Reason.tv: The Spirit of Mount Vernon-The Return of George Washington's Whiskey

Many know George Washington as a general and statesman, but few think of America's first president as a preeminent entrepreneur, operating the most successful whiskey distillery in the late 18th century. At its height, Washington's distillery produced over 11,000 gallons of liquor a year, supplying the surrounding area and becoming one of his most lucrative business ventures.

At Washington's former plantation, Mount Vernon , a group of historic interpreters are looking to bring this story to a wider audience. Thanks to a fully functioning replica of Washington's distillery (and special dispensation from the Virginia General Assembly), George Washington's rye whiskey is once again being made and sold to the public.

In November, Reason.tv followed the entire process as Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller and former Vice President of Operations for Maker's Mark, and Steve Bashore, Mount Vernon Distillery Manager, oversaw a two week production run while adhering as strictly as possible to 18th century means and methods. The result is an 80-proof reminder of the nation's first president and the entrepreneurial ideals of colonial America.

Shot, edited and produced by Meredith Bragg. Music by www.audionautix.com. Approx. 6 minutes.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new content is posted.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Bf||

    Let's not forget Washington's slaves. Did they work in the distillery?

  • Gregory Smith||

    Right, you must be one of those "I hate white people" kind of guys. Of course, there wouldn't have been a slave trade if it wasn't for BLACKS who went into the jungle and captured other blacks. It takes two to tango, you know.

  • omg||

    I made the mistake of clicking on your link/blog/bullshit fountain.

    Despite having the word "libertarian" in the title, the very first sentence I read unironically praises Joe Arpaio.

    Why?

  • Gregory Smith||

    I didn't realize "libertarians" like you were against law and order. May I break into your house and steal all our property? May I get free healthcare in the emergency room at your expense? Do you mind identity theft?

    Libertarian does not equal anarchist.

  • Realist||

    "Libertarian does not equal anarchist."
    Some here think so.

  • Yup||

    The moron wing.

  • ||

    I didn't realize "libertarians" like you were against law and order.

    I didn't realize Joe Arpaio was FOR law and order.

    Also, you know who else liked law and order?

  • omg||

    I didn't realize "libertarians" like you were against law and order.

    If "law and order" means using physical violence to intimidate nonviolent individuals, and human rights abuse, and a complete disregard for speech, press, and privacy rights you can count me out of it.

    May I break into your house and steal all our property?

    Sheriff Arpaio thinks he should be able to do that. Actually, he does do that. And if you disagree with him he will do it to you.

    May I get free healthcare in the emergency room at your expense?

    Why not just make everyone pay for emergency room care instead of stopping and searching everyone on a highway/raiding anyone who disagrees with you?

    Do you mind identity theft?

    Sheriff Joe's actions won't help that at all. And even if they did, they aren't worth giving up the right to privacy and all the other rights Arpaio looks on with disgust.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Sheriff Arpaio is a public figure, he has many enemies lying about him, I do not believe that he has committed any human rights abuses.

    I also don't think it's wrong with fighting illegal immigration. People have been killed by illegal aliens, so fighting against it has the potential of preventing crimes.

    Also, in "sanctuary" cities the police don't call the INS when they catch an illegal alien, this leads to the same criminal committing multiple offenses.

    Frankly, I'm happy with Arizona, I hear illegal aliens are unhappy there and are starting to leave to other states. I also hear that Utah plans to legalize illegal aliens (wonder if Obama will complain about them doing the fed's job), so perhaps the illegals can go there.

  • omg||

    Sheriff Arpaio is a public figure, he has many enemies lying about him, I do not believe that he has committed any human rights abuses.

    Well I suppose if you take the "ostrich" approach and just ignore the volumes of evidence implicating the guy as a brutal thug, you could say that. Hey, who cares if he abuses enough brown people?

    Or you could read something every once in a while:

    http://www.ranker.com/list/she.....calistylie

  • Gregory Smith||

    If you never read townhall.com, anncoulter.com, glennbeck.com, foxnews.com, then why should I read ranker.com?

    Besides, the so-called "evidence" comes from progressive website, that's like asking me to trust in Media Matters.

  • omg||

    If you never read townhall.com, anncoulter.com, glennbeck.com, foxnews.com, then why should I read ranker.com?

    What? What are you talking about? How does that have any bearing on what is said?

    Besides, the so-called "evidence" comes from progressive website, that's like asking me to trust in Media Matters.

    Who cares where it comes from, as long as the information is accurate? Some of what is described there Arpaio brags about. You have presented no evidence that any of it is false, and much of what has presented has come up in lawsuits against him (like his guards murdering a restrained inmate).

  • cynical||

    False flag operation?

  • Slave Owner||

    "Of course, there wouldn't have been a slave trade if it wasn't for BLACKS who went into the jungle and captured other blacks."

    Goddamn darkies making me own slaves.

    And that black bitch over there wants it bad. She'll fight me but you know she wants a good fucking.

    Damn if it weren't for them godamn niggers I'd be a good man, faithful to my wife and kind to people.

    What a piece of fucking work you are.

    I suppose if Rudy Giulliani is a libertarian Joe Arpaio is.

    "We must destroy the Bill of Rights to save it."

  • ||

    Heminged on the very first post, Bravo!

  • ||

    too bad i swore off whiskey

  • Pip||

    Back to drink urine then?

  • Tim||

    George Louko?

  • ||

    "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a bitchin' batch of brew..."

  • ||

    First in war, first in peace, and first in the flasks of his countrymen...

