Distillery. Is a business I am entirely unacquainted with; but from your knowledge of it and from the confidence you have in the profit to be derived from the establishment, I am disposed to enter upon one.... (George Washington, June 1797)
With those words, written to his plantation manager James Anderson, Washington entered into the whiskey distilling business.
Now our team of archaeologists from Historic Mount Vernon, the Virginia plantation Washington called home for 45 years, embarks on an unknown venture just as the first American president did over 200 years ago. Together with interns and volunteers, we'll work this summer to discover and interpret the archaeological remains of George Washington's eighteenth-century whiskey distillery.
Background & History
The only founding father to commercially operate a distillery, Washington began distilling in 1797. Research has been taking place at the site for the last few years.
After six years of digging, two years of intense planning, and six months to get a building permit, we have finally broken ground on the recreated Distillery.
Dig Diaries 2003
Participate in the exciting discoveries by reading reports from the field!
Ask an Archaeologist
Visit our bulletin board to get answers to all your questions about the dig.
Beyond the Trenches:
- The Archaeologists' Toolbox
Learn about the tools we use before, during, and after excavations!
- Flotation 101
Flotation provides archaeologists with insight into people's diet and agricultural practices, as well as information on past environmental conditions.
- Mapping the Site
An essential part of archaeology, maps record data for analysis and document what the excavation destroys. See our map of the site, plus the excavation plan view.
In May 2001, barrels of whiskey and rum were shipped down the Potomac to celebrate the groundbreaking of the distillery.
Meet the archaeologists working at the distillery site this season.
Events & Links
Learn more about us, and get information on visiting the site or taking part in one of our programs.