The Go-To Whiskey Marcus Samuelsson Loves To Sip - Exclusive

Every whiskey-drinker may have a favorite whiskey, but not everyone who enjoys whiskey is an award-winning chef responsible for the creation of delicious food and drinks. Marcus Samuelsson is — and as part of a partnership with the National Peanut Board, Samuelsson recently created a pop-up menu of all peanut-based food and drinks and released several of his recipes online. One of these happens to be a PB&J Old Fashioned, a drink that uses bourbon as its main spirit.

"It's fun with something classic that everybody can relate to — an adult version with that rim has a lot of nice grape jelly, and then dunking the glass in a little peanut salt on top of that rim gets you that flavor of peanut and jelly," he told us in an exclusive interview. "When muddling the grapes, that grape feel comes through, and we use peanut bourbon so you get that nice smokiness into the old-fashioned as well."

While his recipe includes Chambord along with the grapes for a touch of fruit, it doesn't specify which bourbon Samuelsson had in mind for the drink. We asked him about his pour of choice, and he was happy to explain: "We use two bourbons, but we're also using the Uncle Nearest here, which we love to use." Samuelsson's go-to drink is not without some controversy, especially when applying the "bourbon" label.

Who was Uncle Nearest?

Uncle Nearest has the distinction of having a name with as complex a history as the taste of the drink itself. Nathan Green, also known as "Uncle Nearest," is arguably one of the founding fathers of modern-day bourbon. Green was a master distiller enslaved on the Tennessee farm of a reverend and distiller. He ended up teaching a young boy the art of distillation and helped him create his own brand of whiskey. While Green went unrecognized as the master that he was, the boy, Jasper Newton Daniel — also known as Jack Daniel — went on to have his name plastered on bottles all around.

In 2016, Fawn Weaver founded Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, the name paying homage to the long-under-celebrated whiskey maker. The brand offers several lines of whiskey that are not explicitly labeled as "bourbon" but do meet all the legal requirements to be classified as one (using the term is strictly voluntary). Since its creation, Uncle Nearest Whiskey has won award after award, including becoming the only American whiskey to win masters awards at the Global Spirits Masters Competition in 2022.  We can see why this whiskey has become a go-to for Marcus Samuelsson — especially for bringing its peanutty notes into his special Old Fashioned.

The Marcus Bar & Grille pop-up ended on Sunday, October 15. To keep up with Marcus Samuelsson's latest projects and future events, follow him on Instagram.