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Issue 105 - East Meets West

Whisky Magazine Issue 105
July 2012


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East Meets West

Liza Weisstuch reports on a meeting of minds at Mdount Vernon

There were critical decisions that had to be made, and not much time to make them.

There was guesswork that had to be done by fellows whose livelihoods are founded on precise, fixed measurements and practices; and there was a man in colonial garb tossing hand cut logs into an oven to fuel the fire that heated the stills.

Recently, three distinguished Scottish distillers visited Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate, to conduct an experiment. Even someone with a general disgust for hyperbole and sensationalism, like myself, could call this most groundbreaking. Historic, even. John Campbell, Laphroaig's distillery manager, Bill Lumsden, head of distilling and whisky creation for Glenmorangie, and Andrew Cant, Cardhu group manager, had come to this bucolic plot in Alexandria, Virginia to make a single malt.

Until it burned down in 1814, Washington's distillery stood on the very spot where it was replicated with painstaking attention to historical accuracy.

The stills are heated with direct flame, wood hand-fed into the brick chamber fuels the fire. Aside from plastic buckets and a rubber hose, there are no anachronistic devices to be found. Also, laptops set up on tables notwithstanding, it's precisely what George Washington beheld when he walked in each morning to distill rye whiskey, a skill he learned from his land manager James Anderson, a Scottish immigrant.

So the distillers were to make a single malt here at America's first commercial distillery.

The enterprise t...

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