After almost two centuries of going unacknowledged for teaching Jack Daniels, a Black man is finally getting credited as a Master Distiller for the iconic whiskey brand.
Originally founded in 1866, the square bottle has grown to be one of the most popular spirit brands in the world. During their 150 year anniversary in 2016, executives finally acknowledged Nearest Green as the man who schooled Jack on how to craft sour mash whiskey.
Reportedly a slave, Green was rented out by his owners to a nearby farm that also employed a teenager named Jack Daniels. From there Green took Daniels under his wing showing him the ins and outs of the distillation process.
But aside from the formal acknowledgment in 2016 by the brand owner’s Brown-Forman, little was done to truly incorporate Green’s name into the company’s legacy and timeline.
This took real estate investor and author Fawn Weaver by shock who learned about the glaring omission while vacationing in Singapore. “It was jarring that arguably one of the most well-known brands in the world was created, in part, by a slave.”
This led her to visit the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee to see for herself. Unfortunately, upon her arrival there was very little trace of Green anywhere. “I went on three tours of the distillery, and nothing, not a mention of him,” she explained.
“I went on three tours of the distillery, and nothing, not a mention of him,” she explained.
Instead of returning to her regular life Weaver decided to rent out a home in the area to further learn about Green. Her findings not only confirmed he trained Daniels but he also went on to work for his distillery after the Civil War making him the first African-American master distiller in America.
Her diligence has led Brown-Forman to officially confirm Nearest Green as their first master distiller in May. Weaver is also writing a book about Green and has recently launched her own whiskey brand Uncle Nearest 1856.