Jack Daniel’s Revises Its History to Include Slave’s Major Contribution
The Lynchburg whiskey bastion is correcting some facts in its founder’s story. Until this year, the origin story purported Jack Daniel’s namesake learned the distilling craft from a distiller named Dan Call who recognized Daniel’s work ethic. However, the distillery is using the 150th anniversary as an opportunity to give credit to where it’s due: to a slave. Apparently, it was Dan Call’s slave, named Nearis Green, who taught Daniel’s the art of whiskey making back in the 1850s.
The New York Times‘ Clay Risen wrote about Jack Daniel’s recent admission (or longtime omission depending on how you view it). The Tennessee distillery is likely not the only Southern institution to exclude slaves’ contributions. Risen writes:
“Slavery and whiskey, far from being two separate strands of Southern history, were inextricably entwined. Enslaved men not only made up the bulk of the distilling labor 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.”
Read the full story here. Take a visual tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery with a selection of images from a historic photo essay by Ed Clark originally published in LIFE magazine in 1949 below.