George Washington's Gristmill
As a farmer, George Washington operated this grist mill on Dogue Run. There he ground wheat and corn into flour and meal. After years of use and different owners, the mill fell into ruin. In the 1930s the mill was rebuilt with materials and machinery from a similar mill of the period. The mill is operated by Mount Vernon and is open April through October, seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nearby, Mount Vernon archaeologists have uncovered the foundation of George Washington's 1797 whiskey distillery. The building, a 75 by 30 foot stone structure, housed five stills, a boiler and 50 mash tubs distilling corn and rye. In 1799, the distillery produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey, which was sold in Alexandria to farmers, earning Washington a profit of more than seven thousand five hundred dollars. This project's goal is to learn about this important component of the plantation and, ultimately, reconstruct the distillery. It is being funded by Distilled Sprits Council of the United States.
A 16-foot waterwheel powers the giant gears and millstones of Washington's remarkable mill that includes the only operating Oliver Evans Automated Milling System in America. The Evans system won U.S. Patent No. 3 and helped to make the gristmill at Mount Vernon a commercial success. Demonstrations of the mill are given by millers in early-American attire. Stone ground cornmeal produced on site is available at the Gristmill Shop.
Distillers demonstrate 18th-century techniques operating five copper stills, mash tubs, and a boiler in the two-story building that also includes and office and living quarters. A museum on the second floor features a History Channel video, George Washington's Liquid Gold, and an exhibit, Spirits of Independence: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry. George Washington's Distillery is the Gateway to the American Whiskey Trail.
Spring and fall are generally comfortable with precipitation possible. Summers can be hot and humid with average temperatures in the high 80s F and with sudden thunderstorms possible. July and August are the hottest months. Winters can be cold with average temperatures in the winter of 41 F with variable precipitation.
Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Route 235, one quarter mile south from U.S. 1, or three miles west of the Mount Vernon Estate. Estimated Driving Time to Park from: Northern Virginia, half an hour (this facility is located in the area); Richmond, one and a half hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, two and a half hours; Roanoke, four hours.
Visitors are advised that they must plan their own transportation to the Distillery and Gristmill site. Bus service is also available. The Fairfax Connector Bus #152 boards in front of the Mount Vernon Inn at 42 minutes past the hour every hour. To return to the estate, the Fairfax Connector Bus #151 boards on the hour every hour between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.