(Story as displayed at the Jack Daniel Distillery Welcome Center)
When Jack Daniel was just a boy, he left home and eventually came to live and work on the farm of a local minister by the name of Dan Call. On his farm, Call had a whiskey still that quickly drew Jack's interest. It was here that Call introduced the young Jack Daniel to Nathan "Nearest" Green. The American Civil War had yet to be fought, and Nearest was an enslaved man who watched over Call's whiskey still. Nearest took Jack under his wing and taught him everything he knew about making whiskey, including the Lincoln County process that we know today as charcoal mellowing.
After the American Civil War, Jack bought Call's still and hired Nearest, now a free man, to become Jack Daniel's first Master Distiller. Working together, Jack and Nearest appeared to have developed a friendship at a time when a relationship of this kind was uncommon. When Jack moved his distillery to the Cave Spring Hollow, where it is today, Nearest's sons, Eli and George, came to work with him. Nearest's grandsons, Ott, Jesse, and Charlie, would also come to work at the distillery. Ultimately, George and Charlie Green would become prominent landowners in Lynchburg. And, ever since Nearest's day, a member of the Green family has always worked at the Jack Daniel Distillery.
We believe the story of Nearest and Jack is bigger than whiskey, and the telling of their story is important to our town, our country, and our world. We thank author Fawn Weaver for the extensive research and broadened and deepened our understanding of Nearest Green's contributions. Because of her efforts, we now believe Nearest Green to be the first African American master distiller on record. To honor and recognize Green, Weaver has established the Nearest Green Foundation, created Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, and is opening the Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville. We believe that Jack would be proud to see Nearest's name on a distillery just down the road from his.