A Slave Behind Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Revealed After 150 Years…

Apparently African distilling traditions are what makes the American whiskey so unique.

It was always believed that a preacher, grocer and distiller named Dan Call had taught his young apprentice, Jasper Newton ‘Jack’ Daniel how to run his whiskey still.

A photo shows Jack Daniel with a moustache and to his right is believed to be a son of Nearis Green - the slave who helped teach Daniel how to make whiskey

Jack Daniel’s
A photo shows Jack Daniel with a moustache and to his right is believed to be a son of Nearis Green – the slave who helped teach Daniel how to make whiskey

For years, the history of the American whiskey has been framed as a “lily-white affair”, centred on German and Scots-Irish settlers who made the alcohol.
But now the Tennessee company says Jack Daniel didn’t learn distilling from him at all, but from a man named Nearis Green – one of Call’s slaves.

It was always believed Dan Call (pictured standing wearing a hat) taught Jasper Newton 'Jack' Daniel how to distill

Call Family Distillery
 
It was always believed Dan Call (pictured standing wearing a hat) taught Jasper Newton ‘Jack’ Daniel how to distill
Jack Daniel's is a brand of Tennessee whiskey and the highest selling American whiskey in the world

 
Jack Daniel’s is a brand of Tennessee whiskey and the highest selling American whiskey in the world
Photograph of the old company band inside the original office at Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg Tennessee

 
Photograph of the old company band inside the original office at Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg Tennessee

The New York Times reports that this version of the story was never a secret but “is one that the distillery has only recently begun to embrace.”

“It’s taken something like the anniversary for us to start to talk about ourselves,” said Nelson Eddy, Jack Daniel’s in-house historian.

It is also reported that “enslaved men not only made up the bulk of the distilling labour 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.”

The Bourbon giant says it just wanted to set the record straight.