George Washington's whiskey recipe endures at Mount Vernon Distillery

Mount Vernon is cashing in on the artisan liquor craze.

"We're making George Washington's rye whiskey based on the original recipe he used in the late 1790's," says Steve Bashore, manager of historic trades for Mount Vernon. "You need a lot of water to make old fashioned rye whiskey."

Bashore, Justin Philipowski, and a handful of employees and volunteers boil water, add the grains, and row the mash.

"It's like oatmeal, if you can imagine 120 gallons of oatmeal, that's what we've got," Philipowski says.

Then the mixture goes to "the girls," five smoking hot stills.

Philipowski was supposed to be a minister, he says. Instead, he ended up at Mount Vernon, where he and his colleagues spend hours pouring the mash into stills, bucket by bucket.

And a few hours later, out comes a slow but steady stream of crystal clear, old fashioned, rye whiskey. Enough for 500 bottles, at $95 each.

"It is good whiskey," Bashore says. "We've actually gotten pretty good at it."

After more than 200 years, they've had time to perfect the recipe.

"Well, I think George Washington perfected the recipe, we're just trying not to mess it up," says Dave Pickerell, master distiller at Mount Vernon.

Sales for Washington's whiskey start in early April, but if you want it you better hurry. Last time they sold this recipe, they sold 500 bottles in just two hours.

The distillery is at 5514 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, three miles from the Mount Vernon Estate.