George Washington: First American President and... Whiskey Distiller?

Do you ever wonder what presidents do when they retire? Play golf, go for hikes, and possibly read for pleasure are probably somewhere on the list. And after spending so much time imbibing with political officials, my guess is that drinking some dark liquid in a highball glass is a habit from the White House that sticks with them into retirement.

It's no secret that our founding fathers could appreciate a good stiff drink - and George Washington was no exception. Famously known as the first American president and face of the one dollar bill, it may come as a surprise to some that his list of accomplishments also included distillery owner.

Yes, that's right. Good ol' George decided to take his imbibing a step further and open up his very own whiskey distillery.

According to the Smithsonian, farm manager James Anderson convinced Washington to utilize his gristmill and not let the abundance of rye crop go to waste. The result lead to the opening of George Washington's Distillery Mount Vernon in Virginia in 1797. Producing six hundred gallons in the first year, Washington was officially sold on the whiskey business and expanded the distillery.

So where's the whiskey today?

Sadly, the original distillery burnt down. But thanks to a few archeologists, historians, and whiskey lovers, the distillery was reconstructed to bring back a piece of history, along with Washington's whiskey.

Pumping out barrels similar to the original recipe, folks that want a little slice of the past can visit Mount Vernon and see how they used to distill back in the good old days.

This homage can't help but make you wonder what would have happened if George Washington was president when the 18th amendment - Prohibition - was passed.

Either way, it is part of our country's long-lived love of all things whiskey.

This article was originally published on Jan 24, 2018.

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