  • ||

    A recent sat-TV special on whiskey (which I highly recommend; as usual, I can't recall the channel) touched on this. As I recall, GW went into the biz after many of his competitors were wiped out in the Whiskey Rebellion.

    And I can't think of anything better to rebel over than whiskey. As British subjects, the colonists rebelled over tea. After only a few years as Americans, they were rebelling over whiskey. That's what I call progress.

  • Kristen||

    Yeah, that ^^

  • creech||

    GW probably can't be accused of wiping out the whiskey rebellers in order to get into the business. Hamilton got the excise tax passed in 1791 and the rebellion came to a head in 1794 when GW had to call out the militia (and as Commander in Chief was apparently ready to lead the invasion of western Penna.!) The rebellion collapsed. It wasn't until 1797 that Washington's gristmill operator suggested he get into the distilling business. Jefferson repealed the excise tax when he became president. thus endeth the history lesson.

  • Virginia||

    Hamilton's a big government duel-loser killed by a man named Aaron.

  • Whiskey Drinker ||

    You say something to me?

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    I did not know this.

    This makes the Rothbardian "he wasn't really all that cool" view of GW seem a little truer, especially when considered in conjunction with the whole Whiskey Rebellion thing as pointed out by RC.

  • Tim||

    "George Washington's rye whiskey"

    "Ronald Reagan's rye whiskey"

    "George Bush's rye whiskey"

    "Bill Clintons date rape rye whiskey"

    "George Bush 43's rye whiskey"

    "Barrack Obama's organic celery juice"

  • ||

    "Joe Wilson's 'You rye!' whiskey"

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    Will that be distilled by the Chinese?

  • ||

    Well prayed.

  • ||

    Also, as much as I love to rip on Obama, the dude actually served homebrewed beer at the White House Super Bowl party, so booze is one (maybe the only?) area where he actually gets a passing grade.

  • ||

    He only did that after being insulted for his beer choice at the Beer Summit.

  • Tim||

    Did he actually brew it or did he order some peon to do it and then take credit?

  • ||

    It was brewed by "an unnamed White House chef." He also served beer from Hinterland in Green Bay and (predictably) Yuengling.

  • Tim||

    What? No Carling Black Label?

  • Tim||

    Even then, the commerce clause forced him to buy shit across state lines.

  • Pip||

    I was at the party and they fined me for not drinking.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Interesting! They made me bring a case, then give it to somebody else.

  • ||

    Briess malt??? I highly doubt Washington ordered his malt from Wisconsin. Can't we get a little historical accuracy here?!

  • ||

    I always thought he was first pres. to smoke pot ,

  • Professional Critic||

    Martha Washington was a hip, hip lady.

  • Jason S. ||

  • pistoffnick||

    Its time to allow home distillers the same legitimacy as home brewers.

  • ||

    I agree 100%. Not only would it be fun to try my hand at distilling, but I believe it would also lead to a craft distilling renaissance here in the U.S. much in the same way that the first homebrewing boom in the late '80s gave rise to the first explosion of microbreweries in the early '90s.

  • ||

    Hell, Granpa's been doing "micro-distilling" down in the holler fer years! (Don't tell the revenooers...)

  • B.P.||

    Micro (craft) distilling is really on the rise right now. It hasn't reached the home yet but we're trying...

    http://blogs.courier-journal.c.....o-go-home/

  • ||

    We've got a couple craft distillers that popped up recently around the Chicagoland area (Koval and North Shore). However, I still think that you'd see even more--and more importantly, see more innovation--if home distilling were legal. Right now I see far more looking backward (to historical spirits) than looking forward.

  • ||

    I would think craft distilling would have a brutal business plan, simply because you start spending on day one, but can't sell any product for years.

  • ||

    That's only true of traditional whiskeys and bourbons. I think that's one of the reasons you're seeing more craft distilleries go with white (unaged) whiskeys as well as other non-aged spirits like vodka, gin and rum. I know Koval also does a lot of liqueurs; it's really just the brown liquors that require significant aging, I believe.

  • B.P.||

    You are correct sir. The stuff that has a color to it requires aging. The folks that are doing unaged whiskey (white dog) are, generally speaking, doing it to capitalize their businesses while the other stuff ages. Some claim to like the white dog, though.

  • ||

    I'm thinking that without Scotch-Irish immigrants we'd have become wine-drinking Frenchies or something.

  • The Truth||

    So, do they re-create the slavery aspect too?

  • ||

    Why? Looking for a job?

  • An Anonymous Coward||

    Seriously, WTF? What does it take to make you people STFU about this? Does every mention of a slave-owning historical figure have to include a disclaimer "he owned slaves and therefore was a bad man despite what else he may have done"? Does every historical re-creation from that period have to have an obligatory mebntion of slavery or inclusion of slave-reenactors?

    Why can't it ever simply be about the technology.

  • ||

    Actually, IIANM, Mt Vernon guides make quite a deal out of GW's slave owning. It's called honestly confronting the past.

    Of course, "The Truth", is just an asshole.

  • An Anonymous Coward||

    Oh, *&^%$#@! didn't realize it was one of the new trolls. Sorry to waste everyone's time.

  • cynical||

    No, and that's why China will ultimately crush us.

  • Jason S. ||

    Fascinating video. Good job, yo.

  • Beezard||

    I'm fairly sure it was slave power getting that 50 gallons a day out. Let's just hope it beat picking cotton.

    Any link to how to actual purchase this stuff? I'm guessing you have to visit Mount Vernon?

  • قبلة الوداع||

    ThaNk U

  • دليل||

    asfasgasdczx

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement