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Upon hearing the name Jack Daniel, whiskey probably comes to mind.

But what about the name Nathan “Uncle Nearest” Green?

In 2016, the New York Times published a story about the distiller’s hidden ingredient—help from a slave. In the article, the brand officially acknowledged that an enslaved man, Nearest Green, had taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. Since then, scholars, researchers, and journalists have descended upon Lynchburg, Tennessee, hoping to learn more about a man who had appeared as a mere appendage in the story of the country’s most popular whiskey brand.

Stefanie Benjamin

Victoria Eady-Butler, Green’s descendant and a former employee of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, noted that there would “never have been Jack Daniel’s made without a Green on the property.”

Stefanie Benjamin, an assistant professor in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, told the story and legacy of Nearest Green for The Conversation. Read the full article on The Conversation’s website.

UT is a member of The Conversation—an independent source for news articles and informed analysis written by the academic community and edited by journalists for the general public. Through our partnership, we seek to provide a better understanding of the important work of our faculty.



Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375,