October 14, 2011

George Washington's Aged Rye Whiskey

Photo by Bill Dowd
The rebuilt distillery at George Washington's home in Mount Vernon, VA, had its grand opening in 2007. Since then, everything distillers have made there has been a hit. For the most part, the uniqueness of the operation has created the demand for its output among collectors. And that was unaged whiskey, the same way it was sold in Washington's day when he was the young nation's top distiller.

It will be interesting to see how fast the 2-year-old George Washington Aged Rye Whiskey will go when the limited edition goes on sale at Mount Vernon on October 22.

The first such bottles, Nos. 1 and 1, went for $12,000 at auction Wednesday night during the anual gala there sponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). The event raised a total of $214,000 for Mount Vernon.

I was fortunate to have a sampling of the aged rye earlier in the day. A distinctive nose, with virtually no alcoholic heat, enticed me to quickly go further. This is a nice rye, not yet in the class of a Michter's or a Sazerac, but made nicely under master distiller Dave Pickerell, formerly of Maker's Mark and now consultant to numerous micro-distillers.

The tang of the rye base is evident, and notes of citrus, leather and perhaps a touch of cardamom are layered, a pleasant surprise from such a relatively young spirit. A tip of the hat to Pickerell and company, working with the only operating 18th Century-style equipment in the nation.

Retail Price: Better get yourself or a surrogate to Mount Vernon early on opening sales day. Just 300 limited-edition bottles will be sold for $185 each beginning at 10 a.m. that Saturday. Proceeds will go toward upkeep and operation of the Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens.

Go here for "Recreating the past at Mount Vernon distillery."

Go to Dowd's Spirits Notebook.

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