Thanks to a bill sponsored by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, George Washington’s Rye Whiskey made at Mount Vernon’s reconstructed distillery will be the official state spirit of the Commonwealth of Virginia. George Washington was once the largest whiskey producer in America. Today Mount Vernon continues the tradition of producing whiskey as well as other small batch distilled spirits at its historic Distillery & Gristmill site. George Washington’s Rye Whiskey is available for purchase in-person only at the Shops at Mount Vernon and the Distillery & Gristmill site
Mount Vernon reconstructed Washington’s Distillery and opened the space in 2007 thanks in part to a $2.1 million grant from Distilled Spirits Council of the United States which allowed Mount Vernon to excavate, research, and reconstruct the site. Guests to the Distillery & Gristmill, located three miles from Washington’s Mansion, can tour the buildings April through October.
The recipe for Washington’s whiskey was discovered by researchers examining the distillery ledgers from 1798 and 1799. His whiskey consisted of 60 percent rye, 35 percent corn and 5 percent malted barley. The records also indicate that George Washington’s whiskey was distilled at least twice before being sent to market. During Washington’s lifetime whiskey was not aged and was sold in its original form.
Mount Vernon staff used Washington’s original recipe and traditional 18th-century methods in the production of the George Washington Rye Whiskey. This included grinding of all the grain in Washington’s reconstructed water-powered gristmill, fermenting in wooden mash tubs and distilling in copper pot stills heated by wood fires, making this rye whiskey as close to the original recipe as possible.
Proceeds from George Washington’s Rye Whiskey benefit the ongoing preservation and restoration of Mount Vernon and its educational programs. For more details, visit mountvernon.org/whiskey.