Thursday, July 15, 2010

Washington's Silent Stills.

On July 1 the public got its first chance to buy whiskey made at George Washington’s Mount Vernon distillery. The first, that is, since it burned down in 1814.

Mount Vernon completed the reconstruction of George Washington’s distillery in 2007. For years Mount Vernon officials promised that when it was completed, the distillery would go into production making whiskey, brandy, and other spirits the same way it did in 1797. They planned to sell the liquor in the gift shop.

In a paper published in 2006, Mount Vernon’s Director of Archaeology wrote, “the structure will open (in) April 2007 as a fully operating distillery.”

Necessary licenses for both production and retail sales were obtained from the Federal and Virginia governments. Virginia even passed a new law legalizing public spirits tastings.

But Washington’s distillery is not “fully operating.” It made about 100 gallons of 110° proof rye whiskey over a two-week period in February of 2009 and is planning to make a similar run of peach brandy this October.

In 1799, Washington produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey and unknown quantities of brandy and rum.

The complete story is in the new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, Volume 13, Number 1.

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