Ardent Spirits: Adult Beverages and American Culture
Guest Speaker: Dennis J. Pogue, PhD, University of Maryland
Topic: Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry
From modest beginnings in the first decades of the 17th century, the production of alcoholic beverages expanded and matured until by the early 1800s it was one of the most important industries in America. Over time whiskey made from locally grown grain replaced Caribbean rum distilled from molasses as the preferred spirit. Few people know that George Washington, the foremost leader in the nation’s founding, was also a pioneer in developing the American whiskey industry. The distillery that he established at his Mount Vernon estate in 1797 quickly grew to be one of the largest producers in the country. Washington’s largely unknown and unexamined career as a distiller forms the core of this detailed portrayal of the early years of Americans’ close attachments to beverage alcohol.
Distillery at Mount Vernon