Image Courtesy of Eric Ryan Anderson
“I just had to lean on my ancestors and hope they showed up,” Victoria Eady Butler says, recounting her early days in blending Uncle Nearest whiskey. Her story is both as new as when she helped start the meteoric rise of the most-awarded American whiskey or bourbon brand in 2019 and as old as Tennessee whiskey itself.
Eady Butler is a trailblazer. Amongst many honors, in 2021, she was the first female to be awarded Master Blender of the Year at the American Icons of Whisky Awards. In 2022, she became the first to win that title back to back, having started in administration with the company in 2019 before elevating to master blender just nine months later. She is also the great-great-granddaughter of Nathan “Nearest” Green, the once-forgotten “first African-American master distiller on record and founding father of Tennesse whiskey.”
Eady Butler does not talk about herself or awards for long as the non-profit Nearest Green Foundation is often on her mind. She animatedly explains her palate-protecting process: no spitting whiskey out, no water and no drinking any other whiskey–but her focus is on the award-winning finish.