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After 150 years, Jack Daniels has finally revealed that a slave was behind the world-famous recipe of America’s most popular whisky
Until now, the story told was that a white moonshine distiller named Dan Call had taught his young apprentice, Jasper Newton ‘Jack’ Daniel, how to run his Tennessee distillery.
But it appears that the brand is finally ready to embrace its controversial history after it revealed it was not Dan Call, but one of Call’s slaves named Nearis Green who had passed on his distilling experience to Daniel.
|After 150 years, Jack Daniels has finally revealed that a slave was behind the world-famous recipe of America’s most popular whisky. A photo taken from the time shows a man thought to be one of Nearis Green’s (the slave who passed on the recipe) sons sitting on the left of founder Jack Daniel (circled, right) and his workers|
According to a 1967 biography, Jack Daniel’s Legacy, Call told his slave to teach Daniel everything he knew.
‘Uncle Nearest is the best whiskey maker that I know of,’ Call is recorded as having said.
Slavery was brought to an end in 1865 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment.
Daniel opened his own distillery a year later where he employed two of Green’s sons.
Phil Epps, the global brand director for Jack Daniel’s at Brown-Forman, which has owned the distillery for 60 years, insists it was not a ‘conscious decision’ to omit the Greens from the whisky’s history.
But at a time when the distillery was trying to market Jack Daniels to the segregated south, it is also unlikely that they would have celebrated its black heritage.
Epps said they had come across the founder story while researching the origin of the whisky.
‘As we dug into it, we realized it was something that we could be proud of,’ Epps said.
Some critics have criticized the move as a cynical way to target a new market of millennials who are known for ‘digging at social issues.’ By celebrating the history now, it prevents it coming out later expectantly.
However, the brand claims it’s simply keen to set the record straight.
After decades of ignoring the Greens’ story, which was well known to local historians, Jack Daniels has accepted the history which will be featured on its distillery tour.
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