It took 150 years for the makers of America’s favourite whiskey Jack Daniels to admit for the first time that a Tennessee slave actually taught them the legendary recipe used in producing the whiskey.
For 15 decades, Rev Dan Call, a Lutheran preacher in Lynchburg has taken the credit for teaching the young Jack Daniel how to distil, but for reasons best known to them, the company has now come clean about who was actually behind the great recipe.
The makers of Jack Daniels said it was not Rev Call but his slave, a man called Nearis Green, who provided the renowned recipe.
Nearis Green is one of the many slaves who played a major role in the development of US whiskey whose efforts may never be known by the world.
As a boy Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, was sent to work for the Rev Call, who joined his work as a minister with a general store and distillery.
However. history has it that the Rev Call had instructed Nearis to teach Daniel how to distill as he remarked: “Uncle Nearis is the best whiskey maker that I know of.”
After the abolition of slavery, Daniel founded his own distillery and employed two of Nearis Green’s sons to work officially for him. After the death of Jack Daniel from blood poisoning in 1911, the company never officially acknowledged the role Mr Green had played in their success until now.
During the mid-19th century, some of the distilleries were owned by white businessmen. However, much of the work involved in making the whiskey was done by their slaves.
Most of the slaves became experts in the business through techniques brought from Africa and often made some of their own drinks in secret.
In 1805, there was a bounty offered by Andrew Jackson, the future president, for a runaway slave who he described as a “good distiller”.
Meanwhile, the Jack Daniels company maintains that it was not their intention not to acknowledge the contribution of the slave. Phil Epps, the global brand director for Jack Daniel’s, told The New York Times that there had been “no conscious decision” to erase Green from history.
For now, it has not yet been decided if information about Mr Green will be added to exhibits in the visitor centre.