The Untold Story of Whiskey Pioneer & Jack Daniel’s Creator: Nearest Green

May 26, 2022

Cocktail connoisseurs can more than likely relate: as subject matter experts, who doesn’t love a good whiskey sour or a good old fashion? These cocktails and their fans have one thing in common: smoky, malty, and deliciously rich whiskey. And one brand that knows how to make a great batch of whiskey is none other than internationally-recognized Jack Daniel’s. 

How did Jack Daniel’s become a household name?

As common as the brand is, many people aren’t aware of the background story of where Jack Daniel’s whiskey came from and how the recipe came to life. Behind every great business, the story is a humble beginning, and Jack Daniel’s story began with African-American head stiller Nathan “Nearest” Green. 

The process

Green, known as Uncle Nearest, is the first-known African American master distiller. Uncle Nearest was born into slavery around the 1820s in Maryland and migrated to Lynchburg, Tennessee, where he began distilling on a local farm he worked in Lincoln County. Aside from working in the fields, he worked on his craft. During his time on the farm, he created a unique distilling process that produced smooth textured, sugar maple, charcoal-filtered whiskey. The charcoal filtration is what sets Tennessee whiskey apart from bourbon. And this is the critical element that made Jack Daniel’s whiskey what it is today. 

Growth and expansion

The farm owner asked Uncle Nearest to share and teach his whiskey-making process with a young white chore boy, Jasper Newton, who came to work for the farm during the 1850s. Over the years, Uncle Nearest helped Newton perfect his whiskey-making, and eventually, Newton reached an age where he could sell the liquor. He created a massive business centered around whiskey-making, selling to soldiers during the civil war, and becoming a favorite whiskey source in Lynchburg and surrounding towns. Once Uncle Nearest was free, Newton employed him until he retired, and also employed Uncle Nearest’s sons and grandsons. Newton’s business became a Tennessee-renowned brand and continued its massive footprint and expansion, now known today as Jack Daniel’s. 

The Uncle Nearest brand 

Uncle Nearest is a household name of its own. Inspired by the best whiskey maker himself, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is the top award-winning whiskey in America. It is available in all 50 states and 12 countries, and in more than 25,000 stores, bars, and restaurants. The brand offers three distilled whiskeys: a single-barrel, premium aged option, a small batch option, and a master blend. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey and Nearest Green Distillery are wholly Black-owned and founded by CEO Fawn Weaver. 

Want to learn more? Check out more on Uncle Nearest in the short film highlighting his whiskey-making, “The Story of Nearest Green”. Or, add the Uncle Nearest brand to shelves by ordering some of their ultra-premium whiskeys at