Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey Review [In Depth]

Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey

Alex author
Founder, writer
Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey header

Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey Details

Distillery: Uncle Nearest

Type & Region: Tennessee Whiskey / Bourbon, USA

Alcohol: 59%

Composition: Unknown

Aged: 5 years

Color: 1.6/2.0 on the color scale (mahogany, henna notes)

Price: $80

From the company website:

This single barrel is different. It has the most distinct flavor profile of any of our whiskeys and was bottled at barrel strength to capture every nuance of this one-of-a-kind spirit. Our distillery’s triple filtration process ensures perfection in every sip. Distilled, aged and bottled in middle Tennessee, home of premier master distiller and teacher, Nearest Green.

The smooth character of our whiskey is what distinguishes it from all others. The legacy of our namesake is what makes it unrivaled.

Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey overview

Uncle Nearest finally did it, they released a 100% homemade single barrel cask strength Tennessee Whiskey / Bourbon. Before you ask if I made a mistake in terminology, I didn’t. The card that was provided when Uncle Nearest sent me this bottle states, “this new label is both premium Straight Bourbon Whiskey and premium Straight Tennessee Whiskey”. This is Tennessee Whiskey AND bourbon. For this and other reasons, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 can also be called bourbon.
Since Uncle Nearest was founded in 2017 and this whiskey (from barrel 008) was released in 2022, that means that this is likely 4-5 years old depending a couple factors. To clarify, Fawn Weaver replied to one of my posts about this and stated that it’s 5 year old bourbon, which is cool information to get straight from the boss. One point for social media.
Regardless of the age, the color is striking. I’m not sure if the photos do it justice, but this is REALLY dark whiskey, some of the darkest I’ve ever seen. On color alone it looks like it’s 15-20 years old, but in reality it’s far from it. That alone makes me think that the oak has had an outsized influence in a relatively short amount of time. I can’t tell if that’s good or bad yet.
To be honest, I have cognitive dissonance about whether Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey is actually distilled and aged by Uncle Nearest because the labeling is confusing. The back label states “Distilled and aged in Tennessee, Bottled by Nearest Green Distillery”, but the card I received says that the whiskey in the bottle was completely distilled and aged by Uncle Nearest.
With a whiskey like this, the back label would usually say “Distilled, aged, and bottled by Nearest Green Distillery”, so the current wording makes it seem like it’s sourced from another distillery in Tennessee. So, I DM’ed Fawn Weaver to get answers, and she confirmed (in writing nonetheless) that this whiskey was distilled and aged by Uncle Nearest. Yeah, Fawn Weaver answered my message, and that’s cool. That solves the confusing label…they should probably fix that. One more point for social media.
As for where to obtain this bottle – for the time being, you can get this at the distillery or ordered online through the Uncle Nearest website (via Reserve Bar), so I don’t think you’ll stumble upon it a store. That may change in time.
The first-ever release single barrel cask strength release of their homemade whiskey (I think) is a big deal, so let’s smell and taste the fruits of their labor in this Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey / Bourbon review. Honestly, even if it isn’t quite their first one, single barrel cask strength bourbon is already a fantastic start.
Thank you to Uncle Nearest for sending this bottle for me to enjoy and review. All opinions, good / bad / amazing / terrible, are still my own.
Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey back
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Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey smell

Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Bourbon starts off dark, roasty, and sweet with roasted caramel, dried cherry, vanilla, dark oak, freshly ground coffee, dark chocolate, dark cinnamon, mocha, candied orange peel, fennel, and pineapple. It’s dark and rich, although there’s not much range, leaning in hard on the dark caramel, cherry, and oak. There’s also a chocolate fudge-like vibe layered in there too, which is great.
The dense caramel and coffee scents remind me of a mix of Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon and Still Austin Cask Strength Bourbon. That’s all fragrant, but as dark and dense as it is, Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey doesn’t have a lot of low-end heaviness. Maybe it’s the 5 years of age or something else. That’s more of a minor nitpick than anything else.
Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey front
After swirling, I smell dark caramel, dried cherry, orange peel, vanilla, roasted oak, cinnamon, licorice, pineapple, toasted grains, red apple peel, dark chocolate, coffee grounds, and a little caraway seed. Personality-wise, this again reminds me of Still Austin Cask Strength (meaning sweet, dark, and mocha-y), but not quite as expressive. I mention the expressiveness because it still feels a little shy since the scents aren’t rushing out of the glass, but I wouldn’t call it closed-off either.
Swirling does open up a bit more range, with a bit of this chocolate covered dried cherry, and every now and then some fresh peach and pineapple coming to the top to brighten and liven up the experience, expanding the range. But just as the color suggests, Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Bourbon is still predominately dark and oaky with some fruity background that overall smells great and remains relatively calm on the alcohol.
Uncle Nearest, do more of this.

Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey taste and aftertaste

My first sip has dense caramel and roasted oak followed by dried cherry, cinnamon, dried oak, toasted biscuit, coffee grounds, mocha, caraway seed, dried red apple peel, and cinnamon. It’s pretty rich and viscous, the opposite of what I expect a 5 year old craft bourbon to be like. It’s also dark and oaky but doesn’t have quite the range or pop that I’d like, although it’s still quite flavorful.
The youth comes out a little with that extra dry oak and cracker, but it’s way better controlled than it is in Uncle Nearest 1856, which is overly dry and crackery-y with way less sweetness. The non chill filtration is also evident with how oily it feels.
After intense “chewing” I get caramel, vanilla, and dried cherry at first with a big surge of roasted oak, cinnamon, and toasted cracker, and then dried red apple peel, licorice, caraway seed, and dutch processed cocoa powder (a little bitter). Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Bourbon becomes more sweet, oaky, spicy, dry, and oily. The extra sweetness is great, but the added oakiness, spiciness, and dryness don’t feel quite right and take me out of the experience.
On the finish, first comes dark caramel, roasted oak, dried cherry and red apple peel, cinnamon, oil, toasted cracker, and coffee grounds with a continued oaky dryness. After “chewing” it leaves roasted caramel, dried and roasted oak, cinnamon, and dried red apple peel. It’s a continuation of the flavors – more oaky, oily, and dry.
Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey wide
Yes it’s flavorful, but the big surge of oak and spice without the “right” amount of added sweetness and fruitiness makes it feel slightly young and unbalanced. This is the only place where the youth rears its head. BUT, and this is a big but, there’s no youthful and funky graininess that I’ve found in some other 4-5 year old bourbons, so it already feels more mature than the age would suggest. In this case, maybe the oak influence in this particular barrel is a bit too pronounced, but that might help explain why the color is so dark.

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Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey Rating

Mid shelf+
Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Bourbon is quite good, but I never quite settle into thinking that it’s amazing, which I know is a vague statement. My main point is that deep down I was hoping that this packed enough goodness to get to “Top Shelf”. It didn’t quite get there, as there are noticeable enough things that hold it back (but not the ABV). At the same time, there are a lot of things that I do like, and show promise for the future.
The scents got me geared up for an amazing experience. While they’re a little shy, there’s still a nice richness and heaviness that I can appreciate, with some budding brightness and range that comes with more time. The flavors unfortunately don’t match the scents, having a bit too much dried oak, dried cracker, and burnt coffee grounds for my liking.
It’s doesn’t necessarily feel young as the viscosity and boldness are there, but there’s a more youthful and rough oakiness that doesn’t feel that mature either, as dark and oaky as it is.
It doesn’t quite all come together into the superb experience that I think it could be, especially when it’s hand selected by Victoria Eady Butler herself. A quick tangent – Uncle Nearest 1856, as much as I wanted to really enjoy it, suffered from a more intense and unbalanced dryness and burnt popcorn, so I wonder if there’s something going on with the aging process that makes some of their whiskeys overly dry and burnt.
If that is the case, they need to get that under control. My assumption is that the 1856 I reviewed is now make mostly / entirely from Uncle Nearest’s own distillate, based on the fact that the front label has a horseshoe, and not the house that it used to have.
Ultimately, your experience will depend on the barrel because each one is going to be different. I just found barrel #8 to not quite hit all the notes that I want for a “Top Shelf” bourbon, although it still hits a lot of good ones. For their first-ever release of homemade cask strength whiskey, this is a great start for Uncle Nearest, but I think that there’s more work to be done to get there, especially getting the oak and dryness under control.
Maybe it’s the 5 year old bourbon comparison, but I hope that Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Whiskey can get to Woodinville Single Barrel Bourbon-level. It’s my mental benchmark for excellent 5-6 year old craft bourbon that hits so many notes across the flavor spectrum. It doesn’t have to be the same, I just want richness and some type balance that feels “right”, but with Uncle Nearest’s own personality.
For the time being, if you like Uncle Nearest, this is their most interesting expression to date and the one I would suggest that you buy. I also hope that barrel you get is better than this one.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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