George Washington was known first and foremost as commander in chief of the Continental Army and our nation's first president. But Washington was also a successful business entrepreneur and innovative farmer.
Washington erected a large stone gristmill in 1771 to increase production of flour and cornmeal, and to be able to export high quality flour to the West Indies, England, and Europe. In 1797, Washington's Scottish farm manager James Anderson encouraged him to build a whiskey distillery adjacent to the gristmill. The distillery was the largest in America, producing 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799, making it one of the most successful economic enterprises at Mount Vernon.
A 16-foot waterwheel powers the giant gears and millstones of Washington's remarkable mill that includes the only operating Oliver Evans Automated Milling System in America. The Evans system won U.S. Patent No. 3 and helped to make the gristmill at Mount Vernon a commercial success. Demonstrations of the mill are given by millers in early-American attire. Stone ground cornmeal produced on site is available at the Gristmill Shop.
Distillers demonstrate 18th-century techniques operating five copper stills, mash tubs, and a boiler in the two-story building that also includes and office and living quarters. A museum on the second floor features a History Channel video, George Washington's Liquid Gold, and an exhibit, Spirits of Independence: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry. George Washington's Distillery is the Gateway to the American Whiskey Trail.