Our Trip to Tennessee with Uncle Nearest 1856 Whiskey & The Secret History of Nathan Green & Jack Daniel's

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As owners of Dogwood Tavern, we were recently invited by the new whiskey brand Uncle Nearest 1856 to go to Tennessee to attend the Founder’s Tour and learn more about the history behind the premium whiskey, Uncle Nearest, in the town of Lynchburg Tennessee. 

So co-owner, Chad Ratliff, hopped on a few flights a made it just in time. The tour included stops at Dan Call FarmMiss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House, Farmer’s Bank/Downtown Lynchburg, Highview Cemetery/Lynchburg Cemetery, Barrel House BBQ, Nearest Green Distillery at Sand Creek Farms. You can learn more about the Founder’s Tour locations here.

All of the photos below were taken by Chad while on the tour in Tennessee.

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But first, a quick History…

Nathan “Nearest” Green (aka Uncle Nearest) was the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States who not only perfected Tennessee Whiskey, but also, and maybe more importantly, taught Jack Daniel (aka Jack Daniel’s) everything he knew about whiskey.

Unfortunately, aside from the Green family and a whisper around town, no-one really had any clue about this hidden history where Nathan Green and Jack Daniel first began distilling whiskey together until Fawn Weaver uncovered it and brought their true story to life

From the NY TimesAccording to Ms. Weaver, Green was rented out by his owners, a firm called Landis & Green, to farmers around Lynchburg, including Dan Call, a wealthy landowner and preacher who also employed a teenager named Jack Daniel to help make whiskey. Green, already adept at distilling, took Daniel under his wing and, after the Civil War and the end of slavery, went to work for him in his fledgling whiskey operation.

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Best-selling author and TEDx alum, Fawn Weaver (seen above leading the Founder’s Tour), created and launched Uncle Nearest 1856 Whiskey to honor and pay tribute to the legacy and craft of the best whiskey maker the world never knew, Nathan “Nearest” Green.

Fawn wrote the forward in the book “Jack Daniel’s Legacy” by Ben A. Green and now has the rights to Green’s biography and is writing a book honoring his life. 

“We have the enormous responsibility of raising up one legend without harming the legacy of another,” Weaver says. “Because I have no doubt if Nearest was here he would be raising a glass to Jack and Jack would be raising a glass to Nearest.” ~ from The Tennessean

Apparently, Jack and Nathan were close friends.

Dan Call’s Farm

Dan Call’s Farm

The Dan Call Farm (above), which Fawn is carefully restoring, and the surrounding 313 acre property (below) which were used by Green and Daniel, including a beautiful natural running spring, along with a peek inside the house… the old wooden walls are marked with brand burns for D.H. Call whiskey… the peeling wallpaper reveals newspaper from 1898 which they used as insulation during that era.

The Town of Lynchburg, Tennessee…

The Green & Daniel Gravesite…

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Uncle Nearest Distillery…

Currently under renovation, the Uncle Nearest distillery in Sand Creek Farms, an historic Tennessee walking horse farm (shown below).

It was such an honor to get a peek inside this hidden historical treasure as well as help the brand share their story with their amazing Uncle Nearest Whiskey.

Uncle Nearest recently launched their first commercial which aired right after the Super Bowl… Watch it below.

Have you tried Uncle Nearest Whiskey yet?

Find Uncle Nearest on I N S T A G R A M // @unclenearest

Find Uncle Nearest on F A C E B O O K // Uncle Nearest

Follow @dogwood_tavern on Instgarm for a fun Uncle Nearest giveaway coming this week!

Photos by Chad Ratliff, edits and text by Maegan Tintari

* Find the original post at www.loveMaegan.com

Dogwood Tavern Renovation Stage 1 : From the Window to the Wall

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 Renovation Stage 1: From the Window to the Wall.

One of the first changes we made when we began our renovation back in late October 2016 was breaking out this wall that blocked visual access to each of the large rooms to make one cohesive space. 

Opening up the wall created additional bar seating, allowing people in both rooms to feel they were enjoying the same experience. If you’re in the game room playing pool or sitting at a booth, you still feel like you’re a part of what’s going on in the main bar room and vice versa. You can sit anywhere and enjoy live music, karaoke or the DJ and dancing on the weekends, and bartenders can see all the way to the front door and even out the windows right from behind the bar. It’s functional and efficient and created an openly energetic flow that just FEELS good. 

Although we started many projects in the old Royal Oak building simultaneously and worked on each little by little as such until completion, the very VERY first thing we did was remove the wall that closed off the two large rooms, what have come to be known as The Game Room (right off the entryway) and The Main Bar Room (just beyond the entryway), and in doing so, it opened up the space completely, making such an incredible difference we knew would be important. 

Because we are first, a bar and not a fine dining restaurant, we wanted to be able to have a full line of vision from the main bar to the game room and to the front door, and this accomplished just that while also creating a really nice flow in the entire space. 

Here is what the wall area looked like before…

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This is the wall that once separated the two large rooms. The photo above shows the view from near the entryway looking through the game room and the photo below is looking from the main bar room towards the game room. However, the wall completely blocks any view of either.

