George Washington's Whiskey For Sale?

Mount Vernon recreates Washington's rye whiskey recipe for public consumption.

ByABC News
July 9, 2010, 4:58 PM

July 16, 2010 -- Just 213 years after George Washington started distilling his rye whiskey, it has once again hit the market. A nearly 15-year process of research and archeology allowed historians at Mount Vernon to recreate the first president's whiskey recipe.

The distillery, just three miles from Mount Vernon outside of Alexandria, Va. opened for business after the Virginia General Assembly approved sales in small amounts, selling out all 471 bottles at $85 dollars a pop.

Unlike whiskey made today, however, the general's batch wasn't aged. According to historians, the saying goes that Washington's whiskey was aged from the time it took to get from Mount Vernon to Alexandria for sale, all of a distance of eight miles.

In 1797, following his role as a general in the Revolutionary War, Founding Father and the first president of the United States, Washington became a successful distiller.

Dennis Pogue, vice president for preservation at Mount Vernon, says the venture was all about the money.

"Washington came back from the presidency in 1797 and he was looking frankly for an easier way to make money," said Pogue.

According to records at Mount Vernon, he was the largest distiller of his time producing almost 11,000 gallons of rye whiskey in 1799.

The un-aged spirit calls for a mash of rye, corn and malted barley. After distilling the mash two times it is ready to go. Some have referred to the substance as post revolutionary white lightning. Dennis Pogue says that's not so far from the truth.

"This is frankly a lot like white lightning," Pogue said. "Except that unlike moonshine, this of course was legal. Washington, we know, paid his taxes. He paid $300 in taxes in 1799. So, it was very legal."

While George Washington's whiskey is currently sold out, Mount Vernon hopes to make more sometime next year.