time they have become titans of the industry. Perhaps that is what draws so many modern distillers to Mount Vernon: the opportunity to witness distillation as it once was. When asked if he feels like there is a natural inclination of the people in this industry towards an appreciation for history, Bashore is quick to agree. “A lot of these distillers I find to be great historians...Fred Noe was in there with us working. It was great to work with him and hear his stories. He loved getting his hands dirty the old way.” This was part of a 10 year anniversary celebration that attracted a host of established distillers, including the current master distiller of Jim Beam himself. But that’s not the only occasion that’s brought today’s top producers to George Washington’s home. When the project was just beginning, Members of the Mount Vernon Preservation and Archaeology Department, then led by Dennis Pogue and Esther White, contacted the Distilled Spirits Council, headed up by Peter Cressy at the time, and discussed the implications of the historical distillery that they were uncovering during archaeological excavations. “He realized, and members of the different companies [involved in the Council] realized that this is a great story that needs to be told.” Major donations were received from the member companies to fund the remaining archaeology and the reconstruction. To assist in fundraising and promotion of the reconstruction project, they had Vendome Copper and Brass manufacture a replica still and set it up outside by the mill. “They made a copy of a 1790s still that’s in the Smithsonian Collection, that was made at Vendome
and tested out there in Kentucky then brought out here to Mount Vernon.” It was run by the likes of Jimmy Russell, Dave Pickerell, Chris Morris, Joe Dangler, and Ron Call, to name a few. Mike Sherman of Vendome also came to work the still in those early days. The resulting small batch distillation was bottled and sold to raise money for the project, and every year since then a similar event has taken place. “It’s been a great partnership, and we still have a number of visiting distillers that help us.” From 2009 until 2017, Dave Pickerell, the master distiller for Whistle Pig, helped on production runs. Joe Dangler, retired now from A. Smith Bowman Distillery, remains involved assisting from time to time. Ted Hubert, of Starlight Distillery, has helped on several brandy runs, as has Thomas Mckenzie, formerly of Finger Lakes Distilling. “It went so well we decided to make a regular run of it every so often, so we’ve done peach on three or four occasions. Sometimes we age it, sometimes we make it an eau de vie. We’ve also done apple brandy.” When the folks at Mount Vernon decided to make a small amount of rum — the release of which will coincide with the forthcoming release of Washington’s Barbados diaries — they reached out to the distilling community once more. “We did a very successful run with thanks to Lisa Wicker [of Saints & Monsters LLC, and Samson and Surrey] and Maggie Campbell of Privateer Rum. In fact, Lisa Wicker has been our key consulting distillery since 2016, providing great advice and direction which has helped our quality and yields.” It seems that collaborative efforts will never cease at Mount Vernon as long as there are spirits to be made and distillers WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
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