In the early years of the 21st Century archaeologists rediscovered the foundations of the still house on the Mount Vernon estate and the decision was made to rebuild the distillery. Research was done in their records and they uncovered the mash bill used at the distillery. The national organization for the distilleries, DISCUS quickly got behind the project and a still was produced at Vendome and they started making whiskey while the original still house was being rebuilt. The project was completed and Steve Bashore was hired to be the distiller as well as to run the mill next to the distillery. I have never heard Steve use the term “Master Distiller” to describe himself. If anyone deserves the title, Steve does because he has been taught by the Master Distillers from almost every major distillery. Yet he admits he is still learning and listens to every distiller that comes to visit so he can learn more. The result of this combined teaching is an excellent rye whiskey.
The rye whiskey is a rye, corn and malt recipe based upon George Washington’s records. The stills are pot stills that are copper and wood fired. The grain is sourced locally and milled at the water mill next to the distillery. The yeast is not original but the group of distillers that taught Steve made an excellent choice of yeast for the whiskey. He is barreling the whiskey in a combination of full sized barrels and half-barrels. The bottled product is in 375ml bottles and sold only at the gift shop at Mount Vernon. This means a trip to the estate if you want to purchase a bottle, but you might find bottles in bars, as well if the owners made the trip to Virginia and have laws in their States that allow them to sell pours from such bottles. Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington D.C. is one place you can find this whiskey for sale by the pour. It is expensive but well worth the money. One of the best rye whiskeys being produced in the United States, in my opinion.
George Washington’s Straight Rye
Age: 4 years old
Nose: Very fruity with apples, pears and apricots, old leather and backing spices. There is only a hint of oak in the background.
Taste: Very brandy-like. Fruit forward with apples and apricots. Baking spices – ginger and cinnamon, with a touch of oak wood. A dried cranberry enhances the spice and oak in the whiskey. A pecan enhances the apricot and adds a little mango note while lessening the spice notes.
Finish: Very long and spicy with those warm baking spices and oak wood flavors. A dried cranberry brings forward the oak in the finish to balance the baking spices. A pecan shortens the finish and reduces the spice and oak flavors.
I love this rye whiskey. It is worth every penny paid for the bottle. Today I am pairing the rye with Jericho Hill Jack Brown cigar by Crowned Heads. I thought the rye would add balance to the hay and cedar spice flavor of the smoke and it worked. The rye adds some sweet vanilla and sweet baking spice notes to the smoke while the smoke brought forward a ripe apple and ginger and cinnamon spice flavors to the rye. A very good pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller