Mount Vernon Fires-up the Stills to Make George Washington’s Whiskey at Newly Reconstructed Distillery
— Master Distillers Make First President’s Whiskey Recipe —
Mount Vernon, Va. — Master Distillers from leading liquor companies fired up the stills this week at the newly reconstructed George Washington’s Distillery to produce the founding father’s colonial-style whiskey for eventual sale at Mount Vernon, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.
This week, visitors to Mount Vernon had the rare opportunity to watch as Master Distillers stirred the mash, stoked the fires and distilled Washington’s Rye whiskey recipe as it trickled off copper pot stills in the only operating 18th-century style distillery in North America.
Master Distillers participating in the distilling event this week are: Jimmy Russell of Wild Turkey; Joe Dangler of Virginia Gentleman; Ken Pierce of Very Old Barton; Gerry Webb of I.W. Harper and Dave Pickerell of Maker’s Mark.
“Visitors to the distillery are clearly fascinated by experiencing how whiskey was made in George Washington’s day. Thanks to the efforts of the master distillers this week, soon we will be able to let visitors extend their visit by purchasing commemorative bottles of rye whiskey, just like that produced at Washington’s distillery 200 years ago,” said Dennis Pogue, Chief Historian and Associate Director of Preservation at Mount Vernon.
The whiskey made at the distillery will be aged, bottled and sold at Mount Vernon gift shops under a special law passed by the Virginia legislature this year, allowing visitors to purchase samples of George Washington’s Straight Rye Whiskey and other special historic products.
Washington erected the 2,250 square foot distillery in 1797, making it among the largest whiskey distilleries in early America. In 1799, Washington produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey, worth the then-substantial sum of $7,500.
In 2000, Mount Vernon began the excavation and restoration of the $2.1 million distillery project with a grant from the distilled spirits industry. In the Fall, 2006 the distillery was dedicated by Britain’s Prince Andrew, and in March, 2007 it officially opened to the public.
The reconstructed distillery marks the only historic site in the country capable of showing the early American distilling process from seed to barrel. From April through October, visitors can see costumed distillers demonstrating the distillation process on a daily basis.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is a national trade association representing the leading brands of distilled spirits. Council member products include the full spectrum of quality distilled spirits such as Bourbon, Scotch and other whiskeys, vodka, gin, tequila, rum, brandy, cordials and liqueurs.
The distillers take special pride in their products as well as in their commitment to encourage responsible beverage alcohol consumption by adults who choose to drink. If you choose to drink, consume sensibly and responsibly. An important part of responsible drinking is understanding that a standard drink of regular beer (12 oz.), distilled spirits (1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits) and wine (5 oz.) each contains the same amount of alcohol.