CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 34

W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M or aged. It was distributed to local merchants in 31-gallon barrels. A lot of Washington’s spirits went to his good friend, George Gilpin, that owned stores in Alexandria. Gilpin received 2,000 gallons on consignment in 1798, and it sold so well that he purchased 4,000 gallons outright in 1799. The common whiskey sold for 50 cents a gallon and the fourth distilled for $1 per gallon. Brandy sold for a little more than that, and it’s recorded that $332 in tax was paid on the 4,500 gallons made in 1798. At the peak of production in 1799, Washington made $7,500 gross profit from the 11,000 gallons produced, and it was the most profitable part of the plantation. The Whiskey Tax was enacted in 1791 and resistance to it peaked with vio- lence against the tax collectors in 1794, forcing Washington to call out and assemble a militia of 13,000 men. The militia was sent to western Pennsyl- vania where the Whiskey Rebellion was stopped, and the Federal Govern- ment’s right to tax U.S. citizens was upheld. The Whiskey tax was also the first tax levied by the United States government. Several slaves worked in the distillery with Anderson, his son, John, and assistant, Peter Bingle. The slaves’ names were Hanson, Peter, Nate, Dan- iel, James, and Timothy. Five of the slaves were Dower slaves (they were the property of Martha Washington from her first marriage) and one was a rented slave. This meant that even after Washington freed his slaves upon his death, these six continued to be enslaved when Washington’s nephew inherited the gristmill and distillery following Martha Washington’s death. The distillery burned down in 1814, but information of the operation was preserved in Washington’s writings. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association was formed in 1853 after Louisa Bird Cunningham was traveling on the Po- tomac River and passed by the estate. Cunningham was embarrassed with the estate’s appearance and, in a letter to her daughter wrote, “If the men of the United States will not save the home of its greatest citizen, perhaps it should be the responsibility of the women.” Cunningham’s daughter Ann Pamela Cunningham convinced John Augustine Washington III, the last of Wash- ington’s family to own the property, to sell the property. The mansion was restored by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and opened to the public. Archeological work started in 1997 on the grounds of the original distillery with reconstruction beginning in 2005 and completion in 2007. Vendome Copper and Brass Works, Inc. was contracted to recreate the stills built by George McMunn 208 years earlier. I had the honor of seeing how those stills work firsthand over a four-day period. The five stills on the property today were recreated by Vendome Copper and Brass, Inc. from notes and examples now held in the Oscar Getz Whis- key Museum in Bardstown, Kentucky. From smallest to largest, the stills are named Elizabeth, Sandra, Maggie, Sarah, and Pam. Each one is a direct, wood-fired, single batch pot still that rests inside brick fireboxes. Trust me when I say they use a lot of wood in production because during lulls in