ack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey is made in Lynchburg, Tennessee. It’s been made there for 150 years now. The mythology surrounding the whiskey brand is that its founder Jack Daniel learned how to distill his whiskey from a minister named Dan Call. It turns out that while Minister Dan Call figures into the history, it is only the fact that he had a slave named Dearis Green. This isn’t a complete revelation, as there have been references to the true history of the whiskey brand before, but with the 150th anniversary at hand, the company is being more open about it (and as this diary proves) and getting a little publicity as well.
Green’s crucial role in the Jack Daniel’s whiskey-making process was referenced in the 1967 biography, “Jack Daniel’s Legacy,” by Ben A. Green. In the book, Call reportedly tells his slave (Green) to teach Daniel everything he knows.
“Uncle Nearest is the best whiskey maker that I know of,” the book quotes Call saying.
The art of whiskey making has long been deemed a “lily-white affair,” but the South’s dark history of slavery and whiskey are totally intertwined. Enslaved men made up the bulk of the distilling work force and often had crucial skilled roles in the whiskey-making process, The New York Times reports.
An important takeaway from this is that American history is the history of racism, of slavery, of many people working together and a few people trying to take credit for all of that work. It’s not as simple as black and white, but there are a lot of black and white facts that have been swept under the rug. Jack Daniels’ willingness to reveal and talk openly about this previously embarrassing bit of history shows that, even if you believe this is done sheerly for publicity, people believe that our history is not something to shy away from, it’s something to discuss and reveal the truth about. You can still be proud of your history even if you have to admit you were wrong about a good deal of your history. And you can learn where we still need to be by realizing how far we have come.