Distilling Heirloom Grains at a Heritage Distillery

Thank you to Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast for visiting George Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill in Arlington, Virginia for our recent adventure and the opportunity to discuss Rosen Rye past, present and future. Listen to this week’s episode for more about Mt. Vernon’s Rosen Rye project and tasting notes on our newly released Straight Rosen Rye.

The grain used to make many of today’s whiskies isn’t always picked for its flavor, but that’s not the distiller’s fault. Blame the commodity grain system, in which the largest grain customers determine what types of rye, corn, wheat, and barley are most widely planted by farmers. It’s the Golden Rule, in which the one with the most gold gets to call the shots…and distillers aren’t the ones with the most gold. Because of that, many grain types distillers would love to use are consigned to “heirloom” status or forgotten entirely. That’s what happened to Rosen Rye, a strain prized for generations by Pennsylvania distillers that almost disappeared completely – until a small band of mavericks brought it back to life. Earlier this month, a team of craft distillers gathered at George Washington’s Distillery at Mount Vernon to make a batch of Rosen Rye, and we’ll have that story for you on WhiskyCast.


Jim and Erik Wolfe joined Mt. Vernon’s Head Distiller Steve Bashore, and his dedicated team for their inaugural run of the historic heirloom grain. Read more in our earlier post Distilling Rosen Rye at George Washington’s Distillery here.