For its 150th anniversary, famous whiskey brand Jack Daniel's is revising its history.
Previously, the official history was that Jack Daniel learned the recipe that bears his name from a white moonshiner named Dan Call. Now, the company reveals, young Jack actually learned it from a man named Nearis Green, who was one of Call's slaves.
Nelson Eddy, the distillery’s in-house historian, told The New York Times: “It's taken something like the anniversary for us to start to talk about ourselves.”
According to Phil Epps, the global brand director at Brown-Forman, the parent company of Jack Daniel’s, the true history was discovered while doing research for the anniversary. “As we dug into it, we realized it was something that we could be proud of,” he said.
However, the true story was well known to local historians, notes the Daily Mail.
Peter Krass, author of a book on Jack Daniel, sees it as a marketing ploy, The New York Times reports.
“When you look at the history of Jack Daniel’s, it’s gotten glossier over the years. In the 1980s, they aimed at yuppies. I could see them taking it to the next level, to millennials, who dig social justice issues.”
Perhaps a similar motivation lies behind the forthcoming exhibit on George Washington and slavery, at the Mount Vernon home of the first president. The exhibit will document how Washington used six slaves to run his rye whiskey distillery, which was one of the nation’s biggest.
In fact, slaves made up the majority of the distilling industry at the time, notes the Daily Mail.
Not surprisingly, however, the distillery owners took full credit for themselves, and the contribution of the slaves was largely erased from history.