Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling and Dave Pickerell of Hillrock Estate Distillery (New York) are participating in an exciting project making the first peach brandy made at George Washington’s distillery at Mount Vernon in more than 200 years. Did you know George Washington operated the largest distillery in America at its time? The peach brandy was unveiled on April 1st, with a limited batch of 400 bottles retailing at $150 per 375-ml. bottle. The brandy was recreated using 18th century techniques, double-distilling the product in copper pot stills, heating it by wood fires, and then aging it two years in toasted oak barrels.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon distillery website reveals a rich history:
In 1797, George Washington hired a Scottish plantation manager, James Anderson, who encouraged him to build a whiskey distillery next to his gristmill. This distillery was the largest in America and produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799. Five copper pot stills produced whiskey using Washington’s original mash bill (60% rye, 35% corn and 5% malted barley) which was then sold to neighboring farmers and in Alexandria. It was one of the most successful business enterprises at Mount Vernon.
When George Washington died in 1799, an inventory listed peach, apple and persimmon brandy, plain whiskey, and cinnamon whiskey stored in the mansion’s basement. It is thought that all these items were made at Washington’s distillery and served to guests. Today, the two-story stone distillery is reconstructed and operates seasonally, mashing, fermenting and distilling grain as it was done in the eighteenth century.
The website has some great videos about this historic distillery and the original recipes for some of the whiskeys produced. https://www.mountvernon.org/peachbrandy