Distilling Rosen Rye at George Washington’s Distillery

As fans of History, Distilling, and Rosen Rye; Stoll and Wolfe’s very own Jim and Erik Wolfe were more than a little excited to join Head Miller and Distiller Steve Bashore and his dedicated team at the historic Mt. Vernon Distillery to help distill their inaugural batch of Rosen Rye Whiskey.

Who goes on vacation to do the same job elsewhere? Distillers. Jim and Erik were fortunate to join forces with Lisa Roper Wicker of Widow Jane, Kim & Tom Bard of The Bard Distillery, Aleasha Monroe of West Overton and Laura Fields of The Delaware Valley Fields Foundation and The American Whiskey Convention. Fields’ SeedSpark Campaign started the Keystone Rye Revival with just 5ozs of seed nearly 7 years ago.

Read More About the Keystone Rosen Revival Here.

In 1799, George Washington’s distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons, making it one of the largest distilleries in America.


NBC Coverage of Rosen Rye Whiskey at Mt. Vernon

Here’s Five Facts About George Washington’s Distillery from Mt.Vernon.org:

1. George Washington owned and operated a commercial distillery.

That George Washington was willing to commit to distilling by building such a large distilling operation is evidence of his desire to pursue the most innovative and creative farming practices of the day. Despite having no prior experience in distilling, he quickly became acquainted with the process.

2. James Anderson, Washington’s Scottish farm manager, convinced Washington to begin his distilling operation.

George Washington began commercial distilling in 1797 at the urging of his Scottish farm manager, James Anderson, who had experience distilling grain in Scotland and Virginia. He successfully petitioned George Washington that Mount Vernon’s crops, combined with the large merchant gristmill and the abundant water supply, would make the distillery a profitable venture.

3. Washington’s distillery was one of the largest distilleries in the nation at its time.

Washington’s Distillery operated five copper pot stills for 12 months a year. The average distillery used one or two stills and distilled for one month. In 1799, Washington’s Distillery produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey, valued at $7,500 (approximately $120,000 today). The average Virginia distillery produced about 650 gallons of whiskey per year which was valued at about $460.

4. Whiskey was the most common beverage produced by the distillery.

The most common beverage produced at Washington’s distillery was a whiskey made from 60% rye, 35% corn, and 5% malted barley. This rye was distilled twice and sold as common whiskey. Smaller amounts were distilled up to four times, making them more expensive. Some whiskey was rectified (filtered to remove impurities) or flavored with cinnamon or persimmons. Wheat was also distilled when rye was scarce. Apple, peach, and persimmon brandies were produced and also vinegar.

5. Washington’s whiskey was not bottled, branded, or aged.

Unlike today, Washington’s whiskey was not bottled or branded. The whiskey coming from the distillery was poured into wooden barrels, usually 31 gallons in size, and shipped to nearby merchants. Nor was it the custom of the day to age the whiskey.

Today, George Washington’s Mount Vernon produces limited batches of both aged and unaged whiskey, placed in branded bottles, produced in the traditional 18th century way in George Washington’s reconstructed distillery.

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