Thursday, September 29, 2016

Washington's Rye: How Did George Washington Make Whiskey?

Every student of history knows at least a brief sketch of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, but most people don’t realize that Alexander Hamilton’s excise tax on distilled spirits hit George Washington in the wallet as well, albeit years after the rebellion. He owned the largest distillery in Northern Virginia from 1797-1799 and shipped hundreds of gallons of moonshine to Alexandria during the fall as excess grains were converted to the “water of life.”

Thankfully you can still get your hands on a gallon of Washington’s Rye. Every fall, Mount Vernon produces bottles of the clear rot gut, along with apple brandy and other spirits. You have to pick the liquor up in person, but for those of you who live within driving distance of Washington’s estate, it might be worth a trip to the Potomac River highlands.

Washington was a Virginian first and foremost, a fact often lost in our “national” histories. Having a glass of rye produced on his land adds a nice touch to any Southern gathering if for no other reason than a conversation starter.