George Washington began the commercial distillery at Mount Vernon in 1797. James Anderson, Washington’s farm manager and an experienced distiller from Scotland, convinced Washington that it was possible to make a considerable profit from a distillery located next to the abundant water and grain supply at the Gristmill.
After the initial success of a makeshift distillery that utilized two stills, Washington built a stone distillery large enough to house five copper pot stills with a total capacity of 616 gallons. The foundation was large river rocks brought from the Falls of the Potomac River and the walls of the Distillery were made of sandstone quarried from Mount Vernon. The Distillery also offered an important subsidiary benefit: livestock, particularly hogs, were fattened with the leftover cooked mash. In 1799, George Washington’s Distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons, making it one of the largest whiskey distilleries in America at the time.
The Distillery was reconstructed on the original site, based upon archaeological and historical evidence and opened to visitors in 2007.