Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Washington's Whiskey

Founding father, command-in-chief and our first President George Washington was not only a great military and political leader of his time but also a farming and agricultural entrepreneur. In 1797 after retiring from his Presidency, Washington constructed a 2,250 square foot distillery, which was one of the largest in the new republic, housing five copper stills, a boiler and 50 mash tubs. At its peak, two years later, the distillery produced 11,000 gallons of corn and rye whiskey.

Shortly after Washington's death in late 1799, the complex was passed down to a relative. The distillery ceased operating in 1814 when the building burned. 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 March of 2007, it officially opened to the public and can be toured daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.. Visitors to the newly opened Washington Distillery & Gristmill can see costumed distillers demonstrating the distillation process.

The refurbished Distillery is also part of the American Whiskey Trail which includes 14 historic and working whiskey plants [and 2 rum facilities] from New York, Pennsinavia, Kentucky, Tennesee, and Virginia. For whiskey lovers, this could be the road trip of a life time.

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