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Headquartered in Shelbyville, Tennessee, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is inspired by the best whiskey-maker the world never knew, the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States, Nearest Green.

At Deluxe Exchange 2021, Deluxe welcomed Kate Jerkens, Uncle Nearest’s Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing along with Deluxe Account Development Executive Caroline Smaldon to discuss how Uncle Nearest partnered with Deluxe to create innovative solutions in the face of a pandemic that was busy ravaging the bar and restaurant industry. 

In March of 2020, the Uncle Nearest sales and marketing team should have been out on the streets, working hard to get their cocktails on the menus at bars and restaurants. Instead, just like most of the rest of us, they were stuck on a Zoom call trying to figure out what to do next.

During the call, Jerkens said that founder and CEO Fawn Weaver calmly assured everybody that Uncle Nearest wouldn’t be making any rash decisions but they needed to strategize and be smart in how they moved forward. That call resulted in the creation of a handful of committees for their team to analyze how they could remain visible and aggressive in a suddenly new world where nobody was able to consume cocktails in bars or restaurants.

Jerkens said the team knew it was going to be a challenge but the first question they realized that they asked themselves was “How do we help these bars, restaurants and liquor stores?” From there they came out with a “coming out swinging” plan, where each individual would create a marketing plan with a focus on exactly what they were going to do when they were able to continue working with their clients safely.

Knowing that supporting bars and restaurants would be crucial to keeping their product moving, Uncle Nearest teamed with Deluxe on a strategy for point of sale. First they created branded hand sanitizers and masks to distribute to front line workers in the industry not only to help them with their PPE needs but also to keep brand presence front and center.

Next, since bars and restaurants were shut down, multiple states offered the ability for those establishments to offer “to go” cocktails. The Deluxe Promo team worked with Uncle Nearest to build their own to-go cocktail kit that they could distribute to restaurants in order to sell Uncle Nearest cocktails with to-go orders.

Uncle Nearest Cocktail Kit

The result was a fun (and very successful) cocktail kit that was included as a gift with a purchase. The kit contained a recipe for a signature Uncle Nearest cocktail, the necessary fixings for that cocktail, as well as a Uncle Nearest branded glass and cocktail napkins.

Thanks to quick work and a solid partnership with Deluxe, Uncle Nearest was able to weather the storm of the lock downs and keep their brand top of mind with consumers. They had originally forecasted to sell 80,000 cases but they ended up selling more than 120,000 cases thanks to their innovative pandemic strategy.

Cheers to that!

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