Four hundred bottles of George Washington’s Peach Brandy will go on sale at the George Washington Distillery & Gristmill, Mount Vernon, Va., on Tuesday, April 1, at 10 a.m. Each 375ml bottle retails for $150.
The unique Peach Brandy was recreated at the distillery in 2010 by a team of Distilled Spirits Council small distillers using 18th century techniques. The Brandy was double-distilled in copper pot stills heated by wood fires and was aged for two years in toasted oak barrels.
The team of master distillers, from some of America’s leading small distilleries, was led by: Ted Huber, Huber’s Starlight Distillery (Ind.); Brian McKenzie, Finger Lakes Distilling (N.Y.); Lance Winters, St. George Spirits (Calif.); Dave Pickerell, WhistlePig Whiskey (Vt.) and Hillrock Estate Distillery (N.Y.); Joe Dangler, A. Smith Bowman Distillery (Va.) and Scott Harris, Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. (Va).
“There’s no better place to learn about George Washington’s entrepreneurial genius than at his whiskey distillery. Washington started the distillery in order to capitalize on the growing demand for rye whiskey, but he also used it to make liquors to serve to his guests,” said Curt Viebranz, President of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
According to Washington’s records, Peach Brandy was distilled in limited quantities but was very popular for entertaining at the Mount Vernon mansion. Washington’s financial accounts revealed he sold only eight gallons of Peach Brandy in 1798, and a distillery ledger entry from 1799 shows 60 gallons of Peach Brandy was sent to the “Mount Vernon house” for entertaining.
In a related development, a rare original piece of Washington’s correspondence about the distillery will be going on exhibit at Mount Vernon’s Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center on March 24.
Just prior to his death in 1799, Washington wrote a letter to his nephew, Col. William A. Washington, discussing his successful distillery operation. In the letter, Washington described the “demand” for his whiskey in the region as “brisk” and requested his nephew’s assistance in procuring additional grain for the distillery. The Distilled Spirits Council acquired the historic document for $18,800 at Christie’s New York auction house.
George Washington erected the 2,250-square-foot distillery in 1797, making it among the largest whiskey distilleries in early America. In 1799, Washington produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey, worth the then-substantial sum of $7,500.
In 2000, Mount Vernon began the excavation and restoration of the $2 million distillery project with a grant from the distilled spirits industry. In Fall 2006, the distillery was dedicated by Britain’s Prince Andrew, and in March, 2007 it officially opened to the public. The limited edition of 471 bottles of the first Rye Whiskey produced at the distillery sold out to the public in two hours in 2010.
“The reconstruction of George Washington’s Distillery has shone a bright light on America’s fascinating distilling heritage,” said Peter Cressy, DISCUS president. “It has captivated the public and helped energize the American whiskey renaissance. Further, Washington continues to be a role model for the entire industry with his lifelong personal commitment to moderation and responsibility.”