In 1797, George Washington hired a Scottish plantation manager, James Anderson, who encouraged him to build a whiskey distillery next to his gristmill. This distillery was the largest in America and produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799. Five copper pot stills produced whiskey using Washington’s original mash bill (60% rye, 35% corn and 5% malted barley) which was then sold to neighboring farmers and in Alexandria. It was one of the most successful business enterprises at Mount Vernon.
When George Washington died in 1799, an inventory listed peach, apple and persimmon brandy, plain whiskey, and cinnamon whiskey stored in the Mansion’s basement. It is thought that all these items were made at Washington’s distillery and served to guests. Today, the two-story stone distillery is reconstructed and operates seasonally, mashing, fermenting and distilling grain as it was done in the eighteenth century.
Working from George Washington’s original recipe for rye whiskey, New York-based Hillrock Estate Distillery joined forces with Mount Vernon to expand production and distribution of the authentic 18th- century spirit by introducing “George Washington’s Rye Whiskey - Estate Edition” to New York. The special-edition un-aged whiskey will be available in retail locations and Hillrock’s Distillery. The suggested retail price is $70 for each 375 ml bottle.
Due to time restraints using 18th-century tools and techniques, as well as limited production months when the site is closed to the public, Mount Vernon is only able to produce a limited amount of whiskey on site each year. Hillrock’s production, though slightly more modern, parallels the distilling philosophies, tools, and techniques at George Washington’s Distillery. Each bottle produced at Hillrock contains an aliquot of whiskey directly from George Washington’s Distillery, perfectly blended for a unique taste of history.
“The General’s whiskey has captured many hearts since the first batch created for the public in 2009,” said Mount Vernon’s president, Curt Viebranz. “We partnered with Hillrock because we simply can’t make enough of our product at George Washington’s Distillery to meet the demand. This allows us to offer a taste of our historic whiskey to a wider audience without fundamentally changing the historic character and the fascinating story that makes the product so unique.”