50th anniversary edition for definitive biography of whiskey legend Jack Daniel gets new cover, opening

Staff Reports • Updated Jan 28, 2018 at 6:00 PM

LYNCHBURG – As global interest in the American whiskey industry reaches new heights, what has long been considered the definitive biography of whiskey legend Jack Daniel will be republished.

“Jack Daniel’s Legacy” was first published by Ben A. Green in 1967 as a mostly oral history of conversations with those who were around Jack Daniel. It’s generally referred to as the most accurate account on record about Daniel, and it was cited by many other books throughout the years.

Fawn Weaver, a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author who became captivated by Jack Daniel’s story, has added new insights from her research at the beginning of the book.

“From the moment I began reading this book, I fell in love,” Weaver said. “I fell in love with the author’s writing style, the stories he shared and the main characters in his book. At the time of original publication, Green had to rely mostly on oral history. I’ve had the opportunity and the resources to dig even deeper to uncover more about the history behind the world’s most famous whiskey brand.”

Weaver became interested in Daniel through learning about the untold story of Nathan “Nearest” Green – no relation to Ben A. Green – whose story was first shared in this book. Nearest was a former slave who became the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States. He was the master distiller for the whiskey operations for Dan Call in the mid-1800s in Lynchburg, Tenn., where a young Jack Daniel got his training in the business. Following slavery, and the founding of Jack Daniel Distillery, Green became the first master distiller for Jack Daniel’s whiskey operation, making him the first African-American master distiller on record in the United States.

“Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green’s contribution to the story of Jack Daniel is finally being fully acknowledged,” Weaver said. “Daniel and Green developed an extraordinary relationship during a time of deep racial tension at the height of the Civil War era that should be looked upon as we look to solutions for the current racial tension we are experiencing in America.”

Weaver worked with author Ben A. Green’s heirs to republish the book, which was published on Ben A. Green, Fawn Weaver and Jack Daniel’s shared birthday, September 5th. The book is available for purchase now, and all proceeds will go to the Nearest Green Foundation to assist in building the Nearest Green Memorial Park in Lynchburg and to help underwrite the Nearest Green Legacy Scholarships that have been awarded to seven of his descendants with more than double that expected to be awarded in 2018.

Earlier this year, Weaver launched the Nearest Green Foundation to honor Nearest Green’s contributions to the whiskey industry. Weaver and her husband purchased the old 313-acre Call farm, where Jack Daniel Distillery was located until 1881, and where Green taught Daniel the craft of making fine Tennessee whiskey before becoming the master distiller for Jack Daniel’s. The two-room dogtrot cabin where Green lived during the Civil War and the Greek Revival home where Call and Daniel once lived are being restored and will be open to the public beginning in 2018. Weaver is taking on a number of projects in the Lynchburg area to honor the relationship, and she’s working on her own book scheduled for completion later this year.

Weaver has interviewed more than 100 people in and around Lynchburg, including Green’s 107-year-old granddaughter. Also interviewed were descendants of Jack Daniel, dozens of local historians and other Green family members. More than 20 archivists, conservators and researchers have assisted her in uncovering the story that now includes more than 2,500 hours of collective research.

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