"Whiskey Talking"

Chapter 1
Nathan Nearest Green

By Brett Matthew West

Does the name Nathan "Nearest" Green ring any crystal clear bells? Unless you are a historian probably not. If you are a fine connoisseur of the world's best selling, and popular, whiskey perhaps you have at least encountered this name somewhere along the line.

My state of Tennessee is well known for several reasons. We house the home of Country music, and the Grand Ole Opry, about a thirty minute or so drive down Briley Parkway from my front door. Graceland, and the Blues on Beale Street, are featured over in Memphis. And, about 70 miles southwest of Nashville, you will find the one street light town of Lynchburg in Moore County. Uniquely, the county is dry, though whiskey sampling is permitted in the villa's main attraction.

Did you realize the first African-American master distiller in the United States was a slave named Nathan "Nearest" Green? The Landis-Green firm owned Nathan Green and leant him to a farmer, Lutheran minister, general store owner, and whiskey still operator named Daniel Call.

Jasper Newton Daniel knew him well. C'mon, you know who he is. Nathan Green taught the young brewer the fine art of whiskey distilleration. Ever hear of Black Label? However, for about 150 years, Nathan Green's contributions went unrecognized, even by the Jack Daniel's Distillery itself.

Born in Maryland somewhere around 1820, official records do not indicate if Nathan Green was born a slave or later became one. Around the middle of the 1800s, Green began working for Daniel Call. Known as sugar maple charcoal filtering, Green's distilling skills gave his whiskey a distinct smoothness. Possibly derived from West African slaves who used charcoal for filtering their water, and to purify their food, Nathan Green's undertaking is called the Lincoln County Process.

Ten-year-old Jasper Daniel began working for Daniel Call. The youngster milked cows, slopped pigs, fetched water from the springhouse, and performed other required chores. Curious about the smoke he observed several times coming through the hollow on Call's 338-acre property, but forbidden to go there, Jasper Daniel watched men and mules come and go.

Eventually, Call took Jasper to the still and introduced him to the coal black Nathan Green. Call called him "Uncle Nearest," and stated "he is the best whiskey maker he knew of." Call instructed Nathan Green to teach Jasper how to make whiskey, and the procedure that seperates Tennessee whiskey from bourbon.

Jasper Daniel grew a little older and began selling the whiskey to Rebel soldiers, a skill he became adept at. The whiskey gained the reputation as the best in the area. At 15 years old, Jasper lost his father, making him an orphan. He made the whiskey business Nathan Green taught him his life's labor.

Jasper became Call's partner in the distillery, then purchased Call's share from him when Call's congregation made him choose between remaining a Lutheran minister or a whiskey maker. This made Jasper the sole owner. The business was referred to as Distillery Number 7, District Number 4. Later, it became Distillery Number 16, District Number 5.

At that point, Jasper Daniel hired Nathan Green, now freed from slavery after the conclusion of the Civil War, as his master distiller. Jasper also relocated the distillery to Cave Spring Hollow. This remains the only source of water for Jack Daniel's whiskey.

The 1967 book entitled Jack Daniel's Legacy, by Tennessee newspaperman and author Ben A. Green, was the first to reveal Nathan Green as the huge factor he was in teaching distilling to Jack Daniel.

The Tennessee Historical Quarterly-Spring 1972 was the first to list Nathan Green as the original master distiller for Jack Daniel's.

Seven generations of Nathan Green's descendants have worked at the Jack Daniel's Distillery.

In 2016, Brown-Forman, who has owned Jack Daniel's Distillery since 1956, changed its tours of the facility to honor Nathan Green's legacy with the company. More than 10,000 documents exist to verify Green's importance to Jack Daniels. He is also listed on the company's website as its firt master distiller.

In 2016, Fawn Weaver set out to research Nathan Green's story. In 2019, she created the Uncle Nearest Distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee and hired Nathan Green's descendant Victoria Eady-Butler as her master distiller. According to the International Wines and Spirits Record (IWSR), the leading supplier of data and market intelligence on the global alcoholic drinks market, this brand is becoming the fastest selling blend of whiskey in the United States. So, Nathan Green's legacy continues to this day.

Thus begins my novella on Jack Daniel's whiskey. Enjoy!


Author Notes Days of Wine and Roses, by avmurray, selected to complement my posting.

In no way, shape, form, or fashion is this novella intended to promote alcoholic consumption.

It is my staunch belief if someone has an addiction to alcohol there are a myriad of organizations available to assist them.

