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Drop Everything: You Can Now Buy George Washington's Whiskey at Mount Vernon?


"... demand for their product has grown: The waiting list is more than 4,000 for this year’s batch."

Drop everything you’re doing: Rye whiskey based on George Washington's own recipe will soon go on sale at the first president's Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.

No, seriously, America’s first president had his own rye whiskey recipe.

“[T]he demand for this article (in these parts) is brisk,” he wrote to his nephew in 1799, one year after he went into the whiskey business.

Courtesy WTOP/Meera Pal.

The presidential home reconstructed Washington's distillery and will make more than 1,100 bottles of unaged whiskey available beginning April 4. The bottles sell for $95 each.

“People like having a tangible connection to the founding fathers, and any way they can connect that through food or drink, it’s an exciting element for them,” Mount Vernon spokesperson Melissa Wood told ABC News.

The whiskey, made from water nearby and locally grown grain, will cost $95 a bottle at the gift shop of Washington's main estate in Mount Vernon, Va. (Courtesy

“The team, led by former Maker’s Mark master distiller Dave Pickerell, has perfected the craft since they began distilling at the old mill twice a year beginning in 2009. (A $2.1 million grant from the distilled spirits industry helped fund the project),” the Washington Post notes.

“And the demand for their product has grown: The waiting list is more than 4,000 for this year’s batch,” it adds.

The WaPo report adds some colorful details:

Without electricity, the seven distillers — mostly historians and tour guides at theMount Vernon estate — chop their own wood to burn and heat the boilers, which are filled with water brought in by a water mill from the adjacent pond.

They also grind about 4,400 pounds of locally grown grain and manually churn vats of prefermented grains, known as mash. The process takes three weeks, and they do it twice a year. But guides at Mount Vernon are used to getting their hands dirty. Distillery manager Steve Bashore also runs the blacksmith shop there.

The Mount Vernon distillery was “one of the largest in America in Washington's day,” writes Yahoo! News’ Eric Pfeiffer.

In fact, as Pfeiffer notes, in 1799 when the distillery was at its peak, it produced 11,000 bottles of rye whiskey (we’re pretty sure that answers who was the greatest Founding Father).

And for those who demand only the real deal, you’re in luck: Mount Vernon says it has mastered both the fermentation process as it was done 250 years ago and the very particular recipe so that the rye is the most authentic version of Washington's grain recipe available.


However, a word of caution: Colonial-era Americans drank their rye unaged, so Washington’s whiskey might taste a little, uh, “different” (the website Death And Taxes says it tastes like “rotgut at best").

But you’ll just have to find out for yourself.

Washington's Distillery and Gristmill site opens at Mount Vernon for the season on Saturday.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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