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 George Washington Rye Whiskey nets $25,000 at charity auction


Robert Haynes-Peterson

October 8, 2010

AS PART OF ITS “Spirit of Mount Vernon” gala fundraiser for President George Washington’s historic home, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS)–an advocacy group for the distilled spirits industry–auctioned off bottles #1 and #2 of a limited edition un-aged George Washington Rye Whiskey (the first made atWashington’s Distillery in over 200 years) in a live auction. The event benefitted the George Washington Orientation and Education Center. Though bidding was brief, the bottles sold (as a pair) for $25,000 to an anonymous bidder (from the U.K. in a bit of irony). The evening as a whole netted over $200,000 bringing DISCUS and its members’/partners’ total contribution to the Center to over $2,000,000 according to DISCUS CEO Peter Cressy.

The annual event, co-hosted by DISCUS, the International Dairy Foods Association and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, draws notables from the major U.S. distilleries and spirits companies (like Jack Daniel’s parent company Brown-Forman), along with others in related industries along with D.C. politicos. This year, four people were inducted into the organization’s George Washington Spirits Society for their contributions to the industry and the public: Olympic skater Apolo Anton Ohno (for his work on preventing under-age drinking), U.S. Representative (KY) John Yarmuth, Jeff Becker (posthumously) of the Techniques of Alcohol Management, and retiring Brown-Forman COO James Bareuther. Yuki Ohno, Apolo’s father, accepted on the medalist’s behalf, who was too sick to attend. In addition, actors Alfre Woodard, Teri Polo (Meet the Parents), Rachael Leigh Cook and Stephen Weber (Wings, Happy Town) attended and mingled.

The George Washington Rye, part of a limited release distilled last year at the George Washington Distillery, a historically accurate working reconstruction of Washington’s own 5-still building reconstructed on the original footprint. DISCUS provided a major grant for the archaeological excavation of the original grist mill and still, and reconstruction of the replica buildings. 471 bottles of the un-aged rye were sold to the public on July 1, 2010, and sold out in under two hours. One of auctioned bottles will be donated to the George Washington Distillery Museum for public display, with the other going to the anonymous bidder (said to have been on the phone from a palace in the U.K.). A second limited batch is barrel aging and expected to be auctioned next year, along with a batch of peach brandy distilled October 6 by a group of DISCUS-partnered craft distillers.