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The 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards brings to you the best spirits from around the world, each of them a recommendation from your favorite bartender.

Fawn Weaver and her all-female leadership team triumph as their Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey steals the show by earning the top-most score at the 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards. 

Fawn Weaver has been at the helm of the entrepreneurial world for nearly 25 years. As the CEO and founder of Grant Sidney, Inc. (GSI), a privately held investment company, she has been throwing an uber-active hand in investments, serving in leadership capacities behind the scenes. 

Weaver serves as the CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, a company she founded in 2016, which sits under the Grant Sidney umbrella. The birth of the ‘Nearest’ brand comes from Weaver’s way of paying homage to the original distiller and namesake of the brand, Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green.

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is the fastest-growing American whiskey brand in U.S. history and was the most award-winning American whiskey (including bourbon) of 2019 and 2020. The win at the 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards, precisely named ‘Spirit of the Year’,  has added another noteworthy accolade to their mantle.  

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Top 100 On-Premise Spirits website

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Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey Wins The Best Spirits Award at 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards.

Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green is still known as the best whiskey maker the world never knew, and also the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States. The Uncle Nearest brand, wholly owned by Uncle Nearest, Inc., holds a portfolio of three different whiskeys;  a premium aged whiskey, an 11-year-old single barrel product, and a 7-year-old small batch offering, all distilled, aged, bottled, and hand-labeled in Tennessee. The whiskey is currently available in all 50 states and 12 countries, in more than 25,000 stores, bars, and restaurants.

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Victoria Eady Butler, Master Blender for Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey

Victoria Eady Butler might be a relatively new face in the world of spirits, but being the great-great-granddaughter of Nearest Green, we can say that whiskey is in her blood. Brought on by Weaver to keep the Nearest spirit alive, Butler is the Master Blender of the award-winning Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey brand, where she oversees the blending process of its 1884 Small Batch Whiskey and the selection of all 1820 Single Barrels. 

Butler is also one of the members of Uncle Nearest’s executive team and is at the forefront of the Nearest Green Foundation - a 501(s)(3) non-profit organization that provides scholarships to Nearest Green’s descendants that are funded, in part, by the sales of Uncle Nearest Whiskey. She also blended the very first batch of the 1884 Small Batch Whiskey, which launched in July 2019. After the immense success of the first two batches, Butler was appointed as Master Blender in November 2019. 

When Fawn Weaver approached Butler about becoming involved in the Uncle Nearest brand, she had just retired from a more than 30-year tenure as an Analytical Manager with the Regional Organized Crime Information Center in Nashville. Continuing the legacy of her great-great-grandfather was an opportunity that Butler couldn’t pass upon. 

Not only is Butler a star Master Blender, but she is also a mother, grandmother, and a Tennessee native, currently residing in Murfreesboro, TN located just 20 miles up the road from the current Nearest Green Distillery. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and volunteering with several non-profit organizations. She’s also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Over the years, we have seen many spirits brands come into the market, each one competing for a spot at the back bar. The medal winners at the Bartender Spirits Awards have repeatedly set a benchmark for buyers and drinkers for a consecutive three years. These spirits are put on the map and judged by top bartenders and mixologists for the on-premise market of the USA. 

The results from the third edition of the Bartender Spirits Awards are out and here are the highlights from America's leading spirits competition for the bar industry. 

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DAVID MCPHILLIPS Director Beverage Strategy & Innovation for Buffalo Wild Wings, Atlanta, GA, judge at the 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards

The Bartender Spirits Awards judges spirits across the parameters of Mixability, Balance and Versatility, Taste, Mouthfeel and Finish, Package and Price.
 
This competition shines the light on the fact that bartenders are the true influencers. Their passion and taste for spirits give us, the drinkers, a wide blanket of the best spirits to choose from. A recommendation from a bartender goes a long way, especially the top-notch ones making up the judging panel at the Bartender Spirits Awards! Medal winners from the competition are recommended by the country’s best bar experts - and the Top 100 On-Premise list has the skinny. 

“We wanted a way to recognize those spirits that would be a great addition to any bar and that are completely on-trend in terms of packaging and price,” said Sid Patel, Founder, and CEO of Beverage Trade Network. “Whether bartenders are looking to plug a very specific gap in their existing spirits inventory, or construct an entirely new cocktail menu from scratch, what better advice could they get than from fellow bartenders?”

Medals are awarded to those spirits that meet the very specific judging criteria, with a goal of identifying spirits that should become valuable additions to bar inventories. 

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BSA was able to resume in-person judging in 2021 where America’s top bartenders came together to review brands from more than 45 different countries.

Here are the top winners of the 2021 Bartenders Spirits Awards.

Spirit of the Year - Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey
Distillery of the Year - Uncle Nearest
Best Value of the Year - Jean Fillioux Cognac Grande Champagne La Pouyade
Best Package of the Year - Green Hat Gin Citrus Floral
Liqueur of the Year - Amaro Di Angostura
Gin of the Year - Green Hat Gin Citrus Floral
Vodka of the Year - Cylinder Vodka
Tequila of the Year - Espanita Anejo Tequila
World Whisky of the Year - Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey
Brandy/ Cognac of the Year - Jean Fillioux Cognac Grande Champagne La Pouyade
Rum of the Year - Terra Mariae Spiced Rum

View all 2021 Bartenders Spirits Awards Winners.

This year, the competition saw submissions from over 45 countries including some new additions like Lebanon, Kazakhstan, and Switzerland. The highest number of spirits were entered from across the United States, followed by Mexico and France. The 2021 Bartender Spirits Awards demonstrated growth in Tequila and the Australian craft spirits culture. 

Japan made a mark in the world of spirits, coming up on top as a favorite when it came to the overall quality by country, with the highest average gold medals earned. 

"Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the industry," explained Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network, the organizing company of BSA, "and when we come out of this, we hope to see a strong rebound in the hospitality sector. The increased number of submissions in 2021 truly demonstrated the faith that our industry has in the long term outlook of the hospitality industry".

ABOUT THE BARTENDER SPIRITS AWARDS

The aim of the Bartender Spirits Awards is to provide independent and honest reviews for brands that are looking to enter or grow in the U.S. on-premise industry. The judging panel consists of some of the most renowned names in the U.S. bar industry, all of them with extensive expertise within the restaurant and bar scene. The result will be a relevant and practical source of reference for bartenders, bar managers, bar owners, and other industry professionals when making purchasing decisions for their establishments.

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