In celebration of Black History Month, we’re featuring some of our favorite bottles by Black makers. They top our team’s list year-round, so spend this February getting acquainted with these stellar selections and add them to your regular rotation.
Baller, Shot Caller, and Much More
In an era of Renaissance across the wine industry, perhaps no one is pushing the wine culture further than André Hueston Mack. Sommelier, winemaker, designer, and entrepreneur — at the heart of André’s many business projects are his two passions of winemaking and Black culture.
The first Black man to earn the title of Best Young Sommelier in America from Chaine des Rotisseurs, André went on to illustrious sommelier gigs at Thomas Keller joints French Laundry in Yountville, CA, and Per Se in New York City. A master of the business pivot, André began making his own exclusive wines for premier New York restaurants, eventually gaining access to some of the most exciting and high-quality fruit in Oregon, and finally founded Maison Noir in 2007.
A self-described “micro-negociant,” Mack’s winemaking enterprise is as diversified as his business model. Focusing on the purest expression of Oregon terroir, Maison Noir wines are assembled from fruit grown “with respect for the land and low intervention.” Sourced from Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton, and Dundee Hills, you can experience how this complex web of creativity comes to bear in Maison Noir O.P.P. (Other People’s Pinot) Noir. A classic Willamette cherry with warm spice and herbal notes, André calls this bottle, “sexy, provoking, and naughty (by nature).”
Availability is limited, check with your local Top Ten Liquors. And if you’re down with O.P.P., it’s well worth checking out more of André’s designs on wine at https://maisonnoirwines.com/schwag.
Whiskey for the Ages
If you’re a Tennessee whiskey fan, you undoubtedly know our friend Jack Daniel. The stylistic fave of those who prefer their drams without the bite of a Kentucky bourbon, Jack learned the art of distilling Tennessee style from the true King, Nathaniel “Nearest” Green. A formerly enslaved man, Nathaniel was the country’s first-known Black Master Distiller. Many experts consider him to be responsible for perfecting the Lincoln County Process of filtering through sugar maple charcoal and aging in charred oak, giving the finished whiskey its distinctive smooth and round character.
Today, Uncle Nearest is the most-awarded American premium whiskey brand in history. The distillery and brand are owned by Uncle Nearest, Inc., and the business remains entirely minority-led. The whiskeys are all distilled, aged, bottled, and hand-labeled in Tennessee. This. Stuff. Is. Delicious.
Each release of the Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch blend is curated by co-founder Fawn Weaver and descendants of Nathaniel Green himself. Aged a minimum of 7 years, the palate is lean and bright, with buttery pastry, honey, nutmeg and toasty wood notes. The Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey, a blend of premium whiskies ages 8 to 14 years, is a thing of beauty. Layered with figs and nuts, sweet maple, peach and apricot, this is arguably the smoothest and most complex of Tennessee whiskies.