Have a Sip of George Washington's Whiskey

By Aaron Gilchrist and Jim Iovino
|  Friday, Jun 25, 2010  |  Updated 3:09 PM EDT
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Have a Sip of George Washington's Whiskey

Mount Vernon

The top of a whiskey barrel at George Washington's Distillery.

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You knew George Washington was a soldier and a politician.  Maybe you even knew he was a farmer.  But, did you know he dabbled in the spirits, too?

Well, it was more than a dabble.  President Washington had one of the largest, most successful commercial distilling operations of his day.  And, on July 1, you can experience it for yourself.  George Washington's Distillery is hosting the first public sale and tasting of George Washington Rye Whiskey.  The distillery is producing the spirit using the recipe found in the first president's historic records.

With only 500 bottles available at a cost of $85 each, the rye whiskey made by the former master distiller of Maker's Mark quickly will become a collector's item.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a collector's item in the whiskey world," said Frank Coleman of the Distilled Spirits Council.

Coleman said the spirits are a white whiskey with a lot of fruit and sweetness, and it's just like what Washington would have sold in Old Town Alexandria.

"Basically it's 18th century distilling from field to glass," he said.

Coleman expects all of the bottles to sell on July 1, even at the $85 price tag.  He said that collectible whiskey is becoming very popular throughout the world, so owning the first run from George Washington's Distillery will be something special.

"It's a better investment than the S&P 500," Coleman joked.

The event will also feature the unveiling of a new piece of art that is an historic recreation of the site.  It will hang in the Distillery museum.  The event opens to the public at noon on July 1 just south of the main entrance to Mount Vernon.

George Washington began commercial distilling in 1797 and marketed to local farmers just a few miles away in Old Town.  According to the Distillery website, at peak production, the distillery produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey, yielding a profit of $7,500 in 1799.

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