Few lovers of Tennessee whiskey likely know they owe their favorite drink to a slave named Nearest Green. Jack Daniel's only recently started publicly recognizing Green's vital role in its history, according to a New York Times story that went viral last year. But Green's time as—per a press release—"the best whiskey maker the world never knew" is coming to an end, if one best-selling author who learned about Green in that Times story has her way. The AP reports Green started distilling whiskey for his owner, Dan Call, in the mid-1800s in Lynchburg. It was on Call's farm that Green taught Jack Daniel how to make Tennessee whiskey. Call later gave his distillery to Daniel, and the Green and Daniel families continued to work together for decades.
This week, author Fawn Weaver launched the Nearest Green Foundation, the Tennessean reports. Among the projects planned by the foundation: a Tennessee whiskey museum, the Nearest Green Memorial Park, and a scholarship fund for Green's descendants. Weaver even bought the Call farm where Green and Daniel first started distilling whiskey together. She calls Green "the greatest teacher in the fine aft of distilling Tennessee whiskey." In addition to the activities of the foundation, Green is also finally getting his own whiskey. Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey launched in Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday. Weaver says Green's descendants told her "putting his name on a bottle, letting people know what he did, would be great." (Read more Jack Daniel's stories.)