If you’re a bourbon aficionado, you’ve likely sampled your favorite spirit in tasting rooms, at festivals, and even along curated trails. Now you can add another peak whiskey experience by visiting the distillery that is set to break the world record for longest continuous bar, pending official authentication from the Guinness folks this week.
On March 23, Nearest Green Distillery, the Shelbyville, Tennessee, producer of award-hoarding Uncle Nearest bourbons and ryes, is opening an on-site restaurant and music venue dubbed Humble Baron. Inside that venue is a winding, 518-foot-long bar that surpasses the previous record holder by more than one hundred feet. (Sorry, Beer Barrel Saloon of Put-in-Bay, Ohio—records, like liquor bottle seals, are made to be broken.)
“If you look at our operation, Uncle Nearest is the most-awarded bourbon the last four years running and the biggest-selling Black-owned spirits brand in history,” says Nearest Green cofounder Keith Weaver. “As an extension of that, we’re wired to run fast and break records, to go bold or don’t go at all.”
Such ambition is by no means a gamble. The distillery is already a destination, drawing 110,000 visitors last year even though Shelbyville, situated about an hour’s drive south of Nashville, has a population of 20,000.
Other features of Humble Baron touted by the owners are the state-of-the art sound system (designed by the folks responsible for the same at Prince’s iconic Paisley Park) and twin stages that allow for shows in the 18,000-square-foot interior, or the expansive outdoor area that can host up to 15,000 fans for touring acts or festivals. First-class amenities also extend to the performers’ backstage green-room. “Artists are not as respected as they should be,” Weaver says. “I want them to be in a beautiful space before they ever get to the stage.”
If those artists or fans get peckish, Humble Baron’s kitchen offers a menu developed by James Beard–nominated celebrity chef G. Garvin, with signature dishes that include Nashville hot shrimp and grits, and snow crab claws marinated in brown butter and sage. Naturally, there is also a serious bar program, crafted with the hospitality company behind the Death & Co. cocktail meccas.
But let’s belly back up to that record-breaking bar, shall we? “It’s pretty much the whole space,” Weaver describes. “As you enter Humble Baron, you are greeted with one big horseshoe bar that flows into two smaller horseshoes and then flows on from there.”
Along that serpentine journey, there are seventeen separate service areas stocked with 3,048 glasses, and 202 barstools. “We could have added even more stools, but I’m a big guy myself, and I want everybody to be comfortable,” Weaver says. “The way I think of this space, and what I want in life, is for everyone to have a seat at the table. Whether you’re a lawyer or drive a tractor by day, you come here and feel comfortable and strike up a conversation.”
Or maybe 201 conversations, if all those stools are occupied.