Friday, November 25, 2022

Who Taught Jack Daniels To Make Whiskey

Who Taught Jack Daniels How To Distill Whiskey

The lost story of the slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey

Asked by: Ruben Goodwin

They planned to honor Nathan Nearest Green, the African American man who taught the real Jack Daniel to make whiskey in the mid-1800s. Green had been enslaved on the farm of a preacher and distiller named Dan Call Jack Daniel, 30 years younger than Green, was a chore boy on the same farm.

A Whiskey Brand Of Their Own

Jack Daniel and his descendants made a lot of money from their whiskey company over the years. In 1956, the family sold it to Brown-Forman for $20 million about $190 million in today’s money.

While Nearest Green and his descendants do appear to have been paid fairly by the Daniel family, they didn’t own any of the distillery and, consequently, didn’t get any of those millions.

For decades, Nearest Green’s name, legacy and contribution to whiskey were largely unknown to anyone outside Lynchburg, Tennessee even though, after the Civil War, according to census data, Nearest Green and his family owned sizable plots of land and were wealthier than many white families living in Lynchburg.

Weaver was able to meet Green’s descendants during her research and asked them how they would like to see him honored. They told her that “putting his name on a bottle, letting people know what he did, would be great.”

This gave Weaver the idea to start her own whiskey company that honored Green’s legacy. By 2019 she had raised $40 million from investors to create Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey. Later that year she opened the Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville. Weaver now serves as CEO of the company, with Victoria Eady-Butler, a descendant of Green’s, employed as the distillery’s master blender.

And hopefully more stories of people like Nearest Green an accomplished Black man with a rich, nuanced life will emerge.

How An Enslaved Distiller Was Written Out Of Jack Daniel’s History

Uncovering the true story of a legendary American brand

Back in 1866, Jack Daniels became the first registered distillery in the United States today, its the top-selling American whiskey in the world. For much of the brands 150-plus years, the story went that the young Jack Daniel learned his trade from a pastor named Dan Call. In reality, he was taught to distill by an enslaved African, Nearest Green, whose contributions had been written out of history. In this episode of the Gastropod podcast, listen in as Fawn Weaver, the entrepreneur who has made rediscovering Greens story her business, and Clay Risen, the whiskey expert whose 2016 article in The New York Times launched Weavers quest, tell us the true story of Nearest Green and Jack Danieland of American whiskey.

Risen was intrigued, so he traveled to Lynchburg, Tennessee, and wrote an article for The New York Times, tying what little was known about Nearest Green to the larger erasure of enslaved peoples role in American whiskey making. I could sort of sketch the outlines, he saidbut he felt as if there was more to the story than he had been able to uncover. In the article, he wrote that Nearis Greens storybuilt on oral history and the thinnest of archival trailsmay never be definitively proved.

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Frontier history is a gauzy and unreliable pursuit, and Nearis Greens story built on oral history and the thinnest of archival trails may never be definitively proved. Still, the decision to tell it resonates far beyond this small city.

For years, the prevailing history of American whiskey has been framed as a lily-white affair, centered on German and Scots-Irish settlers who distilled their surplus grains into whiskey and sent it to far-off markets, eventually creating a $2.9 billion industry and a product equally beloved by Kentucky colonels and Brooklyn hipsters.

Left out of that account were men like Nearis Green. Slavery and whiskey, far from being two separate strands of Southern history, were inextricably entwined. Enslaved men not only made up the bulk of the distilling labor force, but they often played crucial skilled roles in the whiskey-making process. In the same way that white cookbook authors often appropriated recipes from their black cooks, white distillery owners took credit for the whiskey.

Meet Nearest Green The Man Behind Jack Daniels Success

A slave, Nathan " Nearest"  Green, originally taught Jack Daniels how to ...

In 2016, the New York Times published a story about the distillers hidden ingredienthelp from a slave. In the article, the brand officially acknowledged that an enslaved man, Nearest Green, taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. Since then, scholars, researchers, and journalists have descended upon Lynchburg, Tennessee, hoping to learn more about a man who had appeared as a mere appendage in the story of the countrys most popular whiskey brand.

Stefanie Benjamin, an assistant professor in Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management tells the story and legacy of Nearest Green for The Conversation.

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Jack Daniels Embraces A Hidden Ingredient: Help From A Slave

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By Clay Risen

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. Every year, about 275,000 people tour the Jack Daniels distillery here, and as they stroll through its brick buildings nestled in a tree-shaded hollow, they hear a story like this: Sometime in the 1850s, when Daniel was a boy, he went to work for a preacher, grocer and distiller named Dan Call. The preacher was a busy man, and when he saw promise in young Jack, he taught him how to run his whiskey still and the rest is history.

This year is the 150th anniversary of Jack Daniels, and the distillery, home to one of the worlds best-selling whiskeys, is using the occasion to tell a different, more complicated tale. Daniel, the company now says, didnt learn distilling from Dan Call, but from a man named Nearis Green one of Calls slaves.

