Brandy’s April 1 Sale Date Coincides with Distillery Re-opening
NEW YORK CITY – Spirits aficionados and history buffs gathered at New York City’s NoMad hotel today to enjoy a sip of history, as the presidents of George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Distilled Spirits Council unveiled the first Peach Brandy distilled at George Washington’s Distillery in more than 200 years.
Four hundred bottles of the inaugural Peach Brandy will go on sale at the Distillery & Gristmill, Mount Vernon, Virginia, on Tuesday, April 1, at 10 a.m. Each 375ml bottle retails for $150. (See below for details on the sale.)
The unique Peach Brandy was recreated at the distillery in 2010 by a team of Distilled Spirits Council small distillers using 18th century techniques. The Brandy wasdouble-distilled in copper pot stills heated by wood fires and was aged for two years in toasted oak barrels.
The team of master distillers, from some of America’s leading small distilleries, was led by: Ted Huber, Huber’s Starlight Distillery (IN); Brian McKenzie, Finger Lakes Distilling (NY); Lance Winters, St. George Spirits (CA); Dave Pickerell, WhistlePig Whiskey (VT) and Hillrock Estate Distillery (NY); Joe Dangler, A. Smith Bowman Distillery (VA) and Scott Harris,Catoctin Creek Distilling Company (VA).
“There’s no better place to learn about George Washington’s entrepreneurial genius than at his whiskey distillery. Washington started the distillery in order to capitalize on the growing demand for rye whiskey, but he also used it to make liquors to serve to his guests,” said Curt Viebranz, President of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
According to Washington’s records, Peach Brandy was distilled in limited quantities but was very popular for entertaining at the Mount Vernon mansion. Washington’s financial accounts revealed he sold only eight gallons of Peach Brandy in 1798, and a distillery ledger entry from 1799 shows 60 gallons of Peach Brandy was sent to the “Mount Vernon house” for entertaining.
“The reconstruction of George Washington’s Distillery has shone a bright light on America’s fascinating distilling heritage,” said Peter Cressy, President of the Distilled Spirits Council, which organized the New York tasting event. “It has captivated the public and helped energize the American whiskey renaissance. Further, Washington continues to be a role model for the entire industry with his lifelong personal commitment to moderation and responsibility.”
At the event, Derek Brown, renowned drinks historian and owner of The Passenger and Columbia Room in Washington, D.C., created a colonial-style punch using George Washington’s Peach Brandy. Brown’s well-researched recipe was similar to what Martha Washington might have served at her table at Mount Vernon. He also led a discussion on the history of brandy distilling and consumption in 18th century America.
Mount Vernon’s Manager of Historic Trades Steve Bashore offered tastings of the inaugural Peach Brandy as well as George Washington’s Rye Whiskey, which was also produced at the reconstructed distillery. Two of the original George Washington’s Peach Brandy distilling team members, Ted Huber of Huber’s Starlight Distillery (IN) and Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling (NY), also participated in the event by showcasing some of their modern fruit brandies.
Rare Washington Distillery Letter to Go on Exhibit at Mount Vernon
Also at the event participants were able to preview a rare original piece of Washington’s correspondence about the distillery that will be going on exhibit at Mount Vernon’s Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center on March 24.
Just prior to his death in 1799, Washington wrote a letter to his nephew, Col. William A. Washington, discussing his successful distillery operation. In the letter, Washington described the “demand” for his whiskey in the region as “brisk” and requested his nephew’s assistance in procuring additional grain for the distillery. The Distilled Spirits Council acquired the historic document for $18,800 at Christie’s New York auction house.
Washington’s Distillery Re-opens to the Public on April 1st
George Washington erected the 2,250-square-foot distillery in 1797, making it among the largest whiskey distilleries in early America. In 1799, Washington produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey, worth the then-substantial sum of $7,500.
In 2000, Mount Vernon began the excavation and restoration of the $2 million distillery project with a grant from the distilled spirits industry. In Fall 2006, the distillery was dedicated by Britain’s Prince Andrew, and in March, 2007 it officially opened to the public. The limited edition of 471 bottles of the first Rye Whiskey produced at the distillery sold out to the public in two hours in 2010.
The reconstructed distillery marks the only historic site in the country capable of showing the early American distilling process from seed to barrel. From April through October, visitors can see costumed distillers demonstrating the distillation process on a daily basis.
Details on the Sale:
George Washington’s Peach Brandy is available only on site at The Gristmill Shop at Mount Vernon. Vouchers to purchase this historic Brandy will be issued to customers beginning at 8 a.m. on April 1; sales commence at 10 a.m. Guests may obtain a numbered voucher and return at any time between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to make their purchases. Any Peach Brandy remaining unsold after April 1 will be available for sale in The Shops at Mount Vernon. Sales are limited to one bottle per person. Customers must be age 21 or over and present a valid ID. The Brandy must be purchased in-person; Mount Vernon cannot accommodate internet or phone orders, and brandy cannot be shipped.