Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey became the best-selling African-American owned spirit brand in history in March, and now founder and CEO Fawn Weaver is aiming to boost similar businesses, according to a press release. The company has announced the formation of Uncle Nearest Venture Fund, a $50 million venture fund that will invest in minority-owned spirit brands.
The Uncle Nearest Venture Fund has already provided initial funding of $2 million to London-based Afro-Caribbean rum brand, Equiano, as well as Jack From Brooklyn, the maker of Sorel Liqueur. Equiano is named after abolitionist Olaudah Equiano and the company donates 5% of total earnings and $2 from every bottle sold to projects focused on freedom and equality efforts. Weaver confirmed that the announcement of the venture fund was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the destruction of Black Wall Street on June 1.
Jack From Brooklyn, Inc. was founded by Jackie Summers in 2012 and was the first-known Black-owned distillery in America post-Prohibition. Upon its initial launch, Sorel Liqueur gained instant popularity and became a bartender-beloved brand, but Summers couldn’t obtain the proper funding to maintain growth. The capital injection will allow Sorel Liqueur to return to the market as an exclusive offering via ReserveBar.com.
“Many do not know this, but I went homeless for about 18 months as I pounded the pavement to continue growing my business,” says Summers. “I never gave up because I knew it was special and that one day, someone would be willing to invest in it and in me. The moment the Uncle Nearest Venture Fund agreed to do so, we were ready – we’d only been waiting on capital.” To hear Summers tell his story of building victory from defeat on Park Street University, click here.
“We cannot go back and undo the past,” Weaver says. “But I do believe we have full power over our future, and that recreating a Black Wall Street of sorts within the spirits industry is a great place to start.”