening in that distillery.

Like what's, what's going on over there because no one would talk about it. He married the preacher's name is Dan Kahl. He married a teetotaler. And he was, he was amid his, his church was literally on the edge of his property. And so he wasn't supposed to be distilling. So nobody was talking about that.

They're just like pretending that distillery didn't exist.


And nearest green was that master distiller there. But Jack was was incredibly curious. So long story short, Jack becomes a salesperson of this whiskey, and he began selling it to the soldiers. And in that area, it was mostly Confederate soldiers.

So he's literally going out and selling whiskey to the Confederate soldiers. Well, because he's so young and he was able to kind of put it under meat, hide it under meat and all the rest of that stuff, he was able to get in without there like being any pushback. And so he, he was able to corner the market.

He, he was a brilliant salesperson. And so he continued doing the sales his entire life. From the time he was a young boy, his father deserted the army and, but was eventually killed during the civil war when, when Jack was 15. And so you, you, it's, it's an interesting, it's an interesting story, but his, his upbringing wasn't one of ease to say the least.

And he found mentorship and a man by the name of of nearest green, who became his teacher. So, so that's the story now, the entire time that Jack owned Jack Daniels distillery, his descendants then came after him, his nephews, and then his great nephews. They ran it the entire time near screen and his boys, George green, Eli green, his grandsons They were always a part of the official Jack Daniels story.

It wasn't until the last of Jack's descendants to die in 78, Gregor Motlow, that the story disappeared in 79, before 79.

Is it because of the different owners or

The owners had owned it since 56,

Oh, I see.

but Jack's descendants continued to run it.

I see. Okay.

when they turned the distillery over, they continued to be the head of the board. And so it wasn't until the very last one who sat on the board that he died, that within a year, the story, the story changed from it being near screen and his boys.

To the white preacher and the distiller, the irony, the irony is, is that it was that picture that brought it all back,


allowing for the story to be denied because quite honestly, and truly. If, if Jack had not taken that picture and seated the center position to the black man,


we wouldn't be talking about near


else would you have known? So yeah.

that picture, and just from the placement, and it's

Yeah. Disclose so much.

and it's not nearest who's in the photo. It's his son, George. So you're talking about 2 generations. that were working and in the photo is also Jack's nephew who he turned the distillery over to in 1904. So that's who is you have Jack here. He cedes the center position to George who is sitting to his right and then his nephew is up front to the right a little bit.

That's who is the, that is who is in this, this photo. So you literally have The generation who founded and the generation who is now taking over and he put near screen sun front and center

So you also said that their families are still close.

always have been.

That's so sweet. So like, so I'm curious, why didn't they I mean, I know now you, you've built a legacy for Uncle Nearest and everything, but it was, were they trying to do that before? Did they ever get together and say like, Oh, people don't know about this?

no, it's a little bit like if you grow up in Orlando, Disney world's not a big deal to you.


They grew up with it. So it wasn't in this little town called Lynchburg, right? And so it just wasn't top of mind to anyone. I, I don't even think that they thought the story was that interesting.

It's, it's,

I just thought it was like a fact of life. Yeah.

it just was there was there wasn't debate even after the story came out. The town of Lynchburg is who helped me to put the story together. It wasn't the town of Lynchburg who had issues. It was the people outside of Lynchburg who had issues and the two major, the two major sides.

That, that I got the most heat from was Black Twitter, that whole, you know, group that, that had already determined what the story was for a full year before I came out with the actual story. So that story had been used as ammunition for a full year. They weren't willing to give up that ammo. Because again, it's the first time that a black person could be proven to be at the beginning of a ubiquitous American brand.

So they weren't willing to give up that ammo. That story, it was very important that that be the first story that they could actually prove that something was stolen. So you have that side. Then on the other side, you have Jack Daniel collectors. Who are just rabid fans and have been collecting these bottles forever.

And I was now jacking up their master distiller numbers.



was, it was creating a loss of value

yeah. Yeah.

if Jack Daniel was no longer master distiller, number one, and it was nearest green, which is the case, then everybody's numbers are off.


So they were pissed. I mean the number of forums out there where they were venting is Crazy.

Would you read it for fun sometimes? I don't

No, no, I don't read any of that kind of nonsense, but, but I know a lot of it was pulled up for, for my book because the researchers pulled it up. And I was like, wow, that was quite the conversation they were having over there on, on Facebook. 

So for your, so for your branding and for your, your labels and for your marketing for Uncle Nearest Whiskey, you do not mention Jack Daniel at all, is that right? Never, never have. And is it because, and so is it illegal? I mean,

No, it's fair use. I can. I mean, they ran a billboard campaign in London. That was all with that photo. That was all about nearest green. And, and, and they took it down because they found that it sold more uncle near it.

was gonna say, I'm like, maybe.


