In 2012, four of the top whiskey men from around the world met at Gen. George Washington’s Mount Vernon Distillery. Their mission: To celebrate America’s whiskey history — and Scotland’s contribution to it — by hand-crafting a collaborative, one-of-a-kind single malt whiskey.
The mission began with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the Mount Vernon Association — two groups keenly interested in righting the lies spewed by America’s Prohibitionists in the early 20th century. Intent on convincing a reluctant public that whiskey was the tool of the devil, the prohibitionists eagerly hijacked figures from Jesus Christ to Gen. Washington to justify their crusade.
It didn’t matter that the Bible teaches that Christ had made his own wine, which was delicious, and served wine at his last dinner. And it certainly didn’t matter that Gen. Washington built one of the United States’ first high-volume distilleries, eventually producing 10,942 gallons of rye to ship to the port city of Alexandria, Virginia.
Indeed, the dastardly revisionists were so keen to bury any trace of Gen. Washington’s heritage in whiskey they built a pipeline right over the spot where his distillery had stood, literally burying American history. Two hundred years after Gen. Washington had turned a healthy profit on rye, the land was a rarely visited property in the hands of a disinterested federal government.
But no more. Thanks to DISCUS and Mount Vernon, the distillery and its gristmill are working, growing, and attracting more attention with their history, whiskey and brandy. In 2009, the distillery produced 97 gallons of spirits; this year, they’ve produced 423 gallons, and will have received between 42 and 43,000 visitors by October.
And in the spring of 2012, these four whiskey men came here. They were Master Distillers John Campbell of Laphroaig, Andy Cant of Cardhu, Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie, and Dave Pickerell of Maker’s Mark and Whistle Pig fame. (RELATED: TheDC Distills George Washington’s Whiskey At Mount Vernon)
The whiskey was single malt, made with carefully selected grains shipped from Scotland and ground in the Mount Vernon gristmill. The stills were wood-fired — the only legal wood-fired whiskey stills in the United States — and the collaboration between these men was unprecedented. Still, no one knew what to expect.
Then, on day one, the first distillation came through. Clean and minty, with a touch of that sweet, spring water taste found in top-level authentic moonshine, it blew the distillers away. “We’re nowhere near these flavors after first distill,” Laphroaig’s Campbell told The Daily Caller. A decision was made to bottle half in the first distillation. And this being a single malt project, the rest would be distilled a second time for another bottling.
Years later, in October 2015, after 28 months in new, toasted oak casks, and another four finished in madeira casks, 40 bottles of each were ready and labeled.
Later that night, a charity auction sold the bottles — one of each — for a whopping $26,000. Not bad, for a three-year. But how did they taste, you ask? Let us tell you.
George Washington Single Malt Whiskey Limited Edition
Darker than the first-run, and with a reddish hue, the nose of the limited edition was light and delicate with notes of sweet cereal. The first thing noticed on the palate: spice. This is a bold whiskey, whose spicy start gives way to a slow, sweet finish.
George Washington Single Malt Whiskey Distiller’s Reserve
A favorite then, and a favorite now, the once-distilled whiskey is light, golden juice with a nose that is both delicate and nutty. Slowly sipping in the warm Virginia sun, this whiskey holds the sweetness of its madeira finish; smooth, with nutty, almond notes and a malty finish. Slow and delicious, it warms the body.
The Bad News
Life isn’t fair, and this is as close as you’re gonna get to tasting either of these.