Chapter 2
Cottage Industry

By Brett Matthew West

(Chapter One of this novella, entitled Nathan Nearest Green, begins the story of Jack Daniels and explains how a slave taught him how to distill the world's most famous whiskey when he was still a young boy.)


Many Modern Day connoisseurs regard Jack Daniels as the singlemost important blend of whiskey in the world, and the one that opened doors for every brand of popular bourbon as well.

Forty-two distilleries can be explored on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Visitors to these locations experience a firsthand examination of the art of crafting bourbon, Kentucky's Signature Spirit. There are more distilleries in the state of Kentucky than there are in Tennessee, which has thirty-eight distilleries located along its Tennessee Whiskey Trail.

Highly coveted, almost to the point of possessing a cult following, Pappy Van Winkle remains Kentucky's most sought after bourbon. A single bottle of this liquor can sell for astronomical prices, up to $3,000 each. Rare, and only offered in limited supplies, Pappy Van Winkle stays in high demand the year around.

Distilled, and bottled, at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfurt, Kentucky, Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve is thought to be one of the finest bourbons on the globe, as well as one of the planet's most expensive.

Brewed 15, 20, or 23 years in oak barrels, Pappy Van Winkle uses corn, wheat, and barley malt to brew its bourbon. Twenty year old Pappy Van Winkle contains a very fruity flavor. Still, Tennessee makes the American whiskey most whisky drinkers in the United States consume.

Created in 1866 in Lynchburg, before Prohibition, the charcoal-mellowed Jack Daniel's was merely considered a well-regarded regional blend made with iron-free cave spring water. Today, there are some ten million cases of Jack Daniel's sold annually in 170 countries world-wide.

In 2009, when doing so became legal, Jack Daniel's helped launch a major increase in the number of distilleries in Tennessee. In fact, new distilleries seem to appear online monthly. Tennessee state law mandates whiskey brewed in Tennessee must be filtered through charcoal.

Jack Daniel's Historian Nelson Eddy stated, "At the end of the 1800s there were 700 distilleries in the state of Tennessee."

Both Tennessee and Kentucky possessed the critical elements for whiskey including abundant corn (bourbon's main ingredient), limestone for leaching the required minerals into the water, cold winters, and hot summers that pushed aging whiskey in and out of their barrels' wooden staves.

Whiskey making in Tennessee and Kentucky began as a cottage industry. Farmers discovered placing their corn in a bottle to be a good way to preserve the corn. Aged in a barrel, the corn became much more valuable to the farmers.

Many of the earliest distillers of Tennessee and Kentucky were slaves. Auction records showed Black Caribbean distillers often sold for more dinero than the average slave fetched on the market.

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Typically made from a mix of fermented, or malted grains, corn being one of them, whiskey is generally aged in charred white oak wooden casks. Stills for brewing whiskey are usually made from copper because it removes sulfer-based compounds from the alcohol that would cause the finished product to be unplesant to consume

The simplest apparatus used to distill whiskey is called a "pot still". It contains a single heated chamber and a vessel to collect the purified alcohol. Whiskey only ages in a cask. Its age is the time between distillation and bottling. While whiskey ages it undergoes the six processes of extraction, oxidation, evaporation, filtration, concentration, and coloration.

During the American Revolution, George Washington operated a sizable distillery at Mount Vernon. That timeframe also saw whiskey used as a form of currency. In 1791, taxing whiskey caused the Whiskey Rebellion.

Bourbon is predominantly brewed from corn. 51% of its mash is required to be that item. Bourbon can fill its other 49% with rye, wheat, barley, and various other grains. Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels starting at no more than 125% proof, and bottled at a minimum of 80% proof.

Many times bourbon is diluted with water by producers to make the liquor more palatable straight out of the bottle. Bourbon can be drunk almost any way including without ice, on the rocks, poured into cocktails, or even with pickle brine chasers if one so desires.

Bourbon is normally brewed in column stills. These may also be called patent stills, continuous stills, or Coffey stills. Known as an analyzer, the first column of this still has steam rising, and wash descending, through several levels. Known as a rectifier, the second column transports the alcohol away from the wash, and circulates it, until it condenses to the required strength.


Author Notes Days of Wine and Roses, by avmurray, selected to complement my novella.

In no way, shape, form or fashion is this novella intended to promote alcohol consumption.

It is my staunch belief if someone has an addiction to alcohol there are a myriad of organizations available to assist them.