They didn't they didn't calculate that completely, but or at least the marketing people, then they're not there anymore, but, but there is. I wanted to make it clear that nearest greens legacy stood on its own.

On its own. Exactly. Yeah. Okay.

We would do it while honoring jack and making sure that under no circumstance. Did we ever harm the legacy of Jack Daniel to the contrary?

We want it to elevate it. Because he was, by all accounts, our first ally that we know of, of a, of a, of a corporate America, of a company that still exists right to this day. So that was really important to me, that story of, of showing us how to do that now. We're still talking about allyship now and the necessity of it now.

And they mastered it in the 20th century in the 19th century. And so being able to share that story and bring it forward, but it was also really important that I created clear boundaries with the owners of Jack Daniels, that they were not touching my trademarks. So if I was going to insist, they not touch my trademarks, I needed to make sure I didn't touch theirs.


And so could I have used the story of if you go to jackdaniels. com, if you go to their website, very first page, you're going to pull up the story of near screen as their first master to stellar. The reason why you don't have that on uncle nearest and is because there's no benefit to uncle nearest his legacy.

Of that story being there. What's a benefit to Uncle Nearest's legacy is he was the first known African American master distiller and what his descendants did and what his and the fact that his descendants are still making history in the whiskey business to this day. That's the story that I knew I could build this brand on.

And it was important to me that that I build a brand in such a way that it stood on its own.

When you read that article, was your entry point of unraveling a story or was it to actually build a whiskey brand?

It was to unravel the story. The whiskey brand doesn't exist. If the story is not something that is one of power, one of purpose, one of interest to me, but I'm also the book that we're talking about Happy Wives Club, it's New York Times bestseller, USA Today bestseller whoever else bestseller, and at the time, my husband literally just retired after 21 years at Sony Pictures, but he's an executive vice president at Sony Pictures, and so I looked at it as, This is a book.

This is a movie. We're doing the research, but on day one, we, we literally go to the farm that happened to have been up for sale for 18 months. That's a whole other episode, but it just happened to be for sale for 18

real quick. Was your husband like, what are you thinking? We're going to Lynchburg? What?

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No black

it's called Lynchburg. Yeah.

that's that, that, and

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

fair. It's a fair. And so but Lynchburg, Tennessee wasn't for lynchings. So that was, you know, that that's not where the name came from. But it doesn't matter. You know, black man wants to go to a town called Lynchburg.

So he wasn't excited at all. But it was my 40th birthday. And that's where I wanted to go. So it wasn't optional. Like

Yeah. Yeah.

That's where we're going. Yeah.

Can't tell your wife, she can't go where she wants to go for her 40th

Yeah. Yeah.

but the intention was to get in four days, get whatever research I could, interview the one descendant that was in that New York Times article nearest green descendant, and then go home.

But as soon as I got to Lynchburg, everything began to just, the doors began to open up and it's like the yellow brick road. That was leading to what is now Uncle Nearest and, but in the beginning, that's, that's not, that's not what it was.

 I read that your when you were kind of, Revving up your whiskey company, you had some doors close on you and you actually had your husband at some point reach out kind of on as a man because you thought maybe that was the reason that these doors will being you know, slammed in your face.

So talk a little bit about that.

Yeah. So, so my, my entire leadership team then and now are all women and the, we, at the time, my head of sales and marketing and my head of whiskey operations, which was which is a descendant of Jack. So you had, and then you had our master blender, but at this preceded nearest his descendant coming into the company.

And so it was just myself. Hey, and Sherry and we're having a conversation one day, and I'm learning from both of them separately that they had all of these, these folks within the industry that weren't returning their calls. But in order to actually launch this brand, we needed these calls return. You're talking about things like.

You know, bottles and at the in the beginning, we sourced our whiskey. So sourced whiskeys. And you're looking at meeting distributors and all these different elements that we literally could not bring it to market without these these people and none of us were getting our calls returned. And so it dawned on me that our industry had never had women at the top ever up until that point.

Never. And so the, the men in this industry would not have been used to hearing a woman on the other side of the line. And so I asked for sharing Kate. I said, send me a synopsis of everything that you've been reaching into people for, give me the name, the contact information, and the synopsis of what you need from that person.

And then I compiled their two lists with my own list, forward it to my husband and said, can you make all these phone calls and people that we had been trying to get in touch with for weeks? If not month. He got through immediately when calling or they call him back by the end of the day. And at some point in that conversation, it would be, Hey, do you, do you golf?

Or do you, do you drink beer? Let's get together at this pub or that pub or whatever. And and it was just it was a bros club. The the whiskey industry, the bourbon industry has always been a white male bros club. It just always had. And so what I realized in doing that is having him make the phone calls.

