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Issue 59 - Back in business

Whisky Magazine Issue 59
October 2006


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Back in business

After 200 years,George Washington's distillery has been restored to its former glory, Charles K. Cowdery looks at the history and takes us behind the scenes

George Washington's distiller was from Scotland, so Prince Andrew cut the ribbon at the restored distillery's grand opening in Mount Vernon, Virginia, on September 27. A thin reed, perhaps, but His Royal Highness, The Duke of York, also was acting in his capacity as the United Kingdom's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.

The Duke proves to be a big draw and the small site teams with guests long before his arrival. There is almost too much activity going on. Over here, modern distillers in period costumes are making rye whiskey in a small replica still they have used for these events since 2003. Over there, other workers, also in 18th century garb, are breaking the spell by using an electric pump to fill about 20 bottles with the rye whiskey made here almost three years ago. In the new/old distillery itself, Mount Vernon's Chief Historian, Dennis Pogue, is giving a tour.

A taste of the rye was smuggled out. A year ago, this whiskey was quite rough. It has mellowed nicely since then. All things considered, it's good. The 20 or so bottles of it filled this afternoon will be raffled off later this evening, with the proceeds to benefit Mount Vernon.

When HRH arrives, all eyes are on him. He makes a nice speech, is presented with a bottle of the rye in a fancy wooden box, then cuts the ribbon. A cannon is fired. Nothing is said about the fact that 200 years ago, the two countries being celebrated today were shooting those cannon at each other.


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