This version of the story was never a secret, but it is one that the distillery has only recently begun to embrace, tentatively, in some of its tours, and in a social media and marketing campaign this summer.

Its taken something like the anniversary for us to start to talk about ourselves, said Nelson Eddy, Jack Daniels in-house historian.

Jack Daniels says it simply wants to set the record straight. The Green story has been known to historians and locals for decades, even as the distillery officially ignored it.

The Untold Story Of The Enslaved Black Man Who Taught Jack Daniel How To Make Whiskey

Celebrating its 150th anniversary, the Jack Daniels whiskey brand is opting to share a part of its history that has never been told before.

Up until now, the companys history has been centered on the notion that revered founder Jack Daniel learned to distill his now famous whiskey from a minister named Dan Call. Tour guides at the companys Lynchburg, Tennessee distillery are now telling a different story Daniel was actually taught to distill by Nearis Green an enslaved Black man owned by Call.

According to The New York Times, this version of Jack Daniels history has never been a secret, but it is one that the company has only recently begun to embrace through tours of its facility, marketing campaigns and social media.

Its taken something like the anniversary for us to start to talk about ourselves, said Jack Daniels in-house historian Nelson Eddy.

Greens crucial role in the Jack Daniels whiskey-making process was referenced in the 1967 biography, Jack Daniels Legacy, by Ben A. Green. In the book, Call reportedly tells his slave to teach Daniel everything he knows.

Uncle Nearest is the best whiskey maker that I know of, the book quotes Call saying.

The art of whiskey making has long been deemed a lily-white affair, but the Souths dark history of slavery and whiskey are totally intertwined. Enslaved men made up the bulk of the distilling work force and often had crucial skilled roles in the whiskey-making process, The New York Times reports.

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The Lost Story Of Nearest Green The Slave Who Taught Jack Daniel How To Make Whiskey

This piece originally aired Nov. 28, 2017.

There’s no mystery about what goes into Jack Daniel’s whiskey. The popular drink has been around for 151 years and its recipe is on the company’s website. But a story about how Jack Daniel began his distillery is only now gaining attention.

Some of the first clues about the role of Nearest Green were in Daniel’s official biography, published in 1967, more than half a century after his death. Green was mentioned about 50 times. Then his name seemed to disappear, until author Fawn Weaver helped uncover the truth at the heart of how Daniel came to make whiskey, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

“It’s important to set the record straight because anyone who accomplished something like Nearest did should be honored,” Weaver said.

What Nearest Green, a slave, did was teach Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.

“It was on the cover of The New York Times international edition. It was possible that an African-American was behind Jack Daniel’s. And it’s never been spoken about until now?” Weaver said.

For Weaver, finding proof of Green’s legacy has become a passion bordering on obsession. Over the past year, Weaver has collected a library of documents, letters and pictures hoping to parse the truth from folklore.

After digging for over 2,500 hours and speaking to more than 100 relatives, it started to come together.

Is Uncle Nearest Whiskey Owned By Black People

“Uncle Nearest” honors slave who taught Jack Daniel to make whiskey

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has closed a $2.1 million deal to acquire land for the expansion of the company’s distillery, reported Afro Tech. The premium beverage brand is owned by a Black woman named Fawn Weaver. The company has announced that they have closed on a deal that makes it 53.12 acres richer.

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Formerly Enslaved Black Man Nearest Green Taught Jack Daniel Everything He Knew About Whiskey Today The Founder Of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Celebrates His Legacy

Fawn Weaver, founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, launched the Nearest Green Legacy Scholarship Fund for Green’s direct descendants, and is paving the way for other BIPOC founders.

“I wish I had more brilliant forethought,” Fawn Weaver, founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, says of the company’s founding, “but it was more serendipitous.”

Jason Myers

The stars began to align for Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey with the June 25, 2016 publication of a New York Times article by Clay Risen, who delves into the history of Jack Daniel’s, one of the world’s best-selling whiskeys, in honor of the distillery’s 150th anniversary. Risen recounts a tale familiar to many whiskey aficionados: A young Daniel comes to work on preacher Dan Call’s farm in Lynchburg, Tennessee, where the preacher, who also happens to be a grocer and distiller, teaches him the tricks of the whiskey trade.

But that’s not the whole story not even close. Today, the Brown-Forman Corporation, which has owned Jack Daniel Distillery since 1956, acknowledges that the preacher didn’t teach Daniel how to distill at all. A formerly enslaved Black man by the name of Nathan “Nearest” Green, who also worked on Call’s farm, did. In his 2016 piece, Risen writes that although “the story was never a secret,” it “may never be definitively proved.”

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Nearest Green Foundation Honors Ex

Culture, News – 5 years ago

Plans to honor Nathan Nearest Green include street renaming, museum, memorial park, book, and a scholarship fund.