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The goal was to remove the drywall and studs, leaving the beams and ponywall to create a partial bar with seats on either side to share the space. 

The doorway at the end was also enlarged, as it was originally a standard narrow doorway just off of the kitchen door.

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We did all of the work ourselves here, and in most of the renovation as well. 

Every single project we started in this old building turned into about 10 more headaches, as is the case with construction and converting old spaces into new and updating and creating new functional spaces which also meet all the new codes. Looking back, we had a blast and are so happy with the way it turned out, even though the process felt like a complete nightmare.

We began construction in late October 2016, but so many things needed to be done in the interim that we couldn't quite finish one project until we finished ten others, so once the windows were out and framed, this section took a bit of a backseat to all the other work that was going on. 

We worked through the winter months without a working heater and with only a few propane tanks warming the area, and let me tell you, IT WAS COLD. We were freezing and we worked mostly nights -all night and into the morning on many occasions and had to wear at least 4 layers and a jacket on some nights and we were working INSIDE. 

We also had one of the hardest winters in years (though apparently nothing in comparison to many MANY years ago) but it was definitely a challenge and made the renovation much more difficult and time consuming.

This photo was taken on January 30th 2017 and it aligned with the photos as to where were in the renovation process at that point.

This photo was taken on January 30th 2017 and it aligned with the photos as to where were in the renovation process at that point.

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Above you can see a little more progress in the area.

The slanted wood panels have been removed from the lower wall and the wood and beams in the main bar room have all been sanded down to natural.

The stools you see in the first photo below are original from the Royal Oak, & used to stage the area to see how it would work for seating.

In the photos below you can see a lot more demo work had been done to the space by this point. I believe it was around February-March 2017 and the textured walls had been smoothed out (we hired out for that), the reclaimed wood had been mounted to the soffit above the open bar window and behind the main bar and soffit above that area as well (which we did) and began scraping that old nasty cork off the ceilings in certain areas. . .

We wanted to use large slabs of wood with raw edges for our bar tops in this space and if you notice in the third photo above, we were testing out different sized samples to see what would work the best. 

We went through a few different staining techniques until we finally found the perfect rustic-raw-reclaimed wood look with all of its imperfections. 

A local wood worker named Keith Knight -who also created our exterior sign and the sign you see in the photo below, created the thick bar tops for us and they turned out really beautiful!

These photos obviously jump forward quite a bit as far as the rest of the renovation is concerned… but I’ll eventually share the entire renovation so it will all line up.

Without giving away too much of the space, since this is just the beginning, here are a few of the final cut out window below – now that we’re open.

* The stools are all from Bay Furnishings, who were a dream to work with!

And here is a look at the final space...

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Quite a big difference form the original space! Now all you have to do is stop by and see it for yourself!


Photos and text by Maegan Tintari

* Find the original post at www.loveMaegan.com

Be the DJ with Touch Tunes Mobile App

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The Touch Tunes jukebox is super fun! It gives you the you-pick-you-choose, old school music-playing-ability in a completely modern and digital way. If you see a Touch Tunes jukebox mounted on a wall in a bar -like we have in ours- you can walk right up to it, insert a few dollars and play a few songs. It's that easy.

But what actually makes the Touch Tunes jukebox SUPER FUN is the mobile app that allows you to fully control the music right from your phone and be the DJ any time you want.  

You can DOWNLOAD IT HERE for free.

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When you download the Touch Tunes mobile app and create a quick account (via email or facebook or google) you have instant access to any song in the database to play at that very moment. You simply tap it and tap play or play. It's that simple.

You even have the option to pull artists and songs from your personal playlists so you don't have to search for all your favorite songs in the app because they're already right there on your phone! However,  if you don't want to use a pre-existing playlist, you can easily search and favorite songs so they're always easy to find, make a new playlist on Touch Tunes, create a set list and be the DJ for the next few songs... or for the entire night, if you so choose.

What you also get through the app which you don't see on the real-time jukebox is the list of songs that are playing next and the ability to see when your songs are going to play. You can choose to "play next" for an extra credit if you just can't wait to hear your song NOW, OR just add it to the list and it will play as soon as the other songs in the queue are played through. The more songs you play over time, the more benefits you get - like being able to see more songs in the queue and earning free credits to play more songs!

You can pay for credits easily via PayPal, ApplePay or any credit card and the app saves your song credits for your favorite locations so they're there each time you return and login.

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If you happen to be in the wifi radius of your favorite bar, you can login at home or wherever you are and play songs when you're not there! What's the point in that, you ask? WELL, to freak out your friends, that's what! Play their favorite songs or even send secret messages when you're not around and give them a reason to think about you ;) 

If you're a regular at Dogwood Tavern, or even if you come in once in a while, it's so much more fun to have all your favorite songs at your fingertips so that with just a few taps, you've set the mood and tone that you want any time you want it.  Get the Touch Tunes mobile app NOW!

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OR you can keep it old school and use your legs and walk up to the jukebox to play your music the old fashioned way (like in the photos below).... Either way you get to be the DJ and hear all your favorite songs...  it's just a little more fun when you can control it all from your phone.

Written & Photographed by Maegan Tintari ~ Owner / Dogwood Tavern