Is that if he's taking the time to build these relationships with these people, I didn't have to,

Right. Oh,

of my time on the marketing on the PR on laying the groundwork so that when this product came out into the marketplace, everybody would hear it come. And so that became my complete attention because he was dealing with the production side.

Well, which he still oversees to this day. And now that he's finally retired from Sony, he's actually taking over as CEO. So I will have a man in my, in my ELT,

look at that.

he's taking over a CEO, not of the company, not of Uncle Nearest, but of Nearest Green Distillery. And, and so, but he's essentially been operating in this role from day one on the production side, because everybody was used to speaking to, to men.

And so I said, listen, if y'all will let me build this. Flying under the radar. Well, hell, I'm going to do it. So if you look at any of the interviews that I gave, and I gave hundreds in those first couple of years of this business, you will never see me mentioned as CEO or founder. You will see me mentioned as chief historian.

That was the title I adopted because that was the title that this, that men in this industry could

comfortable with, yeah.

And at the time that we came out, the vast majority of bourbon consumers were, in fact, white men, and by vast, I mean, well over 70%. And so the chief historian was a title that they could comprehend.


Being the founder and CEO of a bourbon company at that time is Tennessee Whiskey. It had never happened before. And so I wasn't interested in being the first coming out the gate. I wanted it to be successful before people found out I was the first.

But are you in it now? Are you in the bros club? Are you in the


white whiskey bros club?

you know, I brought in so many women and people of color that there's no longer a bros club

That's it. Okay.

the industry

that's in 10 years. In 10 years, in less than 10 years.


The industry does not when we, when I came in the leader of every spirit conglomerate was a white male. Now, 3 of the 6 are women.

Wow. Nice.

that's, how does that feel for you?

Oh, it's fantastic because for us, our whole thing coming into this was we're going to pull as we climb. There is a reason that there has never been a successful spirit company owned by a a, a black person. There is a reason that there's actually never been a successful spirit company owned by a non white, period.

And the only other successful spirit company that was owned by a non white male is the woman who owns Buzzball. Outside of that, there's never been a successful spirit company owner that wasn't a white male. White males are 30 percent of the country and yet they owned every aspect of this industry. And so coming into it, it was like, all right, we didn't know that coming in, but now that we know it, what do we do about it?

And so we, we have had a pull as you climb, pull as we climb ethos from day one. We're not just going to succeed by ourself. We're going to bring every woman and every person of color who wants to be in this industry, who wants to do it with excellence, who wants to succeed. We're going to bring us, we're going to bring them with us.

And as we learn, we're going to give away that information for free. And we've done that from day one.

And aside from an incredible story, what would you say is what separates you from the rest?

It's the most awarded bourbon of 2019, And now 2023, we're so far ahead, no one can catch up. So being the most awarded bourbon for, you know, four years now going on five years in a row, the, the, it was so important that yes, we knew we had an incredible brand story, but a brand story only causes someone to buy a product once.

We needed them to come back and buy it 10, times and to, to introduce it to friends and to pass it off. That meant that the product itself, the liquid that was in the bottle had to be some of the best on the marketplace, period, hands down. There couldn't be an asterisk next to it that said it was black owned or an asterisk next to it that said it was woman owned.

It, the only asterisk that could be next to it is it's some of the best damn whiskey that's ever been created in America. That's what had to be behind the product itself. And so that has been That has been key, but we built this on how I started my career when I was 18 PR, I, I do interviews every day.

Victoria does interviews every day. This is we're constantly sharing the story of near screen and the brand uncle nearest. Every single day in the press and that goes back to me understanding from a very young age that people want to be a part of the story. They want to have something to root for. They want to have an ability to help someone else succeed.

That's innate to who we are as human beings. When we lean into who we are at our core, we're always connected and we always want to help someone else to be able to succeed.

Yeah. Wow. And, and you have, you're talking about year after year awards. You have close to 900 awards. That's a lot of awards

We just, we,


we just, yesterday morning we, we got back from the, the, the, in China, they do their big wine and spirits thing and, and we won whiskey of the year and that was yesterday and then this morning I have to go back and look. I have another email from the, the, the whiskey masters award and we, we won top whiskey there too.

So it is, it is something, and these are blind taste tests. So it was really important that if, if people in this industry, when we came in, we didn't know whether or not they would accept the story, right? It was important that the whiskey itself caused people to want to buy it, even if they didn't accept the story.

And now the two have come together where people buy it because it's one of the best bourbons that has ever been created. And they, and they have the story as the bonus.


So, and the book coming up, what is that about? Is it about Uncle Nearest?

It is. It's, it's the entire, it's not just about

whole story about how you started and

it's Jack Daniel, Nearest Green, the town of Lynchburg, and the emergence of Uncle Nearest the brand.

