Founding Spirits
George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry

Publication (Book)

George Washington: first in war, first in peace and first in whiskey? In Founding Spirits George Washington s largely unknown and unexamined role as the entrepreneurial owner of one of the largest whiskey distilleries in 18th-century America forms the core of this detailed portrayal of the origins of the American whiskey industry.At the end of Washington s second presidential term, his plantation manager, a Scotsman with extensive experience distilling whiskey, made the president a proposition that he simply could not refuse. Thus, Washington agreed to invest in a stone still house and outfit it with state-of-the-art distilling equipment. The enterprise soon grew to be the most profitable of all of Washington s commercial ventures.

The distillery was not Washington s first or only engagement with spirituous liquors, as they were called at the time. Although the temperance movement hijacked his persona, in a flagrant attempt to rewrite history, by portraying him as a non-drinker, Washington was a confirmed social drinker. He knew first-hand both the benefits and drawbacks to the high levels of alcohol consumption that were the norm of his time.

Using the rich body of personal papers and other documentary evidence from the Mount Vernon plantation, Dennis Pogue highlights the development of American whiskey production and the primary economic and social role consuming alcoholic beverages played in Colonial American society.

TitleFounding Spirits
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsPogue, Dennis
Number of Pages304
PublisherHarbour Books
ISBN Number978-0983556503
ISBN0983556504
Abstract

George Washington: first in war, first in peace and first in whiskey? In Founding Spirits George Washington s largely unknown and unexamined role as the entrepreneurial owner of one of the largest whiskey distilleries in 18th-century America forms the core of this detailed portrayal of the origins of the American whiskey industry.At the end of Washington s second presidential term, his plantation manager, a Scotsman with extensive experience distilling whiskey, made the president a proposition that he simply could not refuse. Thus, Washington agreed to invest in a stone still house and outfit it with state-of-the-art distilling equipment. The enterprise soon grew to be the most profitable of all of Washington s commercial ventures.

The distillery was not Washington s first or only engagement with spirituous liquors, as they were called at the time. Although the temperance movement hijacked his persona, in a flagrant attempt to rewrite history, by portraying him as a non-drinker, Washington was a confirmed social drinker. He knew first-hand both the benefits and drawbacks to the high levels of alcohol consumption that were the norm of his time.

Using the rich body of personal papers and other documentary evidence from the Mount Vernon plantation, Dennis Pogue highlights the development of American whiskey production and the primary economic and social role consuming alcoholic beverages played in Colonial American society.