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Uncle Nearest’s Fawn Weaver corrects the record on Reckon podcast

In the center of this historical image from the early days at Jack Daniel’s Distillery you can see George Green, the son of Nearest Green, sitting to the left of Jasper Newton Daniel. {Historical Image)

For those who love intellectual deep dives on southern culture, Reckon Radio’s become a staple podcast. Produced by the AL.com and hosted by Amy Yurkanin and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist John Archibald, the podcast launched in 2018, with a closer look at the Greek life at the University of Alabama. The inaugural podcasts explored “The Machine” – the secret society that’s been described as the most powerful fraternity in America with tentacles into state houses, Washington D.C., and beyond.

This year, they launched The Reckon Interview and their last interview of season one was with Fawn Weaver, founder of Uncle Nearest Distillery.

It’s explores the legacy of Jack Daniel’s Distillery and the black slave who taught Jasper Newton Daniel to make whiskey. It corrects the common misconception that it was Dan Call who taught Daniel to make whiskey and instead discusses the legacy of Nathan ” Nearest” Green.

Weaver explains the genesis of Green, dating back to his birth in Maryland to his arrival in Lynchburg.

“How he got here?” Fawn explains. “I would assume it was through the slave trade that brought a lot of those slaves in from the East and then down into the South. But who brought him here … how he got here? I have no idea.”

By 1856, Green can be found as the distiller on the Dan Call Farm where he meet the young Jasper Newton Daniel. Legend holds that when the two met, Call introduced Green by stating, “This is Uncle Nearest. He’s the best whiskey maker I know of.”

At the time there were 16 other whiskey distilleries in Moore County and Lincoln County within a four mile radius, according to Weaver.

She goes on to discuss the special nature of the Lincoln County Process and it’s heritage in the Tennessee whiskey making legacy. She also traces part of it … the charcoal mellowing process … back to West Africa.

“In West Africa, the way they purify their food and filter their water is through charcoal,” she explains to host John Hammontree. “To this day, the trees that are cut down in West Africa, the majority of them are utilized for charcoal.”

She also talks about her frustration with the press and social media when the story of Green first appeared in a Clay Risen article in the New York Times. Click here for that article.

“There were a lot in the press that had taken the story from what Clay wrote to all of the sudden Jack Daniel was a slave owner. He had stolen the recipe and gone to great lengths to hide Nearest Green. This is the story that was everywhere.”

She said a book, Jack Daniel’s Legacy by Ben A. Green, a former Tuscaloosa News and Shelyville Times Gazettte reporter, told her a very different story.

“In his own biography, Nearest Green and his family are mentioned more times that Jack’s family,” she says. “And I thought, social media and the press has this story all wrong.”

It’s her determination to correct that record that led not only to one of the world’s fastest growing distilleries but also a endearing friendship between the staff of Uncle Nearest and folks at Jack Daniel’s and Brown Forman.

You can hear the rest of the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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