Nearest & Jack - photo of rickhouse interior

Watch and listen how the 2023 Summit impacted attendees and be sure to let us know if you're interested in attending next year.

Stay in the know. Planning is underway for the 2024 Summit.

Two Tennessee Whiskeys Linked By a Shared History, United To Advance Diversity In the Spirits Industry

Inspired by the historic and storied relationship between Nathan "Nearest" Green, godfather of Tennessee Whiskey, and Jasper "Jack" Daniel, founder of America's first registered distillery, a joint initiative by Uncle Nearest Whiskey and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey has established The Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative.

Investing time, resources, and a pledge of $5 million, this joint initiative aims work with participants representing the BIPOC community who aspire to become head distillers, heads of maturation, and production managers. The pledge will also provide mentorship to BIPOC entrepreneurs while advancing STEM and distilling focused skills within the Tennessee college curriculum.

Inaugural Program Graduates

Program Opportunity

Leadership Acceleration - photo of laboratory

Leadership Acceleration Program

The Leadership Acceleration Program (LAP) strives to advance the career paths of talented professionals to positions of visibility and importance within the spirits industry.

  • Two candidates are accepted into the program each cycle which runs approximately 18 months.
  • This program seeks candidates with experience in beverage alcohol, consumer goods, and/or hospitality who are ready for mid-career acceleration (not entry level).
  • Roles include Distillery Operations, Marketing, and Sales which have a visible presence and impact on the respective company.
  • Must apply through each company's established processes.

Accelerate Your Leadership Growth & Inquire Today


Business Incubator - photo of whiskey barrels

Business Incubation Program

In an effort to fortify BIPOC owned businesses, the Business Incubation Program (BIP) strengthens and forges business development through access to industry expertise and resources.

  • Must have a brand with at least two (2) years in the marketplace.
  • Must have production and distribution of at least 1,000 9L cases annually.
  • Must be majority BIPOC owned.
  • Must have a distributor or be self distributing where legal.
  • Founders/owners must be engaged in the daily operations of the business (not passive owners).
  • Ownership structure must be clearly defined and free of conflicts.

Inquire Today & Take Your Business To The Next Level


Motlow State Community College logo

Motlow State Community College

The Nearest Green School of Distilling leverages an accredited STEM based curriculum within the academic offerings at Motlow State Community College with a focus on the alcohol beverage distilling industry.

Explore this opportunity at Motlow State College.

Inquire Today About Our Programs

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Byron Copeland

Leadership Acceleration Program

Byron Copeland, one of our first graduates of the Leadership Acceleration program has been on the move and giving back.

After graduating from the program in September 2022, Copeland carried his learnings from our program as well as his experience as an Operations Team Leader at the Jack Daniel Cooperage to his new role as Manager of Leadership Acceleration & Maturation Innovation at the Jack Daniel Distillery.

Byron joined Brown-Forman in 2015 after previous operations roles for Sabra Dipping Company, Target, and Atlanta Gas Light. He earned a BA from Morehouse College and MBA from Columbia Southern University.

The Leadership Acceleration Program is designed to advance the professional development of African Americans with goals of being future head distillers, distillery managers, and other senior management positions within the alcohol beverage industry.

Learn More about Byron

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Tracie Franklin

Leadership Acceleration Program

One of our two inaugural Leadership Acceleration Program candidates and apprentices, Tracie Franklin is taking her experience and knowledge to the world as a whiskey educator, industry diversity advocate, consultant and much more.

Franklin launched SPIRITED TRACIE and traverses the industry near and far with boundless energy for the world spirits and the people who love our brands.

Tracie earned a BFA from California State University-Fullerton and previously worked with William Grant & Sons, Whersky, and SPIRIBAM.

The Leadership Acceleration Program is designed to advance the professional development of African Americans with goals of being future head distillers, distillery managers, and other senior management positions within the alcohol beverage industry.

Spirited Tracie

Du Nord Craft Spirits logo

Du Nord Social Spirits

Business Incubation Program

A true gem among small batch distilleries, Du Nord Social Spirits emerged from our Business Incubation program in 2021 stronger than ever.

Founder and leader Chris Montana toiled tirelessly to rebrand his portfolio, overhaul package design, and take a fresh approach to the Du Nord Social Spirits online experience. All the hard work did not go unnoticed, Delta Airlines has chosen Du Nord as their global supplier of vodka.

Founded in 2013 by Chris Montana, the Minneapolis, Minnesota based distillery produces gin, vodka, liqueurs and whiskeys. Du Nord continues its commitment to diversifying the craft alcohol community by actively recruiting underrepresented communities of women and racial minorities.

The Business Incubation Program provides BIPOC entrepreneurs with mentorship in all areas of the distilling business including access to marketing, branding, expanded distribution networks, and other assets and opportunities for growth.

Explore Du Nord Social Spirits