New York Times best-selling author Fawn Weaver has created the Nearest Green Foundation, an organization that will honor the man who taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey. In a press statement, Weaver said she was inspired to create the foundation, after learning about Green from a story written by the New York Times in 2016. The story detailed Greens relationship with Dan Call, who owned a whiskey distillery in the mid-1800s in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Green, who was an enslaved black man, served as the master distiller for Calls whiskey operations, and ultimately taught Daniels how to make the liquor.

The idea that there were positive stories out there of whites and Blacks working side by side, through and beyond the Civil War, resonated with me, Weaver said. I liked the story of Jack Daniel, but Nearest Greens story and the community at large really stayed with me.

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How Nearest Green Taught Jack Daniel To Make Whiskey

When you hear the name Jack Daniel, whiskey probably comes to mind.

But what about the name Nathan “Uncle Nearest” Green?

In 2016, The New York Times about the distiller‘s “hidden ingredient” “help from a slave.” In the article, the brand officially acknowledged that an enslaved man, Nearest Green, taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. Since then, scholars, researchers and journalists have descended upon Lynchburg, Tennessee, hoping to learn more about a man who, until then, had appeared as a mere appendage in the story of the country’s most popular whiskey brand.

As a scholar of tourism whose research involves highlighting marginalized populations and counternarratives, I followed these developments with keen interest.

In the fall of 2020, my critical sustainable tourism students created a short documentary, “Uncovering Nearest.” I wanted my students to learn more about Green, since so many voices and faces of enslaved Africans and Black Americans have been silenced or erased from American history textbooks and heritage tourism sites.

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    How An Enslaved Man Helped Jack Daniel Develop His Famous Whiskey

    • Publish date: May 13, 2022

    Jack Daniel, with mustache and white hat, is shown at his distillery in Tennessee in the late 1800s. The man to his right could be Nearest Green, an enslaved man who helped teach Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, or one of Greens sons.

    Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green, who taught Jack Daniel the art of whiskey distillation, went unacknowledged for more than 150 years.

    Jack Daniels stands as one of the most iconic American brands and most popular spirits in the world. Yet while the whiskey and its eponymous founder have become dominant names in American liquor lore, the person perhaps most responsible for its successan enslaved man named Nathan Nearest Green, who taught Jack Daniel the art of whiskey distillationwent unacknowledged for more than 150 years.

    When Jack Daniels Failed To Honor A Slave An Author Rewrote History

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    By Clay Risen

    LYNCHBURG, Tenn. Fawn Weaver was on vacation in Singapore last summer when she first read about Nearest Green, the Tennessee slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.

    Greens existence had long been an open secret, but in 2016 Brown-Forman, the company that owns the Jack Daniel Distillery here, made international headlines with its decision to finally embrace Greens legacy and significantly change its tours to emphasize his role.

    It was jarring that arguably one of the most well-known brands in the world was created, in part, by a slave, said Ms. Weaver, 40, an African-American real estate investor and author.

    Determined to see the changes herself, she was soon on a plane from her home in Los Angeles to Nashville. But when she got to Lynchburg, she found no trace of Green. I went on three tours of the distillery, and nothing, not a mention of him, she said.

    Rather than leave, Ms. Weaver dug in, determined to uncover more about Green and persuade Brown-Forman to follow through on its promise to recognize his role in creating Americas most famous whiskey. She rented a house in downtown Lynchburg, and began contacting Greens descendants, dozens of whom still live in the area.

    As she tells it, she was looking for a new project when she picked up that newspaper in Singapore.

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    Back In 1866 Jack Daniel’s Became The First Registered Distillery In The United States Today It’s The Top

    In June 2016, Fawn Weaver was in Singapore, browsing an international edition of The New York Times, when a headline caught her eye: “Jack Daniel embraces a hidden ingredient: Help from a slave.” The story was written by Clay Risen, who had originally been tipped off to the story by a press person from the brand’s parent company, looking to generate coverage around the 150th anniversary of Jack Daniel’s. Risen, who grew up in Tennessee and had recently authored a book called American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit, realized that, at some point in his research, he had read that a slave was involved in Jack Daniel’s foundingbut there hadn’t been much more detail to the story than that. “It wasn’t a secret,” Risen told Gastropod, “but it wasn’t something that people talked about in any real way.”

    Risen was intrigued, and so he traveled to Lynchburg and wrote an article for TheNew York Times, tying what little was known about Nearest Green to the larger erasure of the role of enslaved people in American whiskey-making. “I could sort of sketch the outlines,” he told usbut he felt like there was more to the story than he had been able to uncover. In the article, he wrote that “Nearis Greens storybuilt on oral history and the thinnest of archival trailsmay never be definitively proved.”

    This photo from the late 1800sone of just a handful that show Jack Daniel also shows Nearest Green’s son, sitting at his right-hand side.

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