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OT: How did you come to distil spirits at the George Washington Distillery?
Steven T. Bashore: I am a traditional miller and distiller by trade and have been operating, interpreting and repairing historic watermills for 23 years now. Since 2007, I have been distilling at George Washington’s reconstructed distillery producing rye whiskey, single malt whisky as well as peach and apple brandy. Prior to coming to Mount Vernon, I was the miller at Stratford Hall, where I coordinated a major 27-month-long restoration of the mill. Before Stratford Hall, I worked at Colvin Run Mill in Great Falls, Virginia.
OT: What spirits does the distillery produce?
Steven T. Bashore: The spirits we produce include the George Washington Straight Rye, the George Washington Rye, the Peach Brandy, Peach Brandy Eau De Vie and the Apple Brandy.
OT: Can you share some tasting notes with us?
Steven T. Bashore:
Un-aged rye: Fresh rye bread, surprisingly sweet nose, spicy, pepper finish.
Aged rye: Peppery nose, dried fruit, smooth on palate, oak, and hint of vanilla and caramel.
Peach Eau de Vie (un-aged brandy): White wine grape and pleasant hint of alcohol on nose, strong stone fruit.
Aged Peach aged (aged in used bourbon casks): Wheat whiskey, preserved peach, vanilla and light cream in nose, oak, caramel, earthy, hint of bourbon.
Aged apple brandy (aged in used bourbon casks): Very ripe apple, allspice on nose, heavy mouth feel, rich, light ‘old’ oak barrel, slightly almond vanilla, burnt sugar finish.
OT: What’s the distillery tour all about?
Steven T. Bashore: One of the nation’s most beloved historic sites, Mount Vernon offers a glimpse into the 18th-century through an immersive programme honouring George Washington’s life and legacy. The tour consists of well-guided, in-depth narratives of the history of the entire distillery. We also showcase the water-powered mill which operates as it did at the time when George Washington installed the latest advanced machinery to make his mill more productive.
OT: What are the other attractions at Mount Vernon?
Steven T. Bashore: Mount Vernon is a perfect destination for families. The Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens was the home and is the burial place of George and Martha Washington. Visiting Mount Vernon on the shores of the Potomac River in Virginia, a mere 15 miles south of Washington, D.C., you can see it is undisputedly one of the most scenic tourist attractions of the capital region. The mansion features restored rooms with original furniture used by Washington and his family. The museums and galleries, the whiskey distillery, the expertly guided tours and the culinary options ensure that this tourist destination offers something for everyone.
OT: Is the distillery open all year? What’s the best time to visit?
Steven T. Bashore: The distillery and gristmill are open for tours April 1-October 31. The site is closed to tours November 1-March 31. During March and November, we produce our rye whiskey, running five copper pot stills heated by wood fires. The Mount Vernon Estate, Washington’s Mansion, is open 365 days a year.
OT: What foods pair well with your spirits? What about Indian food?
Steven T. Bashore: The mix of brandy and Indian spices is a combination seldom heard of but the aromatic herbs used in Indian cuisine go beautifully with our peach and apple brandies.The spicy notes in the rye whiskies are also well suited to Indian cuisine and palate.
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