Whisky Advocate

First public tasting and buying opportunity for George Washington Rye Whiskey at Mount Vernon Distillery

June 28th, 2010

Who was the master distiller behind the creation of this whiskey? None other than Dave Pickerell, past Distillery Manager at Maker’s Mark. (He’s now involved with WhistlePig Rye Whiskey, among other activities.) I’m also getting a review sample of the whiskey, so I’ll let you know my thoughts after I taste it.

Here are some other tidbits of information that Frank Coleman of the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) provided me. (Thanks Frank!)

*Prince Andrew and Gov. Bob McDonnell (then-AG) cut the ribbon on the distillery in the Fall of 06.

*DISCUS and WSWA funded the $2.1 million project in 2001.

*Ground was broken in Fall, 2001–five years of archaeology and then construction followed.

*The Distillery and its second floor museum about the history of distilling in America is The Gateway to the American Whiskey Trail

*DISCUS got a law passed in to allow the GW Distillery to be a special ABC store.

*In February, 2010 DISCUS passed a law to permit ABC stores to allow tastings of spirits–law is effective July 1. Hence, this is also the first public liquor store tasting since Prohibition.

*Demonstration distilling was done several times since 2002 on the lawn on an exact replica of the 18th cent Smithsonian Pot Still built by Vendome Copper of Louisville.

*Products from those events, including GW Rye and Martha’s Rum were only sold at private auctions.

*The first two bottles of the first demonstation GW Rye  sold to publisher Marvin Shanken for $100k–a record for an American whiskey. Bottle #1 is in the Distillery museum; bottle #2 is on display at Shanken Communications.

*A unique vatted American whiskey, aged and blended on the grounds at Mount Vernon, and made from a dozen great American whiskeys including Jack Daniels, Maker’s Maker, etc has been on sale in mini-bottle gift sets. The public will also be able to taste and purchase those sets on July 1.

Official Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                    CONTACT:    Frank Coleman, Distilled Spirits Council (202) 682-8840

June 25, 2010                                                                      Melissa Wood, Mount Vernon, (703) 799-5203

BUY GEORGE!: First Public Opportunity to Buy and Taste

George Washington Rye Whiskey at the Mount Vernon Distillery


MOUNT VERNON, VA. — On July 1, for the first time since the George Washington’s distillery burned to the ground in 1814, the public will be able buy Rye Whiskey made at the founding father’s distillery.  And, thanks to a new law in Virginia, they can taste it BEFORE they buy it at this special public tasting event.

The extremely limited edition whiskey (550 bottles) was produced in the reconstructed distillery in 2009 according to the General’s own recipe discovered by historians in the mansion’s extensive records. (Bottle shot at left, courtesy of Russ Flynt.)

Starting at noon, the public will be able to sample small amounts before purchasing one of the unique 375 ml bottles for $85. The proceeds will benefit Mount Vernon’s education programs.

What:             First public sale and tasting of the new George Washington Rye Whiskey produced at George Washington’s Distillery using the Founding Father’s own historic recipe

When:            July 1, 2010

                        11:30 a.m.  Media set-up

                        11:45 a.m.  Inaugural tasting with public officials followed by media tastings

                        12:00 p.m. – 1 p.m. Public tasting event (while supplies last)

                        12:30 p.m.  Unveiling of local artist’s painting in distillery’s upstairs museum   


Where:           George Washington’s Distillery

                             5514 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway (SR 235)

                            3 miles south of Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens main entrance.

Who:              Jim Rees, President, Historic Mount Vernon,  Public Officials

No Responses to “First public tasting and buying opportunity for George Washington Rye Whiskey at Mount Vernon Distillery”

  1. Rick Duff says:

    Anyone know if this stuff was actually fermented (in barrel) at Woodford Reserve? I remember some years back being at a Bourbon Academy there and Chris Morris pointed out some barrels that were barrel fermented with Washington’s original recipe getting ready to go to the Mount Vernon Distillery to be distilled.

  2. Joe Accuracy says:

    No, that was for an earlier very small batch that was produced on a replica still on the lawn outside the distillery and was never sold to the public. That batch was probably distilled in the Fall of 2006 when Britain’s Prince Andrew cut the ribbon for the opening of the distillery. There were several prior demostration distillations which never resulted in any public sales–only private industry auction fundraisers. In fact, the product that is being sold to the public for the first time July 1 was fermented and distilled inside the George Washington Distillery over the course of two weeks in February 09, under contract by former Maker’s Mark distiller Dave Pickerell.

  3. JB says:

    A novelty, to be sure – but a darn interesting one. I’d love to try it.

  4. Thomas Mckenzie says:

    John, has this had any barrel aging at all? It looks might clear to me. Any idea on the mashbill they used?

    • sam k says:

      I’m curious about the same things Mr. McKenzie. is. Otherwise, nicely packaged and appropriately priced. Wish I could get me one!

    • John Hansell says:

      Initially, I thought it was a shot of the empty bottle. But, a closer look shows liquid. Obviously, it doesn’t look like it has been aged very long.

  5. Douglas Fischer says:

    Hmm…. very interesting. And me in the DC area. Methinks a trip to Mount Vernon is in order this week.

    Thanks for the news, John.

  6. mary Caulfield says:

    Hello, is it possible to purchase a bottle pre-Auction if we’re not going to be in the DC area? Thanks.

  7. Mary says:

    If anyone is going tomorrow I would be willing to buy your bottle if you would also pick up one to send to me. My father in law would love this stuff and it would be the perfect gift. Unfortunately I live in NC and can’t manage a 10 hour round trip with my two kids. Email if interested. Thanks!

  8. Dave Pickerell says:

    Keep an eye out … while this first issue is essentially white dog, when we were making it, we also set an equal amount out in a couple of new charred 25 gallon white oak barrels … it is aging away nicely …

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