You may be familiar with the name Jack Daniel. But what do you know about Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green, the slave who taught him how to make whiskey? One organization wants to educate the masses, because its paying tribute to him in a variety of ways.
Best-selling author Fawn Weaver launched the Nearest Green Foundation recently, a group that will honor Green’s contributions to the alcohol industry.
Weaver thought of the idea after learning about him from a 2016 New York Times article that outlined Green’s relationship with Dan Call, the owner of a Lynchburg, Tennessee, whiskey distillery where Green was assigned to worked, and Jack Daniel, Call’s neighbor who initially did chores at the factory.
Once Daniel showed an interest in distilling, Call instructed Green, "the best whiskey maker” he knew, to train Daniel, and Call eventually passed the distillery on to him.
"The idea that there were positive stories out there of whites' and blacks' working side by side, through and beyond the Civil War, resonated with me," Weaver said in a press release. "I liked the story of Jack Daniel, but Nearest Green's story and the community at large really stayed with me."
Now she has big plans for the organization. Weaver and her husband have already purchased the 313-acre farm where Call’s distillery was located. And she hopes to recognize him by creating a memorial park and opening a museum in Lynchburg that will highlight the history of Tennessee whiskey.
But that’s not all. Weaver also wants to rename a local street to Nearest Green Way, publish a book chronicling Green’s life and launch a scholarship fund for his direct descendants. And later this month, she will release “Uncle Nearest 1856," a Tennessee-crafted whiskey to celebrate Green.
"When I met with the descendants of George Green, the son most known for helping his father, Nearest, and Jack Daniel in the whiskey business, I asked them what they thought was the best way to honor Nearest,” Weaver said. “Their response was, 'No one owes us anything. We know that. But putting his name on a bottle, letting people know what he did, would be great.'"