jm + distilling   2

Distilled Identity
Gabriel recently bought a distillery in Barbados, where he says the majority of his team is of African descent. “The sugar industry is a painful past for them, but my understanding, from my team, is that they do see it as the past,” Gabriel explained. “There was great suffering, but their take is like, ‘We built this island.’ They are reclaiming it, and we are seeing that in efforts to preserve farming land and not let it all go to tourism.”

I rather liked this narrative, or at least the potential of it. Slavery was appalling across the board, but countries and cultures throughout the African Diaspora have managed their paths forward in ways that don’t mimic the American aftermath. A plurality of narratives was possible here, which was thrilling to me. I am often disappointed by the mainstream perception of one-note blackness. One could easily argue the root of colonization is far from removed in the Caribbean. But if I understood Gabriel, and if he accurately captured the sentiments of his Barbadian colleagues, plantation sugarcane offered career opportunities to some, and was perhaps not solely a distressing connection to a shared global history. We chewed on this thought, together, in silence.
history  distilling  rum  barbados  african-diaspora  slavery  american-history  booze  language  etymology 
4 weeks ago by jm
The White Lies of Craft Culture - Eater
Besides field laborers, [Southern US] planter and urban communities both depended on proficient carpenters, blacksmiths, gardeners, stable hands, seamstresses, and cooks; the America of the 1700s and 1800s was literally crafted by people of color.

Part of this hidden history includes the revelation that six slaves were critical to the operation of George Washington’s distillery, and that the eponymous Jack Daniel learned to make whiskey from an enslaved black man named Nathan “Nearest” Green. As Clay Risen reported for the New York Times last year, contrary to the predominant narrative that views whiskey as an ever “lily-white affair,” black men were the minds and hands behind American whiskey production. “In the same way that white cookbook authors often appropriated recipes from their black cooks, white distillery owners took credit for the whiskey,” he writes. Described as “the best whiskey maker that I know of” by his master, Dan Call, Green taught young Jack Daniel how to run a whiskey still. When Daniel later opened his own distillery, he hired two of Green’s sons.

The popular image of moonshine is a product of the white cultural monopoly on all things ‘country’
Over time, that legacy was forgotten, creating a gap in knowledge about American distilling traditions — while English, German, Scottish, and Irish influences exist, that combination alone cannot explain the entirely of American distilling. As bourbon historian Michael Veach suggests, slave culture pieces together an otherwise puzzling intellectual history.
history  craft-beer  craft-culture  food  drink  whiskey  distilling  black-history  jack-daniels  nathan-nearest-green 
4 weeks ago by jm

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