Jack Daniel’s is an American whiskey brand and distillery from Tennessee. Daniel’s Known for its square bottles and black label, the company was established in Lynchburg, Tennessee and acquired by the Brown-Forman Company in 1957.
Until recently, the story that the 275,000 visitors who visit Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee each year are told the same story until recently: in the 1850s a little boy named Jack went to work with Dan Call. , a preacher and grocer who Seeing the child’s potential, I taught him to make what is today the most famous whiskey in the world.
However, on the occasion of the 154th anniversary of Jack Daniels, the distillery has turned a history that has always been told in what some consider a media and social marketing campaign. According to the New York Times, the company now says that little Jack did not learn to make whiskey from the preacher Call but was taught by a man named Nearis Green, a slave. It was he who taught how to distill what would later create the most famous whiskey factory in the world.
The story is apparently not new and the distillery has never tried to hide it, but now Jack Daniels wants to tell the truth openly. “We have taken advantage of the anniversary to talk about ourselves”, said Nelson Eddy, historian of the distillery to the American newspaper.
Nearis Green’s story is not documented. There are few files on him and a lot of oral history, so it cannot be definitively proven. However, Jack Daniels has decided to take it for granted.
The history of American whiskey has always been linked to the first Scottish settlers who distilled their surplus grain to turn it into grain and export it, until it became what it is today: a business that moves more than 2,900 million dollars in the US.
Nearis’s story is not that strange. Slavery and whiskey, far from being two separate strands in the history of the American South, were intrinsically intertwined . Slaves were not only in charge of production and distillation, but also on many occasions played crucial roles as experts in the process.
Just as white cookers appropriated recipes from black cooks, distillery owners appropriated black recipes to make whiskey.
According to ‘The New York Times’, Jack Daniels’ decision to now tell Green’s story with the boy Jack would be the intention to get ahead in the collision between the growing popularity of American whiskey among the youngest and a greater awareness of the racial mix hidden under America’s culinary heritage.
The distillery insists that it simply wants to set the record straight. Green’s story has been known to historians for decades, but Jack Daniels has never wanted to officially acknowledge it.
Little Jack opened the first distillery in 1866, a year after slavery was abolished with the 13th Amendment. At that time he hired two of Green’s sons and there are photographs where Jack can be seen sitting next to a man black -probably one of the sons-, something very rare since at that time when a picture was taken in the rest of the distilleries, the blacks always came out in the back.
If Green taught Daniel to distill, other generations likely taught other skills for other spirits as well . In fact, the history of this slave has made the distillery also review the history of the process called Licoln County , in which the whiskey is filtered on saccharine maple charcoal, giving it a unique flavor and aroma.
According to legend the process was invented in 1825 by Alfred Eaton. However, historians of the distillery believe that it was an evolution of processes that the slaves had developed.