Did you know that at the time our first President passed away, he owned the largest distillery in the country?
George Washington was not a whiskey drinker, but he was impressed with whiskey as a financial investment. Washington’s farm manager in the 1790’s was James Anderson, a Scottish immigrant with experience in distilling. It was Anderson that convinced the former President to begin making rye whiskey and once Washington saw the profits, the distillery expanded. By 1799, the Mt. Vernon distillery was producing about 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year.
George Washington was very familiar with the desire for whiskey throughout our newly established country. As a general, he knew that whiskey was a necessity for troops. Each soldier in 1785 was given a 4 oz. spirit ration of rum. In 1790 that was reduced to 2 oz of whiskey, rum or brandy. The year of the Whiskey Rebellion (1794), any troops going into battle would receive double rations. It was a given that soldiers needed their whiskey. The Whiskey Rebellion itself spoke volumes about how important whiskey had become to the country’s people and its economy. Whiskey was a revenue source and a trade commodity. Our first president knew that whiskey was a fine form of income, even if it wasn’t his first choice to drink.