CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 38

W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M I have never been involved in spirit production before this, so being able to touch, smell and taste the distillate in its various stages taught me a lot about what I’m getting in the whiskeys I have at home. The heads and tails are collected in five-gallon buckets while the hearts are held in 55-gal- lon plastic containers until doubling. Heads are high in proof, and methyl alcohol which is toxic, and the tails are low in proof containing a lot of fatty and oily substances with neither of them being pleasant tasting. The hearts are the part the distiller will double, or run again, and is the most desired in flavor and proof. The day of the doubling run wasn’t much different than the previous days. The process resembled the stripping runs, with each still being looked after by one person, while one or two additional workers collected the new make to be taken to the proofing table. This final spirit is also saved in plastic barrels until it can be transferred to wooden barrels for aging or sent to be filtered and bottled as white whiskey. They make whiskey in March and November and use all five stills because the building is closed to the public. They run brandy during the touring season in May, September, and October, which only requires three of the stills. This allows them to keep tours on one side of the distillery and away from the fires and hot copper. It also gives visitors a chance to see the site in operation while being safe. The amount of retail product is very small and sold exclusively in the gift shop at Mount Vernon. We were treated to samples on our last evening, and I can say it’s a good spirit. The product aged two years is just a little easier to drink than the unaged. The unaged wasn’t as harsh as most white whis- keys because of filtering prior to bottling. Both have a lot of citrus and mint notes, along with the usual pepper I taste in a rye. They both have more layers than I’m used to with whiskeys as young or unaged as Mount Ver- non’s. As humbling as the whole experience was, the highlight of the trip was the night we were invited to go up to the mansion late after the crowds had left. I was with my old friends, Lisa and Alan, and my new friend, Steve, remi- niscing about the day, toasting one distiller’s birthday and lamenting the passing of another when it got quiet. This affected me a lot as I imagined George Washington standing on that same spot over 200 years before me and looking out at the Potomac River in a reflective mood just as I was do- ing. I contemplated what his thoughts or worries about the Revolutionary War might have been, the beginnings of a new country and his role in all these things. It overwhelmed me just to be there. I think every American citizen should visit the capital of our nation once in their life. Any opportunity you may have to go to Mount Vernon should be taken as well. Go see the home of our first President and experience what it was like to live and work in that time.