George Washington's Distillery and Gristmill

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
703-360-1750

George Washington's venture into the whiskey business began at the urging of his farm manager, James Anderson. Anderson, who had been involved in the distilling industry in Scotland before immigrating to America in the early 1790s, was convinced that a distilling business would round out Mount Vernon's complement of economic ventures - and generate substantial profits. Ever the discriminating businessman, Washington proceeded cautiously but allowed Anderson to purchase two stills and set up a small operation in the cooperage next to the gristmill in early 1797. The result was the production of six hundred gallons, sold for a good profit. Encouraged, George Washington agreed to construct a large distillery over the winter of 1797-1798. The new distillery was 75 feet by 30 feet and contained 5 copper pot stills, a boiler, and all required equipment for large-scale whiskey production. In 1799, the year of Washington's death, the distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons, making it the largest whiskey distillery in America at the time.

Washington's merchant gristmill, erected in 1770-1771, was capable of producing 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of flour and cornmeal a day. Over a period of 29 years, Washington's wheat crops were turned into flour for overseas markets, and the corn ground at the gristmill was used to feed the slave population and paid staff, as well as the Washington family and their frequent guests.  In the fall of 1791, Washington learned of the newly patented automated milling system invented by Oliver Evans. Evans received U.S. Patent #3 for his groundbreaking system, which moved wheat and flour throughout the mill without the need of manual labor. Washington purchased a license for the patent and had the milling system installed in his gristmill. Today, this milling system is faithfully interpreted, fully-functioning, and open to guests on a seasonal basis.


Reviews

Margie Krabacher-Killian

Rating:
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017

The most memorable experience I have ever had. I definitely will come back to learn more about our 1st president. Beautiful surroundings, informative and well worth the visit. Reading our history books in school does not do this justice. A MUST SEE for all.

ALICIA JOHNSON

Rating:
Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017

This has been so we'll preserved and it's maintained in a classy, authentic manner. The grounds are beautiful, the history is fascinating, the food is delicious, and it's a wonderful little educational escape from the city. I would recommend eating at the restaurant as everything is grown right there on the grounds and it's also flavorful! The staff we're so friendly and kind. We had a wonderful visit!

Buck Buchanahan

Rating:
Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017

Super cool piece of history. The people there were very nice and were incredibly knowledgeable of the entire property. The speakers were exceptionally fun to listen to. I would eat before though and sneak my own water. That place charges 3.00 for water and none of the fountains work. Plus the food court was out of control pricey as well.

Lacey Burnett

Rating:
Saturday, Sep. 16, 2017

It was a truly wonderful experience. Reasonable prices for entry. We went during a special event weekend the colonial market and fair. It was a great visit, very educational. We enjoyed just walking the grounds at our own leasuire. Be sure an pay attention, you can walk in and look into most buildings on the grounds. If we come back we will definitely make time for a full day, to explore all the attractions. The standard tour was very enjoyable. Be sure and wear comfortable shoes. Also, the grounds are dog friendly, except for the mansion and museum.

Greg Travassos

Rating:
Monday, Sep. 4, 2017

There is so much to do here.  I've been to DC many times but usually did not have a car or was not wanting to spend money so I've never been here before.  Let me tell you, you will not regret going here.  You can easily spend all day here.  My wife and I got there at 1pm and left when the museum closed at 6pm rushed through it and we didn't even see the gristmill or distillery!  We could have easily spent 8 hours here.  When you get in make sure to look at the calendar for the day so you can plan when to be where.  If you want to see the weaving for example, it's a walk from the mansion so make sure you're in that area when it starts.  Do not miss out on the museum either.  There are multiple movies and tons of good information there.  In the museum alone expect to spend almost 2 hours.  If you've been to Monticello this place is much bigger, highly highly recommend this as something to do outside of the normal National Mall activities in DC.