The whiskey industry in Tennessee is currently undergoing an unprecedented boom, and as part of this, the spotlight finally is being shone on the role that slaves played in helping the state to originally become such a prominent whiskey producer. Specifically, the recent launch of the Nearest Green Foundation is dedicated to honoring the work of Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green, a Tennessee slave who taught Jack Daniel the art of whiskey distilling. Of course, Jack Daniel then used the skills that Nearest Green taught him to establish Jack Daniel’s as Tennessee’s leading whiskey distillery.
Who Was Nearest Green?
The original story about Nearest Green broke last year. In honor of its 150th-anniversary celebrations, Jack Daniel’s chose to finally tell the whole story of how its founder learned to distill whiskey. Previously, anyone visiting the company’s Lynchburg distillery was told that Daniel learned to distill whiskey when he was young from a neighbor named Dan Call. While it is true that Daniel learned on Call’s property, it took the company 150 years to finally admit that it wasn’t Call who taught Daniel the craft of distilling, but Call’s slave, Nearest Green.
After countless hours of research, best-selling author Fawn Weaver discovered even more about the Nearest Green story than anyone previously knew. Not only did Green most definitely teach Jack Daniel how to distill, but records show that Green’s family continued to work closely with the Daniel family for several decades. In this sense, Nearest Green deserves much of the credit for Jack Daniel’s early success.
The Nearest Green Foundation
After originally reading about Green’s story last year, Fawn Weaver decided to dedicate her time to researching and honoring this important figure in Tennessee history. The result of her endeavors is the Nearest Green Foundation, which is sponsoring numerous projects designed to honor Green and the history of the Tennessee whiskey industry. One such project is Lynchburg’s Nearest Green Memorial Park, and the city is also set to be home to a whiskey museum. The foundation has also set up a scholarship fund to benefit Green’s descendants, and Fawn will be releasing a book about Nearest later this year. In addition, Weaver and her husband also bought Dan Call’s old farm where Green originally taught Daniel how to distill.
All of the work that the Nearest Green Foundation is doing will definitely help to call more attention to the man and his legacy. However, Jack Daniel’s is still the one that has the potential to do the most to ensure Green’s legacy is properly honored, and it seems the company has decided to do just that. Available later this summer, Jack Daniel’s special Uncle Nearest 1856 whiskey finally honors Green’s important contributions by putting his name directly on the bottle.