I'm excited for that one.

I am too.

So you live in Tennessee now, right?

yeah, I've been here since, like, we came for four days and I essentially never left.

and you never,

It's a frickin 313 acre farm. So.

So are you on the farm now? Did you remodel

No, no.

So it's a farm somewhere else.

completely remodel it. And the story of nearscreen, if you've seen that short film at nearscreen. com, Jeffrey Wright led, it's just, it's phenomenal. That is the property, but the property itself, you really could not update it to be, you know, I couldn't add a large bath and that was the original plan was to add on to it.

But then once we began peeling back the layers of the walls and the floors and saw that everything was still original, there was absolutely. So we restored it back to its original glory and we utilize it as a part of our legacy tours when we bring in press and when we bring in. High profile bartenders and, and distributors, mixologists, that kind of thing.

The tour starts in Lynchburg and it starts at the Dan Paul Farm, and then it comes to, it ends at our distillery in Shelbyville. So where I am, this in Shelbyville, which is, I'm literally, my house sits on the, the main road. If I make a left. I land at Jack Daniel distillery in 15 minutes. If I make a right, I land at Nears Green distillery in 15 minutes.

So I'm smack

you're right in the middle.

in the middle. Oh,

watching everything.

are you ready for some rapid fire questions? Okay, here we go. What canceled show do you wish would make a comeback?

Oh, Queen of the South. Well, I don't know if it was canceled or if they just decided not to do it, but we literally, for, for my birthday, we were at our house in, in Martha's Vineyard and watched the whole thing all over again. I was like, did we just watch this from the beginning again? Queen of the South.

Absolutely. Hands down.

If you had to trade places with a famous musician, who would it be?

Famous musician. I don't want, I don't want that life. No, I tap out on that. it there, it's impossible for these celebrities to live up to the expectations of their fans and be sane. It's, it's impossible. And so you, you have the, like, you're not, you can't just go out and eat and not wanna be bothered. 

what would you say is your number one go to advice in terms of career and reaching your dreams?

Dream bigger, fail harder.

So take, take risks.

It is. It is. If you are afraid to fail, you are never going to succeed at the level that a truly successful person that you admire has succeeded at because that person had to be willing to fail. And if you really understand failure and what it's meant for, then you'll put it in air quotes.

Because if you take from every failure. The lesson that was meant to be learned. You will learn that your whole climb is based on these failures that were meant to happen for you to learn what you needed for you to get the tools that you needed to continue your climb. And so for me, the fail harder is go after something that is so much bigger than you could do on your own.

That the likelihood of failure is greater than the likelihood of success. But if you fail, you take that lesson with you and you do it all over again.


I love that. Who does the dishes? You or Keith?

Both. Right now, like, right now, my housekeeper, Alicia, is doing them. But, and, but we, we both, whoever makes the mess, cleans up the mess.

Alright. Your proudest moment ever?

The day I married Keith Edward Weaver.



Gabriela's melting right now.

it. There's so

can't do that to her, Fawn.

I know, I feel like you could have so many different movies about your life, you know, or you could just go through from the beginning to, you know, like you have, you have a beautiful love story. You have a beautiful, like, I mean, is there a movie?

all the criteria for a great

Oh, the book, the book that comes out next year, Loving Whiskey will undoubtedly have a movie to accompany that. Yeah. We've, we've been holding off on, I've been reached into every top, every top production company, studio director, producers, everybody for years and they, we just wanted to get the book done first and then decide who's the right one to make the movie.

that's smart. I mean, really, you're, you're, you have that long term vision, you know, and and I'm not surprised everybody has reached out to you. So yeah all right. I guess the very last question is, tell us something we don't know.

Okay, here's something you don't know because it's sitting next to me. These are the three books that I've just recently gotten that are on my list to read.


So it's, Cast

of other suns.

The warmth of other sons. So Cass is the movie that Ava Di Verna just directed called Origins, and they gave her, I think, a nine minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, I think is what happened.

So that book was based, or that movie is based on Cass and then Henry Lewis Gates a hundred Amazing facts about the Negro. And then the same author of Cass, Isabelle Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns. So that's something that you don't know about me is those are the three books I'm about to start reading.


Yeah. Well, Fawn, thank you so much. wish you so much even more success and you know, thank

Yeah. We look forward to following you, seeing everything ahead.

Where can people actually find you?

I am at on Instagram at fawn. weaver is where I respond to all the messages. I'm on everything, but the only place I actually pay attention to the messages is my Instagram. So at fawn. weaver.

Got it.

All right. Well, take care and thank you so much

 Thank you so much for listening to tell us something we don't know. You can find us on Instagram at tuswdk or email us at