Next time you enjoy a classic “Jack & Coke,” pour out a little liquor for Nearest Green, a former slave who mentored Jack Daniel in the craft of making Tennessee whiskey.
In a segment on CBS This Morning, author Fawn Weaver shared the untold story of Nathan “Nearest” Green — and how this isn’t another story of a white man taking credit for a black man’s skill.
“After the Civil War, Jack Daniel started his own company. And the person he went to first was his mentor,” Weaver said. “And he did not see race as a barrier.”
Sure enough, Weaver found an article in a 1972 issue of Tennessee Historical Quarterly which showed Nearest Green as Daniels “first head distiller.” And while there are no known photos of Green, the clip later shows a photo of Daniel seated right next to Green’s son, and his otherwise all-white distillery staff. And reportedly, Daniel paid Green the same wage as his white counterparts — a bold act in post-Civil War Tennessee.
Check out the full clip above. And then . . . pour out a little liquor. Into a glass. With ice. And raise your glass in honor of your “Nearest” friend.