Unearthing George Washington's Distillery

Who could have imagined that the Father of the Nation of the United States would set his mind on whisky making after retiring from his presidency in 1797? Yet, that is exactly what George Washington did. Shortly after stepping down from his stately duties, he was looking forward to the peacefulness of a sedentary pastoral life which had so far eluded him. Mount Vernon was his sanctuary of choice, and when plantation owner James Anderson met George Washington, he proposed they utilize the watermills, and state-of-art gristmill of Vernon for whisky production.

Though hesitant at first, Washington jumped on the bandwagon of distilling whisky, and George Washington’s Gristmill & Distillery was born. Since then, there has been no looking back. By 1798, the distillery was up on its feet, and in 1799, it became the largest whisky distillery in Vermont. But, the days of glory didn’t last for long. After the death of George Washington in 1799, his nephew inherited the distillery. Lawrence Lewis lacked the sharp business acumen of his uncle, and the distillery was burned to smithereens after a massive fire in 1814. The distillery may have been lost forever had archaeologists not discovered the foundation of the original distillery in 1997.

After securing funds from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the distillery was reconstructed and opened for public visit in 2007. If you’re a whisky fanatic, and a lover of history, visit the renovated George Washington Gristmill & Distillery for a trip down the hallway of George Washington’s entrepreneurial venture as a whisky maker.