Chapter 3
Prohibited Imbibing

By Brett Matthew West

Chapter One of this novella, entitled Nathan Nearest Green, depicts how a slave taught the young Jack Daniel how to distill whiskey.

Chapter Two, entitled Cottage Industry, compares Tennessee whiskey and Kentucky bourbon.


In 1930, Prohibition, the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol. Bootlegging, speakeasies, gang violence, and organized crime all thrived under the Cullen-Harrison Act during the thirteen years, or so, this law was in effect.

A long time before Prohibition reared its ugly head the state of Tennessee had labored the better portion of a century to eliminate John Barleycorn. That name is nothing more than a fancified personification of liquor, particularly those made from barley and malt.

The American Temperance Society formed in Boston, Massachusetts on February 13, 1826. This movement's members vowed to abstain from drinking distilled alcohol. Wine and beer were not included in this promise.

The organization became the first United States social movement to mobilize a massive national effort to reform the consumption of alcohol. Tennessee chapters of the American Temperance Society sprang up in Kingsport and Nashville.

Soon thereafter, in 1909 to be exact, liquor sales were banned within four miles of schools. Additionally, the manufacturing of "intoxicating beverages," as they became popularly known, was outlawed state-wide. However, Nashville and Memphis largely ignored these new ordinances.

Becoming law on December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment of the Constitution ended the fiasco of Prohibition. This Amendment is the only one to repeal a prior one, as well as the only one ratified by state ratifying conventions.

The 21st Amendment stated, "The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery of, or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited."

Clay Risen, a New York Times reporter and editor, as well as the author of "American Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Original Spirit," stated, "At the end of Prohibition, Kentucky opened itself up to an industry that was consolidated and just needed a home."

In his book, Risen implied US bourbon drinkers are turning to rye as their drink of choice because of rye's spicy and herbaceous flavor.

Further elaborating, Risen explained, "Tennessee could have gone the way of Pennsylvania or Maryland, where the distilling industry completely disappeared. It's in some ways a testament to Jack Daniel's that they kept the lights on for the category. Otherwise, we might not be talking about it [Tennessee whiskey] today."

Jack Daniel's historian Nelson Eddy explained Tennessee's slowness to embrace distilling and the sale of alcohol after Prohibition ended. "Even in 1938, when Jack Daniel's starts putting whiskey up in barrel houses, it can't be sold in the state. Nashville wasn't liquor by the drink until 1967."

Launched in Lincoln County in 1997, Prichard's Distillery became the first new Tennessee distillery to open in the state since Prohibition ended. Lincoln County, found in the south central region of Tennessee, not far from the Jack Daniel's Distillery, was one of only three counties in Tennessee that permitted the production of liquor at that time.

Pritchard's Distillery originally opened in the Kelso, Tennessee schoolhouse in Lincoln County. Their top brand of bourbon is named "Double Barrel." This bourbon is barreled at 125% proof and taken down to 95% proof. At that point, it is re-barreled in new charred oak barrels. Pritchard's is the only distillery known to use this process for distillation to create their bourbon.

By 2009, when the Tennessee legislature opened most of the state to distilling, craft brewers operated throughout the Volunteer State.

Alex Castle is the first female Master Distiller for the Old Dominick Distillery, and a member of the Tennessee Distillers Guild. The Guild promotes and advocates for the distilling industry in Tennessee. She stated her thoughts on the matter when she asked, "I think a lot of people definitely felt it was about parity. If you're able to brew in these counties, why can't you distill in these counties?"

Originally operated in 1866, and restarted in 2017, Old Dominick Distillery is the first whiskey distillery in downtown Memphis since before Prohibition began. Located in Hurling Station, and named after an old train depot, Old Dominick's whiskey is bottled at 100% proof.

Clay Risen elaborated, "It's really been in the last five or six years that the distillers that emerged as the new leaders are putting their weight behind Tennessee whiskey."

New leaders in Tennessee distillation include Uncle Nearest and Nelson's Green Briar, the Sazerac Company , George T. Stagg, and Buffalo Trace. The Sazerac Company is currently distilling a yet-to-be-named whiskey that is aging in barrels and not expected to be released for another year and a half, perhaps longer.

The Kentucky whiskey destiller, who brews Pappy Van Winkle, as talked about in Chapter Two of this novella, is currently constructing a distillery in Murfreesboro, a city midway between Nashville and Lynchburg. This is, of course, the home of Jack Daniel's.

Alex Castle may have summed the current condition of distillation in Tennessee up well when she commented, "I think Tennessee whiskey is still evolving. It's still showing what its identity really is."


