One of America’s Most Iconic Brands

Nathan Green was born in 1820 in Maryland. He went by the name of Nearest, and at some point in his early life, he became enslaved. By his early 30s, he became a skilled distiller in Lincoln County, Tennessee, and was often hired out to other distillers to improve their whiskey.

About the same time, a 7-year-old orphan wandered onto the property of a Lynchburg preacher who also ran a distillery. The orphan kept bugging the preacher to become involved in distilling. Eventually, the preacher gave in and had Nearest train him.

Nearest taught the orphan the secret of the sugar maple charcoal filtering process which gave the whiskey a smoothness in flavor that other whiskey did not have. The process that Nearest taught is thought to have originated in West Africa.

As years passed the orphan and Nearest became friends. The orphan began selling their whiskey and eventually had enough money to buy out the preacher. By that time, Nearest was a free man but decided to continue working with the orphan. And his sons did as well. The orphan decided to rename the distillery after himself: Jack Daniel’s.

Nearest’s story in the creation of Jack Daniel’s had gone unknown for 150 years. For seven generations, Nearest and his family have worked in the Jack Daniel’s distillery. Today Nearest Green is credited with being the first master distiller in America.

The beginning of Jack Daniel’s whiskey is a remarkable one. An orphan who wouldn’t give up and a slave created one of the most iconic brands in America. That’s a great story of our society.

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“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”– Mark Twain

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