Does George Washington's Whiskey Still Exist?

George Washington is arguably the most important figure in the history of the United States. According to History, he went from being a successful land surveyor to a respected general leading the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Following his victory over British forces — which resulted in the birth of a brand new country — Washington was elected the first President of the United States in 1789. By most accounts, Washington was an intelligent, honest, compassionate, and dedicated leader who helped lay the foundation of America. With all of the titles and accolades he had in his life, it is hard to imagine what else could possibly be added to the list. It turns out that there was another position to add to Washington's impressive resume: whiskey distiller.

Following his stint as President, all George Washington wanted to do was get back to his home at Mount Vernon and live in peace. At 65 years old, he had fought in multiple wars, overthrown a government, helped create a new one, and then was asked to run it. That would be a lot for anyone, so it makes sense he was looking forward to a little R&R. But when a man named James Anderson entered the picture, things took an unusual turn. According to Smithsonian Magazine, when Anderson (a Scotsman) was hired as the plantation manager at Mount Vernon, he noticed that Washington's property was perfectly set up to produce something very lucrative — whiskey. All he had to do was convince Washington that it was a good idea.

From president to whiskey distiller

As previously stated, George Washington wanted to return to a more simple life, so when James Anderson approached him with his idea, the former president was hesitant. However, after much thought and a conversation with a friend of his who was a rum runner, he decided to get into the whiskey distilling business. As stated in Smithsonian Magazine, Anderson distilled the first round of whiskey at Mount Vernon in the winter of 1797. This first distilling was apparently so successful that Washington ordered that a full-fledged distillery be constructed on the property. Once built, it became the largest whiskey distillery in the nation within a year.

Though the operation was initially really successful, the distillery unfortunately fell into disrepair following Washington's death in 1799, according to Atlas Obscura. The original distillery did eventually burn down, but over two centuries later, in 2007, it was rebuilt and then reopened to the public. They now produce recreations of Washington's whiskey and brandy, utilizing the same 18th-century recipe. Bottles of these reproduced spirits are still available for sale today at Mount Vernon.