Author Notes Days of Wine and Roses, by avmurray, selected to complement my novella.

In no way, shape, form, or fashion is this novella intended to promote alcohol consumption.

It is my staunch belief if someone has an addiction there are a myriad of organizations available to assist them.

Chapter 4
Lincoln County Process

By Brett Matthew West

With about 12.9 million cases sold annually, Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 remains the best-selling whiskey in the world. The brew has been Jack Daniel's flagship offering since the distillery was founded in 1866. However, there is much more to the whiskey manufacturer's famous portfolio than this simple blend.

Old No. 7 possesses a name that originally was assigned to the Jack Daniel's Distillery for government regulation. Old No. 7 was first blended at 90 proof. Since 1987 Old No. 7 now contains 86 proof. The reason being lower excise taxes, and production costs, associated with creating the popular whiskey.

When Jack Daniel's made this change many critics thought the company would receive serious backlash for doing so. But, as illustrated in 2005 by the Advertising Age magazine, there was very little thrown the company's way.

Advertising Age stated, "Virtually no one noticed the change."

They further confirmed sales of Old No. 7 had increased since Jack Daniel's decreased the whiskey's proof to 86.

Distilled in copper stills, the Jack Daniel's mash is 80% corn, 12% rye, and 8% malted barley. The product is filtered through ten-foot tall stacks of sugar maple charcoal, which the distillery refers to as the Lincoln County Process. This technique removes impurities from the alcohol as well as the corn taste.

Under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Tennessee whiskey is mandated to be "a straight bourbon whiskey." Jack Daniel's filtering procedure provides the distinct aspect of grinding its charcoal prior to using it for filtration. That completed, the whiskey is stored in new, handcrafted, oak barrels to give the whiskey its color and the majority of its flavor.

Tennessee has declared for a whiskey to be labeled as "Tennessee whiskey" it must not only be manufactured in the state, but the whiskey must meet quality and production standards. These are the same ones Jack Daniel's is famous for. Some other distilleries in Tennessee do not like this prerequisite.

Based in Kelso, Tennessee, the Benjamin Pritchard Distillery produces its whiskey in pot stills instead of column stills. This difference between distilling programs, and the previous requirements for bourbon that were in effect before the Tennessee law was passed, are the only two exceptions to the policy.

While Jack Daniel's whiskey can not be purchased in the dry county of Moore, where it is manufactured, the distillery can sell one commemorative product and not violate this county law. Therefore, the Jack Daniel's Distillery frequently offers Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, Old No. 7, and seasonal blends, in commemorative decanters, of course. These can be purchased in its White Rabbitt Bottle Shop.

-Gentleman Jack is charcoal filtered twice
-Jack Daniel's Single Barrel is brewed in only one, not two, barrels
-Tennessee Honey is blended with less than 20% whiskey
-Tennessee Fire is cinnamon-flavored liquor blended with less than 20% whiskey

The Jack Daniel's Distillery is surrounded by, as well as contained in, Stillhouse Hollow, which is also known as Jack Daniel's Hollow. Flowing from a cave at the base of a limestone cliff, iron from the spring water used to distill Jack Daniel's whiskey is removed by the limestone. The spring then feeds into the East Fork Mulberry Creek, which is a portion of the Elk River watershed.

A major tourist attraction, that draws an excess of a quarter million visitors each year, the Jack Daniel's Distillery maintains many of its barrels of whiskey on hilltops that adorn its property. These are visible throughout the small town of Lynchburg.

The Jack Daniel's Visitors Center offers memorabilia and a popular gift shop. There are paid tours of the distillery available several times daily. A premium sampling tour is also provided.

Some common cocktails Old No. 7 is often mixed with include:

-Lynchburg Lemonade. (a citrus-flavored soda or juice, sour mix, lemon-lime, triple sec, and Old No. 7)
-Three Wise Men (a combination of three whiskeys poured together with no other ingredients)

Back in my drinking days, of which I can no longer imbibe because of medication I am on to help combat my cancer, one day I concocted my own soon-to-become all-time preferred alcoholic beverage. I poured a shot of Old No. 7 right smack dab in the middle of a Pina Colada. The taste was both SWEET and SOUR!!!

Author Notes Disaronno, by cleo85, selected to complement my post.

In no way, shape, form, or fashion is this novella intended to promote alcoholic consumption.

It is my staunch belief if someone has an addiction to alcohol there are a myriad of organizations available to assist them.

One of thousands of stories, poems and books available online at

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